All The Royal Rules And Protocols King Charles Actually Broke

When we think of royal rule breakers, a few key people come to mind. Of course, Diana Spencer tops the list. A once timid, fragile teenager transformed into a powerhouse seemingly overnight — and when she and then-Prince Charles finally separated in 1992, she did not hold back her truth. The book with Andrew Morton, the infamous BBC interview with Martin Bashir, the revenge dress — people either loved or hated her for breaking the royal mold, and her legacy is still very much alive and well today in books, television shows such as "The Crown," and biopics including "Spencer."

Doesn't all of that sound a little familiar? Yet another royal rule breaker we're seeing reject the system in real-time is Diana's youngest son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan Markle. Like Diana, people seem to either love the Duke and Duchess of Sussex or hate them — but no matter what you think of the duo, they are breaking the mold as Diana did all those years ago.

So where does that leave the rest of the royals? Are they all royal rule followers who stick to the protocol to a tee? Or do they break some barriers down (of course, in less cataclysmic ways)? As it turns out, King Charles III has broken royal rules himself on more than one occasion. 

Charles' role in the delivery room broke royal protocol

Royal protocol extends to just about every facet of life, including the delivery room, if you can believe it. It was protocol for members of the royal family to give birth to their children at home, and the husbands were never present for labor (Prince Albert in the 1800s was the only exception). But that rather outdated rule stopped with then-Prince Charles, who was present for the births of both his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry.

William, the now direct heir to the throne, was born on June 21, 1982, and was the closest to the crown to be born in a hospital in royal history. The couple welcomed him at St. Mary's — the Lindo Wing, to be exact — so they could enjoy sizable hospital suites and provided meals. And, in a first, the then-Prince of Wales witnessed the birth from start to finish, calling it the "very adult thing to do," per E! News

When asked outside the hospital shortly after William's birth if the baby was "like" him, Charles quipped, "Fortunately no." Even the queen reportedly said, "Thank goodness he hasn't got ears like his father" when visiting Diana and William in the hospital. William would replicate the delivery, welcoming his three children with Catherine, Princess of Wales, in St. Mary's Lindo Wing.

He was the first heir to the throne to get a divorce

Though he now sits on the throne, King Charles III waited decades to become Britain's monarch. Additionally tied to Charles — in an equally profound way — is his brutal separation and divorce from Diana Spencer. Any fan of Netflix's "The Crown" can tell you that the queen was not behind the idea of divorce until the bitter end, and Charles broke royal protocol by becoming the first heir to the throne to call it quits on his marriage.

Charles and Diana's wedding was celebrated as the nuptials of the century, and almost a billion people tuned in worldwide to watch them tie the knot. But what started as a seeming fairytale became a nightmare very quickly, and by 1992, the two announced their intention to separate. Now it should be noted that divorce was not initially viewed as an option, and many assumed that the then-Prince and Princess of Wales would set aside their differences with time. But after Diana's infamous BBC interview — where she admitted that there were "three" in her marriage — the queen urged the couple to divorce. By 1996, Charles and Diana came to a settlement, and the princess gave up her HRH title as a result (as well as a sizable portion of her security). Diana tragically died after sustaining injuries in a car crash the following year.

Charles broke the 'no selfie' rule while on a Canada trip

Here's a royal protocol that's a little less intense — as it turns out, members of the royal family are discouraged from taking selfies with fans. This unspoken rule exists for several reasons. Firstly, the trendy photo option is "less personal" than a "face-to-face interaction," experts told PureWow, and as such, royals prefer forward-facing photos. Additionally, a selfie requires the people to be close to one another, leading to safety concerns for royal members. Alas, Charles threw the rule book out the window and took a selfie with a fan anyway.

While on a trip to Canada to mark Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, Charles and Camilla visited Yellowknife, a First Nation territory, and the surrounding areas. During the visit, two female fans captured Charles in a selfie, visibly throwing the royal a little for a loop as they attempted to do so. When he grasped what was going on, Charles smiled for the snap.

Clearly, the queen was alright in overlooking the selfie rule in this case, as the royal family's official Instagram account reposted the picture. And, just a week prior, Princess Catherine and Prince William took a selfie with a woman in Glasgow — so clearly, there are gray areas when it comes to royal protocol.

