8 Rules William & Kate Have Their Staff Follow

The British royal family is famous for following weird rules, especially when it comes to staff. According to British journalist Ryan Parry, who worked undercover as a palace footman, "There are bizarre rules and protocols to follow." Per a tell-all article published in The Mirror, Parry had to adhere to staff rules that dictated where he was permitted to walk. As Parry wrote, "It's frowned upon for junior staff to walk along the middle of the carpets. Footmen keep to the edges." 

Even in light of Parry's experience with royal etiquette, some elements of this protocol have fallen to the wayside over the years. The late Queen Elizabeth would break royal tradition every year by drinking with a certain member of her staff. In an interview with Good Housekeeping, the late queen's chef, Darren McGrady, revealed that every year on December 25, "Her Majesty present[ed] the chef with a glass of whiskey ... That [was] the only time the chef [could go] into the dining room and [have] a glass of whiskey with the royal family."

Just like the queen, Prince William and Princess Kate have chosen to respect certain elements of royal etiquette and discard others. While the pair does still try to maintain the sanctity of the crown, they also try to follow a more casual vision of royal life. Therefore, Prince William and Princess Kate's staff follow very strict rules that enforce just the right amount of formality — and supposedly informality — in their royal residence.

1. No gossiping

The British media is famous for being ruthless (via Reader's Digest), and, over the years, neither Prince William nor Princess Kate has not escaped its wrath. In 2013, US Weekly reported that the British paparazzi rattled Princess Kate by snapping "intimate" photos of her pregnant belly. The publication of these pictures reportedly left Princess Kate feeling violated since they were some of the first images ever made of her baby bump. As if that media intervention weren't stressful enough, Prince William faced a brutal set of cheating rumors during the summer of 2022. Per The Kit, false rumors about the prince's sexual preferences went viral, even leading to a degrading Twitter hashtag.  

Perhaps because of the brutality of these media interactions, Prince William and Princess Kate's staff are not allowed to gossip. According to a report in the Daily Record, the prince and princess of Wales have a "zero tolerance" policy for spreading rumors of any kind. Per the outlet, the couple clarified their position via their description of a job opening in the housekeeping department. Posted on the royal family's website, the job description maintained that Prince William and Princess Kate's housekeeper would have to excel at "maintaining confidentiality and exercising discretion." 

While avoiding workplace gossip might not be easy for everyone, royal staff members are often rewarded for their loyalty. People reports that Prince William and Princess Kate offer their housekeepers some unique perks, such as traveling with the royal family. 

2. Have a keen eye for detail

Royal protocol is all about the details. To maintain tradition, members of the royal family must adhere to strict rules that dictate everything from how they hold their wine glass (by the stem) to how they stir their tea (back and forth). Because of this, British royals also expect their staff to have a keen eye for detail. King Charles, for example, requires that his staff prepare tea using a thermometer, and he will only drink earl gray tea if it has been heated to precisely 100 degrees Celsius, per the Mirror. Prince William and Princess Kate require a similar level of fastidiousness from their cleaning staff.

According to the documentary "Sandringham: The Royals at Christmas" (via the Daily Record), Prince William and Princess Kate expect their housekeepers to notice even the tiniest issues. Tracey Waterman, the royal family's head of staff recruitment, told the filmmakers that the Wales's housekeepers must pass a test to lock down the job. "One of the tests I like to do, to see if a candidate has a potential eye for detail, is to place a dead fly, either in the fireplace or on the carpet," Waterman confessed. "Once the dead fly is placed, I then bring the candidate into the room ... It's a great test ... One out of ten [candidates] will actually bend down and pick [the fly] up. That's the special housekeeper." 

3. Keep your clothes casual

Thanks to all of these strict rules, the British royal family can seem very formal to outsiders. However, at home, Prince William and Princess Kate like to keep things as casual as possible. In his book, "Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown" (via Elle), royal journalist Valentine Low revealed that the Prince and Princess of Wales try to cultivate an informal setting at their residence. To achieve this, the couple has reportedly asked royal staffers not to wear formal attire to their home unless there is an extenuating circumstance. As one anonymous staffer told Low in an interview, "[Prince William] wants it to be casual. The kids run around the office, and he does not want it to be stuffy. If we have important meetings or are going to Buckingham Palace, then, of course, we [dress up]." 

Even though Prince William and Princess Kate enforce this casual clothing rule, the couple has a reputation for being formal. In the Netflix documentary series "Harry & Meghan" (via Daily Mail), Meghan Markle described the experience of meeting Princess Kate for the first time. "I started to understand that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside," Meghan stated. Nonetheless, within the confines of their own residence, the prince and princess of Wales seem to let their guard down. To justify his "no suits" rule, Prince William reportedly told the staffer who interviewed for Low's book: "This is where my family lives."

4. Use modern techniques to discipline the children

Prince William and Princess Kate's "no suits" rule is not the only way the Wales household has diverted from royal traditions. The couple has also rejected traditional parenting methods in favor of a more modern approach to caring for their three children: George, Charlotte, and Louis. According to a report by The Sun, Prince William and Princess Kate want their children to learn to talk about their feelings rather than scream about them. Because of this, nobody in the royal household– staff included– is allowed to shout at the royal children. An anonymous insider told the outlet, "shouting is absolutely 'off limits'" in Prince William and Princess Kate's residence. 

