Weird Rules Royals Have To Follow For Their Bachelorette Parties

Royal bachelor parties have earned a reputation for being wild. Back in 1947, Prince Philip was so keen on celebrating his "last night of freedom" that he opted for two stag parties rather than just one (per the Mirror). And when King Charles III married Princess Diana in 1981, the then-Prince of Wales made headlines for his bachelor party antics. As journalist John Edwards revealed in the Channel 5 documentary Charles & Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding, King Charles III's stag party was so intense that it angered his bride-to-be. According to Edwards's account, Princess Diana had no qualms about revealing some of this tension to the press. "[Diana] stopped right in front of me ... and she said, 'There was a terrible row last night between Charles and me. It had been his stag party," the journalist told Channel 5.

While it's no secret that royal bachelors party in style, royal bachelorettes haven't made as much of a media splash for their pre-nuptial shenanigans. The reason partially pertains to the high levels of pressure endured by royal women such as Princess Catherine of Wales and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. While Princess Catherine has struggled with fear of "the slightest slip-up" (per People), her sister-in-law has faced what Vogue calls a "racist" and "endless Meghan Markle scrutiny." Due to a combination of this intense media pressure and Buckingham Palace protocol, royal brides have to follow a slew of rules during their "hen do's," or bachelorette parties.

Royal bachelorette parties are not traditional

While British royal grooms have long enjoyed their "last night of freedom," British royal brides have not had the same experience. In fact, British bachelorette — or "hen" — parties have only become popular in the last 40 years, according to a report by the BBC. As a result, in 1947, while Prince Philip was celebrating his bachelor party at The Dorchester hotel in London (per Hello! Magazine), Queen Elizabeth was not exactly throwing back shots with the girls. However, that doesn't mean Her Majesty was banned from enjoying herself.

Instead of a bachelorette night, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her last evening as a single lady via a lavish party thrown by her parents. As journalist Cobina Wright wrote in a 1947 article for Journal-American (via The New Yorker), "One of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen in my life was the truly magnificent reception given by Their Majesties the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace ... I did not realize there was so much splendor left in this battered old world." According to Wright's account, then-Princess Elizabeth didn't seem too nervous about her upcoming nuptials. "[Princess Elizabeth] is divinely pretty. [At the event], she looked fresh and dewy as ever last night despite the great burden of royal wedding preparations," she wrote. The female guests reportedly donned an extensive collection of jewelry. Wright noted that she felt "overwhelmed by the size and beauty of the jewels worn by the women present."

The events weren't allowed until the 1980s

Queen Elizabeth wasn't the only British royal bride to miss out on a hen party. Princess Diana also forwent the modern tradition rather unceremoniously. In a piece for the BBC, journalist Katie Fraser wrote that in 1981 "there was little expectation" that then-Lady Diana Spencer would throw a hen do. However, according to some reports, Princess Diana's wedding night was nothing like Queen Elizabeth's had been in 1947. In lieu of a grand party, the late princess spent her "last night of freedom" nursing a broken heart. According to Princess Diana's astrologer, Penny Thornton, the night before Princess Diana's nuptials was a veritable disaster. "One of the most shocking things that Diana told me was that the night before the wedding, Charles told her that he didn't love her," Thornton revealed on the ITV documentary "The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess" (via Marie Claire). 

Luckily, however, Princess Diana was the last royal bride to endure such morose pre-nuptials. By the mid-1980s, bachelorette parties were "in." As the BBC reported, in 1986, Sarah Ferguson was permitted to celebrate the first-ever royal bachelorette bash following her engagement to Prince Andrew. The event reportedly involved plenty of booze. As royal expert Tom Quinn revealed in the Channel 5 documentary "When Fergie Met The Monarchy," as published in Express, "Apparently ... bottles of champagne were being fired in every direction ... [the bachelorette party] was a bit of a riot."

Royal hen dos should not involve excessive partying

Although royal bachelorette parties were finally permitted in 1986, that didn't mean royal brides were not subject to certain expectations of decency. By all indications, Windsor did not want any bride close to the throne to engage in excessive partying. Unfortunately, at the first royal bachelorette party in the crown's history, Sarah Ferguson and her friends learned this lesson the hard way. In an excerpt of the Channel 5 documentary "When Fergie Met The Monarchy," as published in Express, royal expert Tom Quinn shared some insight into what exactly went down at Ferguson's controversial hen do. Quinn told Channel 5: "[The women] at the hen night, including Diana, dressed up as policewomen and were supposed to set off for Annabel's night club, where Andrew was having his stag night."