He was caught drinking at a young age

Drinking laws have ebbed and flowed over the years, but a 14-year-old Prince Charles was caught breaking not only royal protocol but also the law when he ordered a drink at a pub at Stornoway's Crown Hotel. Charles was attending Gordonstoun School when he ordered a cherry brandy while hanging out with some classmates. It was not only his first drink ever, but he paid for it despite his royal status! It cost him just over two shillings, and he was served despite being four years below the legal drinking age.

When Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022 and Charles took over the throne, the pub in question — which is still in operation — released a statement both mourning the nation's loss and recalling a rule-breaking teenage Charles.

"We send our sincere condolences to all of the royal [family] and we would like to send our congratulations and best wishes to our new King, HM King Charles III, Tom Strathmore, the owner at the Crown Hotel, told the Scottish Daily Express. "Of course should he ever head this way again we'd be delighted to serve him his tipple of choice, a cherry brandy as we did all those years ago when he was just 14."

Charles and Diana's PDA broke protocol on several occasions

When you think of King Charles III and his rather short-lived marriage to Diana Spencer, PDA is not the first thing that comes to mind. Affairs, tabloid wars, and scandal after scandal dominated common thought even to this day, but as it turns out, Diana and Charles broke royal protocol several times with their public displays of affection. The then-Prince and Princess of Wales embraced each other quite often in public — and as any royal watcher knows, showing affection in front of eagle-eyed fans isn't something that is done often. But, starting in 1981, on the afternoon of their wedding, Diana and Charles showed quite a bit of PDA, shocking royal fans.

Of course, the couple's balcony kiss is iconic, and such a sweet display of affection was carried on during Charles and Diana's honeymoon. The then-prince was pictured tenderly kissing Diana on the hand while honeymooning in Balmoral, and if you didn't know any better, you'd think that the two were hopelessly in love. Throughout the years, Diana and Charles kissed each other on several public occasions, most often at polo matches throughout the 1980s. While not necessarily as intimate as holding hands or kissing, perhaps some of Charles and Diana's most intimate moments came on the dance floor, and they were pictured dancing together in Australia on two separate occasions.

Despite being heir to the throne, he got remarried in a royal first

As King Charles III became the first heir to the throne to get divorced, he became the first heir to the throne to get remarried while waiting to assume the crown. After the tragic death of Diana Spencer in 1997, Charles publicly grieved alongside the British citizens and his two young sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. But, by 2005, Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles made their intentions known that they wanted to tie the knot finally. They did just that; the couple — who had been connected since the 1970s — announced that April 9, 2005, would be the date they would finally wed.

"Mrs. Parker Bowles and I are absolutely delighted. It will be a very special day for us and our families," Charles announced (via People). His statement was accompanied by words from his sons, William and Harry, who wrote of their father's longtime mistress-turned-fiancée, "We are both very happy for our father and Camilla, and we wish them all the luck in the future." And, in a rather romantic scene, Charles got down on one knee to propose to Camilla, to which she responded: "Of course. I'm just coming down to Earth."

Charles and Camilla, of course, tied the knot that April and Camilla assumed the title of the Duchess of Cornwall. When Charles became king, Camilla adopted the title of queen consort.

A fan planted a kiss on the young prince during a walkabout, breaking protocol

The walkabout is a signature part of the royal tradition as fans wait on the sidewalks for hours to get a glimpse of the family members. Think of the viral video of Meghan Markle meeting a royal watcher during the walkabout she, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Princess Catherine took part in after Queen Elizabeth II's death. The fan in question had been waiting for the royals for more than two hours (and she got a hug from Meghan, no less). As it turns out, a hug should've been the least of the royals' worries. Charles had several interactions with fans during walkabouts and on holiday that surpassed royal protocol.

As Harper's Bazaar points out, there isn't a code about interacting with a royal family member that is set in stone. While some people perform a "polite neck bow" or a "small curtsy," others opt for a handshake — a professional yet polite way to greet someone that maintains royal formalities. However, Charles received a kiss during a walkabout when one Gilda Larbey planted a smooch on the royal. Model Jane Priest similarly greeted the royal with a kiss while on vacation, Charles interacted with a fan in South Africa who wore his face on her shirt, and a little girl in Romania by the name of Antonia Paduraru also hugged the then-prince while he was on a royal tour.