One of the staff members most responsible for enforcing this rule is the couple's longtime nanny, Maria Borrallo. Per a separate piece in The Sun, Borrallo disciplines the children using the modern techniques selected by Prince William and Princess Kate. As an inside source told the outlet, "Maria is firm but she never acts unilaterally with the children on discipline." The insider went on to explain that Maria must reason with the children instead of punishing them: "There's no 'naughty step' [at the residence] but there is a 'chat sofa,' [where] things are explained and consequences outlined." Overall, the insider claims, Prince William and Princess Kate's parenting rules create a nice environment where all parties "are strict with the children but have this magic ability to appear not to be."

5. Do not use the word 'kids'

William and Kate's "no shouting" disciplinary rule may seem reasonable, but their unique parenting techniques do not stop there. Prince William and Princess Kate's staff members are likely forbidden from using certain words in front of George, Charlotte, and Louis. The reason for this reportedly pertains to the educational background of the family's nanny, Maria Borrallo. According to a report by the Mirror, Borrallo graduated from the iconic nannying school, Norland College, where students learn never to use the word "kids." As documentary-maker Louise Heren told the Mirror after spending a year at Norland, "The word 'kid' is banned. It's a mark of respect for the children as individuals." As a result, instead of calling the royal children "kids," Borrallo was taught to refer to them by their first names. 

While some people might find this Norland rule to be unusual, it is worth noting that Borrallo has an excellent relationship with the Wales children. An anonymous insider told People, "Maria loves the children dearly." Moreover, the source shared that Borrallo manages to be caring, even as the children learn all of the regimented rules of royal life: "She can be firm and strict, but she is very loving and soft with them too." Prince William and Princess Kate have also been reportedly pleased by Borrallo's performance. A year after the birth of the young Prince George, Princess Kate told her friends that the Norland nanny was "amazing" (per Express).

6. Call Prince William by his name

The royal children aren't the only ones that staff must call by their first names. According to royal journalist Valentine Low in an interview with Express, the prince of Wales asked his staff to call him "William." In Low's view, Prince William's request breaks with years of tradition and even differs considerably from the rules that King Charles once had in place. The journalist told Express: "It's really interesting the levels of formality and informality. In Charles' household, when he was Prince of Wales, you know, first thing in the morning, it was Your Royal Highness ... With William, there was none of that." 

Prince William's attempts at informality contrast with King Charles's regard for his own staff. My London reports that the king is regimented with his staff and even asks them to warm his biscuits to a specific temperature. Separate reports even indicate that the king won't take a bath if the bath plug isn't in the proper position. Unlike his father, Prince William tries not to be finicky with his employees. As Low revealed in the same interview with Express, "[Prince William's] closest advisors ... would definitely be on first-name terms [with the prince]." On top of that, Prince William has even broken protocol by eating with his staff: "[Meetings were] very informal, they'd, sort of, share pizzas."

7. Do not comment on Kate's dresses

Over the years, Princess Catherine has become a royal style icon. From her glittery roller disco outfit in 2008 to her gorgeous 2018 homage to the late Princess Diana (via People), the Princess of Wales has managed to put together some of the best royal looks. Even Vogue praised the princess for the extra thought and cultural sensitivity that she seems to put into her outfits. As reported by the outlet, "[B]oth Kate and Diana have a tradition of tailoring each outfit to the intentions of their appearance, often paying homage to the country or place they are visiting, or the nature of the event they're attending." 

While some people would enjoy all of the fashion-related praise, Princess Kate seems to have tired of it. As reported by Express, Prince William and Princess Kate's staff have been banned from officially commenting on her clothing to the press. Before this rule came into effect, palace employees were allowed to respond to requests for information about her attire, such as brand, designer, and cost. As of 2022, however, Kensington Palace has stopped releasing this information. 

The reason for this shift could pertain to the crown's focus on charity in light of Britain's economic crisis. As royal expert Richard Palmer opined in another interview with Express, "[T]he cost-of-living crisis may well be part of that ... It's not a good look ... to turn up to a food bank in a £3,000 coat."

8. Communications staff shouldn't react to negative news

In the Netflix documentary "Harry & Meghan," Prince Harry opened up about the role of the royal communications teams in palace life. According to the prince's account, each member of the royal family has their own public relations team, which deals with the press. Interestingly, however, Prince Harry claimed that these separate teams would compete with each other for media attention. "There's leaking, but there's also planting of stories. So if the comms team wants to be able to remove a negative story about their principal, they will trade and give [the media] something about someone else's principal," the prince said in the documentary (via Harper's Bazaar).

While this arrangement might seem like something like a free for all, the royal press staff does have to follow some rules. Prince William and Princess Kate's staff, for example, do not comment gratuitously on negative news. According to Prince William's former press secretary, Miguel Head, the communications team only fights unflattering stories in extreme circumstances. As Head — who also used to represent Prince Harry — told the Harvard Gazette in an interview, "I suppose the way that we dealt with [bad press] was really directed by [the princes] ... So, our rule of thumb was we only commented reactively on stories if the stories were judged, in our view, to have a detrimental reputational impact." However, Head claimed that this was very rare: "[T]he bar for that was quite high."