Ultimately, the bachelorettes' plan failed miserably. According to a report by Brides, Sarah Ferguson and her friends were actually arrested for trotting around in their police uniforms. And while the partygoers were quickly released from custody, the event created a scandal that didn't sit well with the rest of the British royal family. As Quinn told Channel 5, per a separate piece by Express, "There was a hint there might be a rather vulgar side to Sarah. Vulgarity is something the royal family ... really [doesn't] like." In the same documentary, Ferguson's friend Lizzie Cundy concurred: "[The bachelorettes] did get in quite a bit of trouble about it."

The parties are allowed to be lighthearted

While royal bachelorette parties are not supposed to be excessive, they are allowed to be fun. Prior to her 2011 nuptials, now-Princess Catherine organized a hen do that was arguably much more tasteful than Sarah Ferguson's wild bash. In his book "The Palace Papers" (via Yahoo! Finance), Tim Brown explained that Princess Catherine's bachelorette party was an intimate event, "hosted by [the princess'] sister and some old school friends." Although Brown was quick to point out the party's "small" size, he also described it as a lively event. The bride-to-be reportedly showed her silly side, especially during the karaoke portion of the party. Brown wrote: "Kate grabbed the mic and with unusual spontaneity sang her heart out to 'Fight for This Love' by Cheryl Cole." However, in spite of these antics, the event was relatively well-controlled. As one of Princess Catherine's friends told the Daily Telegraph (via Time), "She has already had her hen night, but it was certainly very low-key." 

In 2018, Meghan Markle followed in Princess Catherine's footsteps and steered clear of any Ferguson-esque party antics. Instead, the future Duchess of Sussex opted for an extremely laid-back bachelorette party. According to a report by E! (via Elle), Markle and her pals enjoyed a relaxing spa getaway at Soho Farmhouse. As her friend, Markus Anderson, told the outlet, "It's just a relaxing day of good food and pampering."

Royal bachelorette parties should avoid the media

Members of the royal family seldom have the chance to do anything without media involvement, but royal brides face a particularly brutal level of scrutiny. Because of this, both Princess Catherine and Meghan Markle had to be extremely careful about keeping the press away from their bachelorette parties. When Princess Catherine was preparing for her hen do in 2011, she put a lot of effort into preventing the paparazzi from discovering her plans. Her maid of honor Pippa Middleton, who planned the event, went so far as to make bachelorette party reservations at four different locations to keep the press at bay, as reported by People. Similarly, Meghan Markle tried to keep the location of her spa day under wraps, according to the Daily Mail

One of the reasons that royal brides try to avoid the media pertains to the fear of making a mistake in public. For British royals, a faux pas can be so scandalous as to tarnish the reputation of the whole family. In an interview with People, upper-echelon wedding expert Sarah Haywood explained why Princess Catherine had to be so careful about keeping the press away from her bachelorette party. "Kate's very well aware the spotlight is on her," she said. "The slightest slip-up wouldn't go down well."

Official duties come before fun

As one of the royal family's more "modern" brides, now-Princess Catherine wasn't afraid to organize a party to kiss her single days goodbye. However, Britain's sweetheart was not allowed to simply plan her bachelorette bash according to her heart's desires. Per Reuters, Princess Catherine's marriage to Prince William fell in the midst of an economic crisis in the U.K. Because of this, CTV News reports, the couple decided to forgo expensive bachelorette/bachelor parties abroad. Apparently, neither Princess Catherine nor Prince William wanted to spend a lot of money on a fancy party, while so many British people were struggling financially. CTV News even reported that Prince William wanted to keep his bachelor party budget under 2,500 pounds.

While Princess Catherine never released the official budget for her own party, it is unlikely that she spent more money than her groom-to-be. According to singer Cheryl Cole's book "My Story" (via the Daily Star) the princess' hen night didn't rely on expensive entertainment to keep the party going. On the contrary, Cole revealed, Princess Catherine was the entertainment. "Kate confessed that she dressed up as me on her hen night, in a bodysuit and split trousers, and sang 'Fight For This Love,'" the singer wrote. And, apparently, the royal bride was not afraid to bust a move. "She even learn[ed] the dance routine and was step-perfect by all accounts," Cole added. 

Controversial figures can't go to pre-wedding events

It's no secret that guest lists are an essential part of planning royal events, and prenuptial parties are no exception. As reported by the Journal-American (via The New Yorker), Queen Elizabeth invited everybody who was somebody to her pre-wedding reception at Buckingham Palace. The party reportedly included a slew of big names, ranging from Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia to Lady Astor to Miss Sharman Douglas, the American ambassador's daughter. Similarly, Sarah Ferguson was sure to include Princess Diana in her bachelorette party, according to "When Fergie Met The Monarchy" (via Express). 

