Weird Rules Royals Have To Follow For Their Bachelor Parties

It's no secret that the British Royal family loves tradition. And their weddings are no exception. Historically, British royal weddings were governed by laws under The Royal Marriages Act of 1772, which dictated everything from heirs to suitable matches. Although this law was eventually repealed, the royal family has replaced these old rules with a new legal code known as the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. Under these newer rules, the first six people in the line to the throne must ask for the consent of the sovereign king or queen before getting married. So far, this law has done nothing to impend any royal love stories. As reported by ABC, even controversial couple Prince Harry and Meghan Markle managed to successfully obtain the official approval of Queen Elizabeth before they walked down the aisle in 2018.

However, while royal wedding rules are codified into law, less is known about royal bachelor parties. One explanation for this could be related to the sense of secrecy surrounding these events. For example, the full details of Prince Harry's bachelor party have never been leaked to the press. And when asked about what went down on his special day, the prince told ABC: "Nice try, getting me to talk about the stag weekend. That was never going to happen." Over the years, however, the royal family has let bachelor party details that reveal the rules governing these mysterious events.

Stag parties are a British royal tradition

Bachelor parties don't exactly conjure images of Buckingham Palace royalty. On the contrary, the groom's "last night of freedom" might even seem anti-royal thanks to a reputation for wild nights of partying. Nonetheless, the British royal family has a long tradition of bachelor parties, known in the United Kingdom as "stag do's" (per Good Morning America). In 1947, leading up to his wedding to the late Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip was so keen on kissing his singledom goodbye that he indulged in not one — but two — stag nights. As reported by Hello!, the late queen consort threw an official bachelor party the evening before his wedding at The Dorchester Hotel, where he and his friends drank plentifully. According to the outlet, the Prince had also held a secret party just days earlier.

 On November 14, 1947, Prince Philip gathered with twenty-four close friends at the Belfry Club in London. Per some event menus obtained by the Daily Mail, the prince consort and his crew enjoyed an elaborate dinner of turtle soup, foie gras, and an assortment of mixed meats. The gentlemen topped off their meal with crepes suzette for dessert. 

All in all, the gentlemen seemed to maintain a sense of dignity throughout the evening. The bachelor party photos published in the Daily Mail report show Prince Philip's buddies dressed elegantly in black tie. Only a glint of mischievousness is apparent in the guests' sly smiles.  

Royal bachelor party plans are top secret

It's not uncommon for bachelor party participants to adopt a "what happens in Vegas" attitude towards their events. However, the British royal family takes bachelor party secrecy to a new level. It seems like an unwritten rule that the logistics of a royal groom's "last night of freedom" must remain top secret. In the documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding," King Charles II wanted to keep his stag night under wraps. As royal family specialist Ingrid Seward told filmmakers, "White's Club in St. James's actually gave Prince Charles his stag night dinner. Obviously, everyone was sworn to secrecy." 

Prince William was no more open about the logistics of his 2011 bachelor party than his father was about his 1981 celebration. The Sun reports that the prince employed "military precision" to keep the details of his stag do on the DL. As per the outlet, Prince William and his guests avoided prying eyes throughout the whole celebration, even steering clear of the village near the party venue, Hartland Abbey. Thus, the boys avoided drawing the attention of nearby residents.

In 2018, Prince Harry adopted the same "hush-hush" attitude towards his stag do, despite his previous party animal reputation. While walking through a crowd in Belfast, Prince Harry faced a spontaneous question about the logistics of his bachelor party. The prince quickly shut down the line of questioning by stating: "No comment" (per Town & Country).

The media is banned from royal stag parties

One reason for the secrecy surrounding royal bachelor parties is to allow the groom and his friends to have a good time without the added pressure of media attention. As a result, the press is banned from the event, although historically, not everyone has respected this critical rule. In 1981, then-Prince Charles was famously betrayed by someone he had trusted with his top-secret stag do logistics. As Ingrid Seward revealed in the documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding," an unknown individual shared the party details with the media. "Somebody leaked it, and then there were loads of press outside [the party]. Obviously, [then-]Prince Charles was furious," Seward explained. 

