Royal Rules Prince William Has Been Caught Breaking

It's no secret that the British monarchy has to follow a lot of strict rules. These rules can range from pretty serious, like royals being prohibited from voting, to very silly, such as the ban on them playing Monopoly. Of course, some of them have been known to disregard the directives, especially considering that many of the restrictions are rather outdated. 

The members of the royal family who do rebuff protocol often find themselves making headlines, though. Meghan Markle frequently found herself in hot water for that exact reason, yet claimed she wasn't taught the rules that had been ingrained in most of the other royals presumedly since birth. In the Netflix docuseries, "Harry & Meghan," she said, "There's no class [where] some person goes, 'Sit like this, cross your legs like this, use this fork, don't do this, curtsy then, wear this kind of hat.' It doesn't happen. So I needed to learn a lot" (via The Independent).

Yet it's not just Markle who's struggled with royal protocol. The next heir to the throne himself, Prince William, has broken the rules over the years, sometimes on purpose. However, perhaps because of his reputation for being very composed, as well as his known loyalty to his family and his place in line for the throne, you could say it's extra shocking when he rebels. So let's break down some royal rules Prince William has been caught breaking.

Prince William flew on the same aircraft as Prince George

The Prince and Princess of Wales obviously aren't your average parents, and unlike most families, they aren't supposed to travel with their children. More specifically, Prince William isn't allowed to fly on the same aircraft as his son, Prince George, since they are both direct heirs to the throne. If you're wondering why that matters, that rule is in place to protect the monarchy if the aircraft crashes, according to Express. It's safe to say that this rule was probably made back when airplanes and helicopters weren't as safe as they are today, but either way, it's rather unsettling.

Prince William, however, has broken that rule, beginning when Prince George was just a baby in 2014. That's when Prince George joined both of his parents on a jet to Australia and New Zealand where they went for royal business. Presumably because of Prince George's young age at the time, the late Queen Elizabeth II made an exception. Their press office told BBC, "They had to ask the queen for permission, but she said yes."

However, the queen allegedly wasn't a fan of Prince William flying his family in helicopters. In 2021, a source close to the crown dished to The Sun, "She ... does not think it is worth the risk for all five of them to carry on flying together and can't imagine what would happen. It would spark a constitutional crisis."

Prince William hugged commoners

It's widely known that it's against royal protocol for the monarchy to hug members of the public. In fact, commoners aren't even supposed to offer up a handshake first. Royal expert Victoria Arbiter told Insider, "Really it comes down to don't touch a royal. I'm sure there's lots of security reasons associated with it, but it's just not befitting of their position." With that said, a hug is a major no-no, but there have been instances where Prince William has thrown that rule to the wind.

One of the more famous times that Prince William hugged someone was in 2016 when he was photographed affectionately squeezing Chewbacca at a "Star Wars" event with Prince Harry (via The Independent). That next year, he broke the rule to embrace a woman after the Grenfell Tower fire. Entertainment Tonight reported that the future king comforted her when she couldn't locate her husband in the tragedy.

It seems that Prince William is willing to offer up hugs when the time calls for it, like when an elderly man in Scotland appeared to be very emotional to meet him (via The Daily Mail). A source told The Daily Mirror, "They want to be more approachable, less formal, less stuffy, and break away with a lot of the tradition." Prince William definitely didn't seem stuffy when he was seen wrapping his arms around Lioness soccer players in 2022 (via Hello). Even royals sometimes need a hug.

The future king engaged in PDA

You could say it's a good thing that Prince William has been caught breaking the "no PDA" rule since he should be able to show affection toward his own wife, Kate Middleton, whenever he sees fit. However, the married couple famously barely touched each other when visiting the Taj Mahal on a royal tour back in 2016. Myka Meier, an expert on royal etiquette, explained why to People. "Technically the couple are working representatives of British monarchy," Meier said. "The couple are likely to show very little PDA, if any, to remain professional during their designated roles abroad."