However, just as it is important for royal brides to invite the right people to their pre-wedding celebrations, it is essential for them to not invite the wrong people. By the time Princess Catherine married Prince William in 2011, Sarah Ferguson had become a little bit of a "persona non grata" in the eyes of Buckingham Palace, according to an excerpt of "When Fergie Met the Monarchy." Therefore, she was not only excluded from Princess Catherine's bachelorette party, but also from the wedding itself. In an interview with Town & Country, Ferguson opened up about her exclusion from wedding-related events. "I didn't think I was probably worthy to go to their wedding," she told the outlet.

In a more extreme case, Prince Andrew did not attend the engagement party of his daughter Princess Beatrice. According to ET, the reason pertained to Prince Andrew's relationship with convicted human trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.  

Royal women aren't obligated to attend each other's bachelorettes

It may seem obvious that Princess Catherine and Meghan Markle are two very different women. Nonetheless, following Meghan Markle's 2018 marriage to Prince Harry, the unlikely duo faced a lot of pressure from the public to form a close relationship. As an inside source told People, "There was undue pressure where the whole world wanted them to be best friends." Luckily for Princess Catherine and Meghan Markle, however, Buckingham Palace did not force the pair to fake a sense of closeness via the duchess's bachelorette party. 

According to a report by Vogue, Princess Catherine was not present at Meghan Markle's spa-themed hen weekend. The outlet reports that the now-Princess of Wales was unable to attend, as she was seven months pregnant at the time of the event. Regardless of the reason, Meghan Markle was ultimately able to spend the weekend among a few of her close friends, rather than the groom's family. Vogue reports that Markle's spa day guests included fashion designer Misha Nonoo and PR executive Violet von Westenholz.

Likewise, when Princess Catherine celebrated her own bachelorette party seven years prior, the guest list mostly included school friends, as reported by The Sun. According to the outlet, two of the princess' gal pals from high school, Rose Astor and Alicia Fox-Pitt, attended the bash, as well as her former college roommate, Olivia Bleasdale. It was never confirmed whether Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie attended the event.

Royals can throw someone else's bachelorette party

The women of the British royal family face fairly severe restrictions when it comes to their own bachelorette parties. Nonetheless, these royal ladies are actually allowed to attend non-royal bachelorette parties. In some cases, they are even allowed to plan these girls-only events. Weeks before Pippa Middleton walked down the aisle in 2017, Princess Catherine splurged on a lavish international hen weekend to celebrate her little sister's last moments of singledom. As reported by The Sun, Princess Catherine whisked Pippa and her friends away to Maribel, France for a weekend of downhill skiing. An inside source told the outlet, "They stayed in a really exclusive catered chalet with maids and chef, who ensured that they were totally spoilt ... The owners also wanted to impress their royal guests so the girls were showered with gifts. They were given Swatch watches, Ugg slippers, leather-bound notebooks, and bespoke fragrances."

Princess Catherine is not the only royal to have organized a friend's hen night. According to a report by the Daily Star (via the Evening Standard), Princess Beatrice expressed an interest in planning actress Mila Kunis' bachelorette party. As a source reportedly told the Daily Star, "Like all Mila's inner circle, [Princess Beatrice's] known marriage has been on the cards for some time. But now things are official, she wants to crack on with the celebrations. Bea told Mila she wants to take her for a pre-wedding shower in Cannes [France]." 

The brides-to-be should be ready to kiss their freedom goodbye

It's one thing to be born into the British royal family, and it's another thing to marry into it. As psychologist Anjula Mutanda revealed in an interview for the Channel 5 documentary "When Fergie Met the Monarchy," the people who marry into Britain's most famous family often have a difficult time adjusting to their new circumstances. "Outsiders have struggled to do well when they enter the royal family," Mutanda told Channel 5. In that sense, for women like Sarah Ferguson, Princess Catherine, and Meghan Markle, a bachelorette party doesn't just commemorate the end of one's single life — it also celebrates one's last moments of relative freedom. 

Following their bachelorette parties and subsequent weddings, British royal brides can expect their entire lives to change. In an interview with Times Radio, royal expert Katie Nicholl explained that these women often struggle with a sense of loneliness following their nuptials. "You look to Diana, look back to Sarah Ferguson ... That great sense of isolation that they felt, I suppose, as outsiders marrying into this institution that is the royal family. And ... when you sort of bring that story right up to [the] current date, you look at Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex and, of course, the very well-documented problems that she had adjusting ... to royal life," Nicholl added.