The royal gave his signature to a fan, a strict no-no

It's common for people to ask their favorite actors or public figures for their autographs, and royals are no exception. With their prominent place in British life, you'd think they'd be giving out autographs like confetti, but giving a signature to a fan is a strict no-no. It's a matter of security, as giving a signature could run the risk of copies and potentially fraudulent behavior on the part of the public. Still, then-Prince Charles didn't seem to care much about protocol when visiting families whose homes had been damaged by a 2010 flood.

A mom in the crowd who waited to interact with the royal responded to his question, "Is there anything I can do to help?" with the following: "Can I be really cheeky, please sir, and can I have your autograph for my young son Tom? I'm not sure if you do autographs, but it would make his day?" (via the Daily Mail). The now-king was said to have looked "stunned" by the question but turned to his security and asked them to find a scrap of paper and a pen. He proceeded to write "Charles 2010" and even said sorry for his "shaky writing."

Charles hugged a royal fan back, breaking royal protocol

Though fans and royal watchers have kissed, hugged, and grabbed at King Charles III as aforementioned, the royal has often stood awkwardly or has tried to evade contact. But, in one particular interaction, Charles hugged a royal fan back! The then-Prince of Wales traveled to Romania on an official visit in 2017 and had several high-profile introductions, including the British culture secretary and a Romanian royal family member, the Crown Princess Margareta. But it was his interaction with a young schoolboy that had royal watchers welling up, as Charles showed quite a lot of affection — especially for a royal.

While during a walking tour of Bucharest, an 11-year-old named Valentin Blacker — the son of a local figure — came up to then-Prince Charles and was pictured "throwing his arms around" the royal, per the Daily Mail. Though Charles could've recoiled given the breaking of royal protocol, he wrapped his arms around the young boy and was pictured smiling as he did so. Later on in the day, the young boy's father said of Charles, "He loves my son," and even little Valentin confessed that it wasn't "the first time" Charles had "hugged [him]." Don't forget — Prince William and Prince Harry were once young boys who needed a hug too!

Charles broke one of the late queen's rules about seafood

If there is one area of royal protocol that is immensely regulated and almost always followed to a tee, it's eating and dining. Guests cannot start eating until King Charles III does, and they can't eat once he's finished with his meal — the same rules applied to the late Queen Elizabeth II. The late queen had a number of rules surrounding cuisine, such as little to no garlic and absolutely no shellfish or raw meat. Why? Apparently, there was a worry of potential food poisoning, which would keep a royal away from public duty for too long (plus there's the topic of an unpleasant breath).

"It is a very sensible move to abandon having seafood when out and about on public duties," former royal butler Grant Harold to Woman & Home (via Hello!) explained of the protocol. "We don't want a member of the royal family having a serious reaction to food poisoning, especially if they're on an overseas tour."

But despite his mother's steadfast rules, Charles engaged in the messy act of eating oysters — a hated food of the queen's and of Prince Philip's — while attending the 2013 Whitstable Oyster Festival. Charles was seen gulping down one of the delicacies, and he rather seemed to enjoy himself — you know what they say, there's nothing better than forbidden fruit (or shellfish).

The royal has regularly broken protocol by sharing his political opinions

Issues such as childhood education, food insecurity, and the arts make up a portion of the many organizations the royals support, yet even while doing so, the members of the firm keep their political opinions to themselves. Queen Elizabeth II worked with politicians and prime ministers across the board of political ideology, and she never expressed her own thoughts on the issues of the day — this kept her above reproach and allowed people from all walks of life to identify with her beliefs (or lack thereof, at least publicly). Meanwhile, King Charles III has not abided by such royal protocol and has made his political thoughts well known throughout his time as Prince of Wales and now as king. He even wrote a column for Newsweek about one of the issues closest to his heart — the environment — urging leaders worldwide to act swiftly to address climate change.

"When I first spoke publicly about the environment, many wondered if my sense of urgency was misplaced. That view has shifted in the intervening decades, though all too slowly, and, even today, lacks the urgency needed," Charles wrote. "What is clear is that our actions matter. We know what we need to do. With a growing population creating ever-increasing demand on the planet's finite resources, we must reduce emissions and take action to tackle the carbon already in the atmosphere, including from fossil fuel and coal-fired power stations."

King Charles walked Meghan Markle down the aisle on her wedding day

It's a tradition as old as time — on her wedding day, the bride's father walks her down the aisle, and the royal family has mostly honored this tradition as well. King Charles III, however, has opted to break this unwritten rule on more than one occasion. The first time was when he married Queen Camilla in 2005. Since this was Charles' second marriage (which, in itself, broke royal rules), he also opted to walk Camilla down the aisle instead of waiting for her at the altar as is tradition. It was a private ceremony, so it was probably easier to bend the rules a little.