While King Charles II reportedly left the event with his head held high, not every royal has dealt with bachelor party media so gracefully. At his not-so-secret 1947 bachelor party, Prince Philip invited the media to The Dorchester Hotel to snap a few initial photos, as reported by Channel 5 (via Express). However, according to royal expert Victoria Howard, the media was essentially expelled from the event following the beginning photo session. As Howard revealed in her Channel 5 interview, "Ever conscious of public perception and being a private individual as well, Philip and his friends then took the cameras off the photographers and ... smashed the light bulb[s] so [the media] couldn't take any further photos of any shenanigans that went on that night."

Royal bachelor party plans have to be flexible

The British royal family will do almost anything to keep members' bachelor party details out of the media. As a result, royal grooms have to be extremely flexible regarding planning. Leading up to his 2011 wedding to now-Princess Catherine, Prince William was hoping to enjoy a boating bachelor bash, as The Sun (via CTV News) reported. According to the outlet, the prince's original idea was to spend the day enjoying water sports before heading out for an evening barbecue. One source even told The Sun: "The water sports weekend is a perfect option [for the royals]. They can let their hair down without worrying about who is around." 

Unfortunately, however, things didn't exactly go to plan. According to a report by ABC, someone derailed the prince's plans by leaking the bachelor party details to the press. Consequently, Prince William and his friends had to scrap their original idea and dream up a whole new bachelor party. Ultimately, The Sun reports that the boys headed to a private residence at Hartland Abbey for a weekend of clay pigeon shooting. 

Thanks to the partygoers' discretion, the media only discovered that the event occurred when Prince William's private office released a statement to People (via National Post). A spokesperson stated: "I can confirm that Prince William's stag party has taken place." However, the office declined to comment beyond declaring the party "an entirely private event."

Excessive partying is not encouraged

While royal bachelor parties are meant to be a good time, they shouldn't involve excessive partying. This was especially true for Prince Harry, who was once known for his "royal wild child" persona. In 2012, the redheaded prince made several headlines after being photographed naked playing "strip billiards" in a Las Vegas hotel room, according to People. Consequently, when it came time to plan his pre-wedding celebration, Prince Harry worked extra hard to avoid scandal. As a friend reportedly told Vanity Fair, "[Prince Harry is] determined that there will be no repeats of Vegas on this stag do." A report by Daily Star alleges that several Las Vegas hotels vied for the chance to receive Prince Harry and his friends. The prince, however, reportedly turned down the opportunity. "He knows that would be a mess and not allow him any privacy or real time with his friends," an anonymous source told the Daily Star.

Prince Harry's decision to pursue a more laid-back bachelor party stemmed mainly from his relationship with Meghan Markle. Vanity Fair spoke to one of the prince's unnamed friends about how Meghan encouraged her then-fiancé to pursue a healthier lifestyle: "Harry is a lot tamer and less of a party boy these days. Meghan has really calmed him down. He smokes less, although Meghan hasn't yet managed to get him to quit smoking, and he doesn't drink as much." 

Royal bachelor parties are custom to each groom

The British royal family follows a host of protocols, which dictate everything from holding a fork to using the bathroom. Nonetheless, royal grooms aren't expected to follow strict schedules or formal ceremonies at their bachelor parties. On the contrary, each groom is allowed to choose what kinds of activities they wish to incorporate into their own unique celebration. According to the Channel 5 documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding," then-Prince Charles opted to throw his bachelor party at an elite London gentlemen's club called St. James's. The groom chose the menu himself, opting to forgo heavier options for a selection of appetizers that included cold meats, canapés, and cheese soufflé. Meanwhile, the drinks menu was reportedly much more elaborate and involved several vintage wines, such as a 1977 burgundy and 1960 Taylor's port.

Despite King Charles II's decision to indulge in a bachelor party meal, his eldest son chose something much more elaborate. Prince William's stag do was a weekend-long affair involving plenty of physical activity, according to The Sun. Although Prince William reportedly followed his dad's example by serving port wine to his guests, he organized a much sportier stag do. As reported by The Sun, the Prince of Wales invited his friends to join him for an active weekend of shooting and surfing. 

Royal stag parties must be sensitive to national issues

Bachelor parties are supposed to be fun. However, members of the royal family can't put enjoyment before the rest of their responsibilities. In times of British prosperity, royals are allowed to be a bit more open about their lavish lifestyles. However, during periods of economic downturn, the royal family must try to show solidarity with their people.

