The truth about the royal family dress code
Whether you were born and raised in the United States or hail from across the pond, your fascination with the royal family surely remains alive and well. According to BBC News, less than a fifth of residents in the United Kingdom would choose to do away with the monarchy, as of 2012. Yes, they’re quite happy with the arrangement. And in the US? “I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the royal family,” former President Barack Obama once admitted to Prince Charles. Later, he added, “They like them much better than they like their own politicians.” Why? Well, according to what Tom Sykes, writer for The Daily Beast, told The New York Times, the royals are the “ultimate celebrities.” Not only are they the cream of the crop when it comes to famous people, they also follow many traditions that are, quite frankly, bizarre and therefore interesting to us common folk — especially when it comes to their clothing. Here are some of the most interesting dress code rules followed by the royal family.
Hats off to the Queen
Throughout the years, Queen Elizabeth has been photographed in some pretty epic hats. She seems to have an affinity for the head coverings but, as with most royal family traditions, there’s more to it than that. Diana Mather, senior tutor for The English Manner etiquette consultancy, explained to BBC News, “Up until the 1950s ladies were very seldom seen without a hat as it was not considered ‘the thing’ for ladies to show their hair in public.” Okay, but it’s not exactly the ’50s anymore. Believe it or not, Queen Elizabeth has changed with the times — to a degree. “[H]ats are now reserved for more formal occasions,” Mather explained.
Yet, if the Queen is caught wearing a hat — even during formal occasions —after 6 p.m., she turns into a pumpkin. Okay, that’s not at all true. Nevertheless, the hats-off policy stands. “The old rule is that hats are never worn indoors after 6 p.m., because that is when the ladies changed into evening dress, and tiaras and the family jewels would come out,” Grant Harrod, etiquette expert, told BBC News. That’s when you change into your evening dress too, right?
Tiaras come with stipulations
So, how do you go about scoring one of those evening tiaras? You’re going to need a wedding ring. According to BBC News, tiaras are reserved for women who are either married or part of the royal family. While Queen Elizabeth may be comfortable wearing wildly colorful hats, her tiaras have never seen daylight. “Flashy diamonds and tiaras are not worn during the day,” said Mather. Harrold further explained, “For married ladies it was a sign of status and would show you were taken and not looking for a husband. For the gentleman it was a clear sign not to make advances toward the lady in question.” Even Kate Middleton had to wait until she married Prince William and became Duchess Catherine before she was privy to don a tiara. Coincidentally, she’s only worn a tiara six times in the six years she’s been married to Prince William.
Since we are in the US, feel free to let your freak flag fly and wear your tiara whenever and however you see fit. That is, if you own tiara, of course.
Causing a wedge
According to Vanity Fair, Duchess Catherine has never worn wedges in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, at least according to the photographic evidence. What’s Grandma have against the comfortable footwear? “The Queen isn’t a fan of wedged shoes. She really doesn’t like them and it’s well- known among the women in the family,” a source explained. Well, we all have things we just don’t like, right?
Still, the duchess seems to enjoy a variety of wedges and pairs them with more casual outfits, like when on vacation with Prince William (AKA when Queen Elizabeth is not around). You do you, Kate, you do you.
All about the trousers
One of the funniest differences in American and British nomenclature: what we call “pants” in US are called “trousers” in the UK, whereas “pants” in the UK means “underwear” in the US — it’s all very confusing, hilarious, and maybe slightly embarrassing. Nevertheless, trousers are pretty much standard for casual wear. According to BBC News, the royal women are likely to wear a “smart day dress” or pants — er, trousers — along with a cardigan or blazer. The royal men, on the other hand, wear polos, blazers, and khakis or chinos. With the Queen being opposed to semi-casual footwear, one can only imagine her take on jeans. Yet and still, donning trousers is more about others’ dress code than the royal family’s.
So, do members of the royal family always play it safe? Mather explained, “[I]f the duchess is outside walking the dogs for example, then jeans are fine.” Though, there are occasions beyond dog-walking that are fit for denim.
No, denim is not forbidden
While you’re not very likely to see any member of the royal family rocking denim-on-denim, you will see them sporting jeans from time to time — and not solely when they’re walking their dog(s). Duchess Catherine has been photographed in dark jeans — quite affordable ones at that — and slightly more expensive bright-colored jeans with sneakers, as shocking as that sounds. Even Prince Williams occasionally wears jeans and was even pictured doing some yoga in white jeans. Oh, boy.
Prince Harry, too, wears denim at times. Although his now-fiancee Meghan Markle was heavily criticized for wearing ripped jeans to the Invictus Games in Toronto, denim obviously isn’t forbidden by the royal family. Prince William and Duchess Catherine proved the occasional acceptableness of jeans while attending a rodeo show in Calgary.