Thankfully, the couple has loosened up over the years. They began breaking protocol to display affection on different occasions. According to Elle, the two were super playful with one another during a 2022 trip to Jamaica, and later that year, Prince William was seen planting a kiss on Middleton's cheek at the Royal Charity Polo Cup match. They were also reportedly acting quite smitten at the 2023 BAFTA Awards, with Middleton caught on camera giving the future king a tap on his behind (via Twitter).

It seems that fans are thrilled that Prince William is finally showing off his romantic side, so much so that a TikTok of him holding hands with Middleton while walking in the Bahamas went viral in 2022.

Prince William took selfies with fans

While selfies have pretty much become the norm, they're apparently against the rules if you're a royal. According to a royal correspondent in 2017, Meghan Markle confirmed this by saying, "We're not allowed to do selfies" (via Twitter). Prince William also turned them down in the past, with The Daily Mail reporting that he once said he is "allergic to selfies."

But he has seemingly broken that rule on other occasions, and he's been caught posing for selfies as far back as 2014. That's when Prince William took a selfie with a preteen who later gushed to Hello, "I asked him for a picture and he said, 'You can't beat a good selfie on Christmas Day.'" He was later seen posing for another selfie with a fan while on a royal outing in Ireland in 2020. That fan's mother appeared to be happy that he broke protocol for it, posting the pictures on Twitter and writing, "A really nice guy."

By 2022, Prince William seemed over the rule entirely, considering that he took several selfies with the public when on an official trip to Scarborough (via The Scarborough News). He even put his arm around a woman in one of the photos, which, as mentioned, is also against protocol. Many royal watchers, however, believe that Prince William is breaking some of the more outdated rules on purpose in an effort to modernize the monarchy.

Prince William spoke about politics

It's a widely known fact that the royal family can't talk about politics because they are expected to remain neutral on issues. Prince William, however, found himself making headlines in 2019 for discussing the state of affairs when on a royal visit to England's Lake District. That's because, according to People, he shockingly asked farmers there if they were "worried about Brexit." For those who don't know, Brexit is the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, which went into effect in early 2020.

It seems that the farmers were pleased to discuss their concerns with Prince William, though, even if it was against regulations. One of them said, "I was quite surprised that farmers voted for Brexit, to be honest. It's like turkeys voting for Christmas." Prince William wasn't the only royal who went against protocol with Brexit either, since Marie Claire reports that Queen Elizabeth II also referred to it in a few of her speeches that same year.

You could even say that Prince William breaks the politics rule when discussing climate change, a topic that he appears to be very passionate about despite it being somewhat controversial. He not only launched The Earthshot Prize for solving environmental issues, but also told BBC that it's why he's not into space travel. He said, "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live."

Prince William spent Christmas away from Queen Elizabeth

It may come as a surprise that the royal family has directives even when it comes to how they spend holidays. Before Queen Elizabeth's death in 2022, they were reportedly supposed to spend the holidays with her at Sandringham, where she held a multiday celebration. While going there wasn't necessarily an order, it was a tradition that came with its own set of wacky rules that the royals were expected to obey. Because of that, it became newsworthy when a royal went elsewhere.

Prince William is one of the royals who has come under fire for not attending the royal Christmas festivities on a few occasions. According to The Daily Mail, in 2016 he chose to spend the holidays with Kate Middleton's family instead. They appeared to have had a good reason to, since some of the rules at Sandringham may have been too strict for their children. Parenting expert Lisa Clegg explained, "The children are still very young and so won't understand the restraints that have to be practiced within certain obligations of the royal family and to sit down and be quiet in particular situations."

Prince William skipped the queen's Christmas celebrations again in 2021 after The Sun reported that she stayed in Windsor due to the rise of COVID-19 cases. He has strayed from Christmas tradition in other ways too, like releasing casual family photos as Christmas cards, including 2022's picture where they wore denim and sneakers (via Instagram).

Prince William got rowdy at sporting events

It's obvious that Prince William is a big sports fan, which could be why he's been caught disobeying orders when he gets excited at games. In 2022, for example, he seemingly let his emotions get the best of him when in the stands at Wimbledon. The monarch is clearly a fan of British tennis player Cameron Norrie, because after he lost a point during the quarterfinals, Prince William was captured on camera saying what looked like, "No, no, no, f**k it" (via Twitter). It shouldn't come as a surprise that royals aren't supposed to swear in public. 