Charles found himself defying tradition once again when Prince Harry got married. Few will ever forget the absolute omnishambles Harry and Meghan faced a few days before their royal wedding when Meghan's dad let them know that he wouldn't be able to make it to the ceremony. Everyone was wondering who would be walking the future duchess down the aisle, with many expecting it to be her mother, Doria Ragland. Instead, Charles did the honors. Speaking to Harper's Bazaar UK, royal journalist Duncan Larcombe explained that Meghan's mother didn't feel comfortable with the enormous amount of pressure that came with fulfilling such an important role, so Harry ended up asking Charles, who has a lifetime of experience when it comes to fulfilling royal roles and duties. Charles happily obliged, royal protocol be damned.

Charles switched up his coronation attire

Given his penchant for breaking the rules, it's no surprise that King Charles III defied a couple of royal traditions on his coronation day, and we kind of love him for it. Charles might live in a literal castle, but that doesn't mean he's clueless when it comes to the issues his subjects face. With the cost of living higher than ever in 2023, the king opted for a toned-down coronation event, adjusting and even eliminating some traditional royal customs (some more significant than others). One of the most obvious changes he made was saying no to all the haberdashery usually associated with this royal event. This included forgoing the traditional breeches and silk stockings his predecessors wore at their coronation ceremonies. Instead, Charles went for a more modern approach by wearing his military uniform.

Luckily for the king, palace aides were eager to make this change, with a source telling The Sun, "Senior aides think breeches look too dated." We couldn't agree more. The insider also said that Charles wasn't necessarily against wearing the elaborate stockings, but he had a perfectly good suit and agreed with aides that silk stockings and breeches are very much outdated and don't align with his goal to modernize the monarchy.

Charles also did away with the coronation custom that requires dukes to bend the knee and swear their allegiance to him. William, Prince of Wales, however, still honored the custom.

Charles allowed coronation guests to dress down

Royal customs dictate what the monarch must wear to their coronation and stipulate how their guests must dress. Anda Rowland, the director of Anderson & Sheppard tailors, told GQ that coronation ceremonies had always been a way for esteemed people to show off how important they are. For instance, if you were from a noble family, you got to wear a coronet to the ceremony along with a velvet cloak lined with fur (not unlike the ones you see in movies). Passed down in families, these cloaks have been donned at coronation ceremonies since the 17th century. King Charles III, however, decided that this was as outdated as silk stockings and told guests that business suits would do.

While some likely heaved a sigh of relief (who wants to look like a character from "Game of Thrones" at a modern coronation, after all?), it appears some of those important people were looking forward to channeling their inner Jon Snow and they complained loudly about the changes the new monarch was making. "Our robes go back to the 19th century and I would have been the fifth generation to wear them. It's very sad," an unnamed aristocrat grumbled to The Telegraph. "I'm very sad it's a dress-down occasion," a very discontented Lord Carrington complained. In the end, the palace told the disgruntled lords that they could wear their robes if they so wished but that they had to leave their coronets in the attic.

He broke royal tradition when he selected Prince George to be one of his Pages of Honor

King Charles III very much had an "out with the old, and in with the new" approach to his coronation ceremony. Aside from doing away with many of the traditional clothing associated with the event, the king took it one step further and broke some rules when it came to selecting his page boys for the ceremony.

Royal watchers were delighted when Charles announced that his grandson, Prince George, would be one of his Pages of Honor at the coronation. Public approval aside, this choice wasn't exactly in line with tradition — for one, it's usually children in their teens who are bestowed this honor, and they usually come from noble families, not the royal family. Prince George is not only third in line to the throne, but he was also 9 at the time of the coronation.

The king announced his Pages of Honor in an Instagram post featuring a new portrait of him and Queen Camila, and the comments were mostly positive, with many expressing their delight at the role the young prince would play in the ceremony. "Love this new picture and that Prince George will have a big role on this very important day! I can't wait," one follower commented on the post. "Such a beautiful portrait, and wonderful news about the Pages of Honour," another said. "Lovely that George gets to take part in the procession," another fan wrote.

