The Most Bizarre Royal Requests Of All Time

In some ways, members of the British royal family hold themselves to very high expectations. Because they must behave according to protocol, these public figures follow dozens of rules, which guide their every move. For example, when royals head off to the bathroom, they are banned from uttering the word "toilet." Meanwhile, at garden parties, the women are expected to hold their chins parallel to the floor, even as they descend a flight of stairs. As protocol specialist, William Hanson, told Royal Central, "The protocol that is still in place ensures a certain level of respect can be achieved — respect that is very easily earned by the royal family."

Perhaps because of the intensity of these rules, British royals don't just hold themselves to high standards; on occasion, their expectations spill over to their friends, family, and staffers. Over the years, this has resulted in plenty of bizarre royal requests. From the queen mother's desire for an equerry who drank to Prince Harry's hopes for Prince Archie at King Charles III's coronation, members of Britain's most famous family have not been afraid to ask for anything short of the impossible. 

The queen mother asked her staff to drink

Elizabeth, the queen mother, has always been known to enjoy a glass or two of wine. She was even said to overindulge on occasion. As royal expert, William Hanson, told Express, "The late queen mother liked to drink." Apparently, she inadvertently revealed this fact to passersby who noticed her whizzing past them in the back of the palace vehicle. "The public were waving along the mall as she drove up, and the queen mother, being very generous, was waving back. But she was so tittled that she was slipping slowly down the seat, and just disappeared, and fell on the floor," Hanson revealed.

Interestingly, however, some sources indicate that the queen mother required her staff to join her liquid indulgences. In his book, "Behind Palace Doors," Colin Burgess opened up about his experience working as the queen mother's equerry. The former staffer wrote, "I was never much of a boozer, but I was expected to match the guests drink for drink" (via The Daily Mail). He even claimed that this bizarre royal request came from the queen mother, who "was deeply offended if ever I said no to more alcohol."

While this royal request might seem unusual, the queen mother was said to have a large personality. Her biographer, Gareth Russell, told Page Six, "She liked to put on a show. And there was an almost wink, wink, nudge-nudge campness to the way she lived her life."

The queen mother requested that her staff only speak to the press anonymously

In the 21st century, the British royal family isn't too keen on their staffers spilling their secrets to the press. However, back in the day, the firm's stance on employee/press relations was a little more complicated. According to documents obtained by The Observer, Elizabeth, the queen mother gave press-related instructions to Marion Crawford, the governess who educated Princess Margaret and then-Princess Elizabeth.

In a machine-typed letter, the queen mother outlined her expectations for Crawford's interactions with an American newspaper: "I do feel, most definitely, that you should not write and sign articles about the children, as people in positions of confidence with us must be utterly oyster."

That being said, the queen mother's phrasing left a clear caveat: Crawford could speak to the press as long as she remained anonymous. Hammering in this point, the queen mother went on to write, "Mr. Morrah, who I saw the other day, seemed to think that you could help him with his articles and get paid from America. This would be quite all right as long as your name did not come into it." Unfortunately, however, the palace nanny did not take the queen mother's bizarre royal request seriously. Crawford published a signed article about her time behind palace walls, sealing her fate as an exile from royal life.

When Princess Margaret asked to wear Elizabeth Taylor's diamond

The queen mother was far from being the only royal to make a bizarre request. Her daughter, Princess Margaret, was said to ask odd favors from Hollywood celebrities. One of the best examples was said to have occurred at a wedding attended by the actor Elizabeth Taylor. According to the book "Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century," by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, Margaret approached Taylor at the event. Apparently, the princess noticed that the actor was wearing the famous 33.19-carat diamond ring that Richard Burton had bought her, once owned by German actor Vera Krupp. "It's so large! How very vulgar," Margaret allegedly told Taylor (via Vanity Fair).

As if that comment weren't inappropriate enough, the biography claims that Margaret went on to ask Taylor to let her try on the ring — although it was worth $307,000 (or about $2 million today). Once Margaret placed the enormous diamond on her finger, Taylor allegedly produced a sardonic retort, noting "that the princess didn't think the jewel so vulgar when she was wearing it."