That wasn't the only time that Prince William got lost in the moment at a sporting event, either. He and Kate Middleton were seen doing the wave while in the stands at the 2012 Olympics, which was a rare show of enthusiasm for the usually reserved royals. Where Prince William did apparently draw the line, though, was the kiss cam, telling BBC, "I was absolutely dreading they were going to come and show myself and my wife and that would have been very embarrassing."

But Prince William isn't opposed to celebrating with athletes. As mentioned above, he did hug the players of the Lioness women's soccer team after they won a big game in 2022. The fans were all for it, with one writing on Twitter, "I thought Prince William was brilliant — very much the human touch! Great win for England."

The prince went to nursery school

It appears that Prince William has been breaking royal rules since he was a toddler, considering that he was the first of the British monarchy to attend preschool outside the palace. While Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reports that there were reporters present at his nursery school drop-offs, it was important to Princess Diana that he and Prince Harry had a somewhat normal childhood experience, even if they had to break royal protocol to begin their schooling elsewhere.

Prince William kept that same rebellious attitude when it came to his own children, in that he decided to send Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis to school just minutes away from their home in Windsor Castle. This was a break from convention because the royals, particularly a future king like Prince George, would traditionally have to attend boarding school from age 9 on, instead of going to a nearby school each day. A source told Us Weekly, "This decision was driven by William and Kate's desire to have as normal a family life as possible."

The Prince and Princess of Wales have even made it a point to be more hands-on parents, which has seemingly not been the norm for the monarchy in the past either. Royal author Christopher Andersen told Good Housekeeping, "They're not having them raised by a coterie of nannies behind palace walls. Charles had no real exposure as a small child to the world outside the royal circle."

Prince William stayed in Scotland after Princess Diana's death

It seems fair that Prince William wouldn't necessarily care about royal rules right after his mother's shocking death in 1997. The 15-year-old was at Balmoral in Scotland with his family when he learned of the terrible news. While protocol dictated that William and the other royals should do their duty, return to Buckingham Palace in London, and mourn with the public, they decided to stay in Scotland to grieve privately as a family first instead.

This decision reportedly enraged the public, with one editorial in The Sun even reading, "Not one word has come from a royal lip, not one tear has been shed in public from a royal eye. It is as if no one in the royal family has a soul." Because of that backlash, Queen Elizabeth released a statement to defend Prince William and his brother's decision to stay away. Her press secretary explained, "Prince William and Prince Harry themselves want to be with their father and grandparents at this time in the quiet haven of Balmoral."

It could be said that remaining in Scotland turned out to be the right decision for Prince William, who later reflected on that experience when visiting the country as an adult. He recalled, "I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning. And in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors" (via People).

Prince William grew a beard

Prince William actually broke a royal rule when he grew a beard. Yes, you read that right, royals aren't supposed to rock facial hair, which is exactly what Prince William did when on an official trip with the British Navy back in 2008. Not only were beards banned by the Royal Air Force, of which he was a part, but Queen Elizabeth didn't allow them at the palace either. An insider told Express, "She doesn't mind royal men growing beards when they are away in the Armed Forces ... but she expects them to be clean-shaven when they get home."

The beard rule was apparently a huge source of tension between Prince William and Prince Harry,  since Harry said William was forced to shave his beard for his royal wedding while Prince Harry didn't have to for his. Prince Harry explained in his book, "Spare," that the queen had given him special permission, but that Prince William still insisted against it. Prince Harry wrote, "At one point he actually ordered me, as the heir speaking to the spare, to shave" (via Newsweek). When he asked why, he said Prince William replied, "Because I wasn't allowed to keep my beard."

It looks like some of the royals' rules may cause more problems for the family than actually help them navigate their lives. With that said, perhaps Prince William will one day abolish some of the more outdated ones when he eventually becomes king.