When Prince William and now-Princess Catherine married in 2011, many British families were still suffering in the aftermath of the 2008 recession. The royal wedding took place just weeks before former British shadow chancellor Ed Balls famously gave a speech in which he declared: "The economy has flatlined in the last nine months" (via YouTube). According to The Sun (via CTV News), the Prince of Wales and his bride-to-be considered this dire economic situation when planning their respective bachelor and bachelorette parties. The outlet reported that Prince William and his fiancée decided to forgo international travel in recognition of the impact of Britain's struggling economy. The prince also tried to keep down the overall cost of his bachelor party. The Daily Express reportedly estimated (via Daily Mail) that Prince William's twenty-person bachelor party didn't exceed a budget of 2,500 pounds.

According to journalist Tina Brown's book "The Palace Papers" (via Town & Country), Princess Catherine also threw an inexpensive bachelorette party. She reportedly opted for a "small bachelorette karaoke party hosted by her sister and some old school friends."

The event is allowed to be lighthearted

The British royal family may seem austere at times. However, when it comes to bachelor parties, royal family members can let their hair loose. At his sporty Hartland Abbey stag retreat, Prince William allowed his goofy side to make a rare appearance, according to The Sun. The outlet reports that the prince's buddies submitted him to some playful hazing, obligating him to don a hairpiece and a Queen Elizabeth sticker. As journalist Duncan Larcombe of The Sun also told ABC in an interview, "At one stage one of William's mates pulled out a chest wig and a hair piece and insisted that he put them on. High jinx, royal style." While this may not seem particularly dignified — or royal — Prince William refused to ruin the fun. An anonymous source told The Sun, "He took it all in good spirit." 

Nonetheless, Prince William's team wanted the public to know that, although the prince enjoyed embracing his silly side, he had no interest in engaging in more controversial activities. "Clarence House are very quick to insist that absolutely nobody externally came in to the stag party. I think that's their way of saying there were no strippers or burlesque dancers," Duncan Larcombe told ABC. The Clarence House statements came following rumors that Prince Harry was planning to ignore his brother's request for a "more mature" party by inviting burlesque dancers to the private event (via Daily Mail).  

Royal bachelor parties shouldn't anger future spouses

It goes without saying that most bachelor parties walk a delicate line between being wild and ... too wild. And royal bachelor parties are no different. Some reports allege that King Charles II might have ruined things with the late Princess Diana early on, thanks to something that happened on his stag night. In an interview for the documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding," features writer John Edwards opened up about a brief interaction he had with Princess Diana just days before her wedding. 

According to Edwards, the bride-to-be didn't even try to hide the sense of discord that was already growing between her and then-Prince Charles. "[Diana] stopped right in front of me. We were only a few feet apart ... And then she put her hand over her mouth ... and she said, 'There was a terrible row last night between Charles and me. It had been his stag party," Edwards revealed. While Princess Diana never revealed the details of the argument to the press, she did not hesitate to emphasize the severity of the disagreement. As Edwards told the documentarians, "What the row was about she didn't go in[to it], but ... in that girlish way of hers, she repeated, 'Oh! A real row!'" A 1981 print edition of The Mirror (via Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding) also quoted Diana stating: "Charles was very cross with me."

Be ready to attend a wedding the following morning

Bachelor parties can seem important, yet they should never overshadow one's wedding. This is especially true for Britain's most famous family since most royal weddings occur in the morning. As reported by ABC, most UK weddings take place before noon and are immediately followed by a "wedding breakfast" rather than evening cocktails. Consequently, royal grooms mustn't party too hard the night leading up to their weddings.

One of the closest calls occurred in 1947 when Prince Philip celebrated his official bachelor party at the Dorchester Hotel the night before his wedding to Queen Elizabeth (per The Mirror). According to Westminster Abbey, the pair tied the knot at 11:30 am, just hours after Prince Philip's wild night out.

Unlike his father, then-Prince Charles preferred to remain more somber the night before he married Lady Diana. The documentary "Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding" reports that Prince Charles spent much of the evening before his wedding "staring moodily out of his window." Rather than enjoy a night of shenanigans, the future king stayed home and even sent a note to his bride-to-be. Per the Channel 5 documentary, Prince Charles's note to Lady Diana read: "I'm so proud of you. I'll be there at the altar for you tomorrow. Just look 'em in the eye and knock 'em dead."