Per Kashner and Schoenberger's account, the actor retold the story to her social circle many times, always imitating Margaret's posh British accent. Ultimately, it seems, the princess' crass comments did little to help her befriend Taylor and Burton. In a personal diary entry, Burton once complained that anyone who spent time with Margaret got "a snob-ridden load of s***s" (via The Telegraph).

Princess Margaret requested that Judy Garland sing for her

Over the years, Princess Margaret made more than one bizarre royal request to celebrities. Unfortunately, however, the princess' royal tone did not always come across well. As royal expert Theo Aronson wrote in the book, "Princess Margaret: A Biography," Margaret's regal attitude actually offended Judy Garland at a Hollywood party. Per Aronson's account, the drama started when Margaret spotted Garland at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The princess sent a staffer over to the actor, requesting a musical performance. Woefully, the formality surrounding this request backfired.

Garland was utterly put off by what Aronson described as Margaret's "lordly tone." She allegedly instructed the staffer to "go and tell that nasty, rude little princess that we've known each other for long enough and gabbed in enough ladies' rooms that she should skip the ho-hum royal routine and just pop over here and ask me herself" (via Biography). Mocking Margaret's royal role, Garland reportedly went on to say, "Tell her I'll sing if she christens a ship first."

Thanks to all of these Tinseltown antics, Margaret was refused permission to return to the United States in 1973. Lord Cromer, the then-British ambassador to the U.S., was reportedly mortified by the company she kept in the land of Hollywood glam. In an official statement, the British foreign committee attributed its decision to "the behavior of some of HRH's friends, who tend to take such visits very lightly" (via The Daily Mail).

Prince Philip asked Cate Blanchett to help fix his DVD player

If Princess Margaret struggled in her interactions with Hollywood celebrities, Prince Philip didn't do much better. He is rumored to have made a bizarre royal request of the Australian film star, Cate Blanchett. In an episode of "The Jonathan Ross Show," Blanchett claimed that Philip asked her for advice on how to fix his DVD player at a formal lunch (via YouTube). Apparently, the interaction began when the prince asked Blanchett if she was an actor. When the movie star replied in the affirmative, the prince allegedly launched into an explanation of his technical difficulties: "Well, I was given a DVD player for Christmas, and I can't work out where to put the green cord or the red cord."

Speaking to Ross, Blanchett claimed that she told Philip she wasn't qualified to help him. She reportedly mustered the reply, "Well, sir, I'm really — it's not my area of expertise." As she recalled the events of that royal luncheon, the actor mused, "I couldn't work out for the life of me why I'd been invited."

This was not the only time that Philip offended a big-time celebrity. In his autobiography, "Me," Elton John wrote that Philip insulted his yellow Aston Martin, calling it "ghastly." Per the singer's account, at a meeting in the 1970s, Philip confronted him about the vehicle: "Ridiculous. Makes you look like a bloody fool. Get rid of it" (via Yahoo).

Queen Elizabeth asked that her sandwiches be shaped like circles

Although some royal requests are highly personal, others span generations. Queen Elizabeth, for example, was said to ask to eat round sandwiches, rather than square ones, out of respect for a decades-long royal tradition. Speaking in the documentary "Secrets of the Royal Kitchen," Elizabeth's former chef, Graham Newbould, revealed that many royals consider square-shaped sandwiches a symbol of treason. "The royal family, when they're having square sandwiches, they always had the corners cut off. It's tradition. It goes back a long time. In the olden days, if you served anything to the monarch that had a point on it, it meant that you were trying to overthrow the throne," Newbould explained (via YouTube). 

Because of these historical implications, Elizabeth enjoyed small sandwiches called jam pennies. As former Buckingham Palace chef, Darren McGrady, revealed in a YouTube video, "The queen was served jam pennies in the nursery as a little girl. She's had them for afternoon tea ever since." This simple treat combines jam and butter on classic white bread, although McGrady divulged that the queen had a particular preference for strawberry jam. "We make the jam at Balmoral Castle with the gorgeous Scottish strawberries from the gardens." Of course, a defining feature of jam pennies is their round shape, reminiscent of the large pennies that were once part of Britain's pre-decimal currency.