King Charles broke coronation transportation rules

Arriving at your coronation in a golden carriage might seem like a fairytale dream come true to many, but as with all things in real life, it's not nearly as glamorous as it looks in the movies. In a significant deviation from tradition, King Charles III opted to travel to his coronation ceremony in Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee State Coach instead of the Golden State Coach. Why? Because even the queen, who rarely complained about anything, once expressed how uncomfortable traveling in the Gold State Coach is. In a BBC documentary, "The Coronation," (via The Telegraph) the former monarch revealed that the ride to and from her coronation in the ancient coach was anything but glamorous. "It's only sprung on leather. Not very comfortable," she said, describing the ride as "horrible." It's no wonder Charles forfeited a ride in the antique carriage to his coronation. He did, however, make the drive back to the palace in the old coach, likely because it has been such a vital part of coronations past.

King George III had the Gold State Coach made in 1760, and since 1831, it's served as the monarch's transportation to their coronation ceremony. Of course, having been made in the 18th century, the coach doesn't have any of the modern perks the queen's Diamond Jubilee State Coach has, like heating, air conditioning, hydraulic suspension, and electric windows. Taking all of this into account, it makes sense that Charles opted for his mother's coach to travel to the ceremony.

Charles and Camilla have shown public displays of affection on a few occasions

It's no secret that royal couples aren't big on PDA when they're attending royal engagements, and while this might seem like a strict rule of the monarchy, it isn't. "There is no actual etiquette or royal protocol that says the couple must refrain from PDA," founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, Myka Meier, told People. However, it does seem to be one of those unspoken royal rules that most adhere to. "Different types of occasions call for different types of behavior," royal author Judy Wade added. King Charles III and Queen Camilla have broken this unspoken rule on more than one occasion — even before they were married. In 2001, Camilla was seen kissing her future hubby on the cheek when he arrived at an event hosted at Somerset House. After they got married, the two shared another public kiss when Camilla planted one on the king after he kicked butt in a polo match.

While Charles and Camilla have been spotted holding hands and walking arm in arm on various occasions, public kisses have been few and far between, so much so that E! News published a piece on a kiss Charles and Camilla shared when they met up in Singapore in 2021 ahead of their Autumn Tour in Southeast Asia and India. According to the outlet, this was the couple's third official public kiss.

He allowed journalists a behind-the-scenes look at the palace

In November 2023, royal fans were blessed with the news that King Charles III had allowed the BBC to take a peek behind the castle walls during the year and that every detail and event that had been observed would be presented to the public in a 90-minute documentary titled "Charles III: The Coronation Year." Buckingham Palace has been a no-go zone for the press in the past, but it seems the new king is eager to open up the castle doors and give the public a glimpse of royal life.

BBC journalist Kate Phillips, who had the honor of seeing what goes on within the walls of the palace, expressed her excitement over the documentary, promising viewers a unique experience. "The documentary will offer a unique insight into King Charles and Queen Camilla," she teased (via Yahoo Lifestyle Australia).

Interestingly enough, this is only the second time in history that the press has been granted this kind of access, and the first time didn't go so well. In 1969, Queen Elizabeth II allowed a film crew access to the palace to create the now-infamous documentary "Royal Family." It was not well received by the public, shattering the fairytale perception many were determined to hold onto when it came to the monarchy. So bad was the backlash that the queen ended up banning it, but clearly, Charles is ready to give it another go.

Charles has taken to showing more emotion than Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was always composed, refraining from drama, only making her voice heard when she deemed it necessary. "I need to be seen to be believed," the queen reportedly said (via HR Morning). Charles, however, is taking a different approach, making sure that, while he's seen, he's also heard, royal expert Sharon Carpenter told E! News.

"The queen was known for not showing any emotion—which worked, for her, for a good amount of time," Carpenter told the outlet. "But right now we're in a time where people want someone who is more relatable across the board." Charles seems to know this, and therefore he's been trying his best to relate more to the people he governs, and this includes doing away with the stiff upper lip Brits are known for. Carpenter noted that the monarch showing emotion can be incredibly powerful — when Charles lost his cool with a leaky pen while signing documents shortly after the queen's death, it was both funny and relatable. The queen would never have let her frustration show, but somehow, Charles' very human moment connected with many people.

It appears Charles has also allowed other members of the royal family to show more emotion and connect with the public in ways they haven't before. Carpenter notes that, since Charles ascended the throne,  William and Catherine, Prince and Princess of Wales, have been much more relaxed with members of the public, hugging fans and taking selfies, which used to be a big no-no.