Prince Philip requested that guests allow him to lead dinner conversations

Queen Elizabeth was not the only royal known to make bizarre requests at meals. Her husband, the late Prince Philip, was also rumored to enforce a strict rule at formal dinners. According to the book "Not in Front of the Corgis: Secrets of Life Behind the Royal Curtains" by royal expert Brian Hoey, "When Prince Philip gives a private dinner, he likes to decide the subject for conversation" (via The Daily Mirror). Unfortunately, this tendency has left at least one of the prince's guests feeling like a fish out of water. As Hoey wrote, "One lady was dismayed to find she was expected to contribute on the subject of 'deciduous trees,' about which she knew absolutely nothing."

Unfortunately for guests, Philip's odd request does not necessarily stop there. Hoey's book also alleges that the prince would grow frustrated if his dinner company didn't have the knowledge base to converse about the subject of his choice. "If guests are not quite as knowledgeable as they should be, the prince can become very touchy — but if someone is more expert than him it can just as easily ruin the occasion," the royal expert wrote.

While this behavior might seem unusual, Philip was known for his overall lack of social graces. For example, on a 1995 trip to Scotland, the prince reportedly asked a driving instructor, "How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?" (via CNN).

Prince Edward asked Queen Elizabeth to invent a new title for him

While some royal requests could be considered offensive, others are more endearing. When it came time for Prince Edward to walk down the aisle with Sophie Rhys-Jones, it was expected that the queen would make him a duke, as she had done for Edward's brothers before him. In fact, speaking to The Telegraph, one anonymous courtier alleged that the prince was originally going to become the Duke of Cambridge. However, Edward is said to have forgone that historic title for a new one. According to the source, "Prince Edward was going to be the Duke of Cambridge, but he watched the film 'Shakespeare in Love,' which had a character called the Earl of Wessex. He liked the sound of it and asked the queen if he could have that instead."

At the time, Edward's choice of title was baffling to some. Per a 1999 report by the BCC, the last man to bear Edward's title was King Harold II — who perished in 1066 after an arrow pierced his eye at the Battle of Hastings. Nevertheless, Queen Elizabeth's youngest son did ultimately receive his dukedom. On March 9, 2023, King Charles III officially made Edward and Sophie the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh. 

When traveling, King Charles requests to bring his own bed

When it comes to making bizarre royal requests, King Charles III has something of a reputation. The monarch has been known to ask his staffers to do ridiculous jobs — a tendency that, according to the documentary "Serving the Royals: Inside the Firm," once earned him the title "The Pampered Prince." Charles' many requests are said to include asking his staff to help him transport large personal belongings when he travels.

In her book, "The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — The Truth and the Turmoil," royal insider Tina Brown claimed that Charles travels with his own toilet seat and toilet paper in tow (via The Daily Mirror). Brown also wrote that the king asks his staff to pack up his bed, orthopedic mattress, and assorted furniture whenever he goes on trips. These employees reportedly send Charles' possessions to his destination days before he departs. 

Interestingly, Charles is rumored to have other idiosyncrasies that his employees have to work around. In an interview with Hello, chef Graham Tinsley opened up about his experience catering meals for the monarch. "Charles doesn't like chocolate, he doesn't like coffee, nor does he like garlic. So we do have to consider these things when we're creating a menu for him." Tinsley also said that the king likes to dine with a few trinkets at the table, including "a little silver Maldon sea salt container and his favorite cushion."

Princess Catherine asked her friends to stop calling her Kate

One doesn't have to be born royal to make a royal request. Princess Catherine, who still tends to be referred to as Kate Middleton by the press, is said to have tired so much of her nickname that she asked her friends and family to stop calling her "Kate." In a 2008 piece for the Sunday Express, royal journalist Adam Helliker claimed that the then-princess-to-be wanted her inner circle to call her "Catherine." 

The idea behind this shift was to make Catherine seem more regal. As Helliker wrote, "With Prince William's engagement now a surefire certainty (even Ladbrokes has stopped taking bets on whether it will happen after a flurry of well-placed wagers) there are intriguing signs that Kate Middleton is preparing for her future role."

In the years surrounding her eventual wedding to Prince William, Catherine began to present a more queenly public persona, developing a more formal fashion sense and even adopting a more aristocratic accent.

Meghan Markle might have requested a one-on-one with King Charles

Meghan Markle and King Charles III are hardly known for having a close relationship. However, some sources indicate that the Duchess of Sussex made a strange request of the monarch following Queen Elizabeth's funeral. Royal commentator Neil Sean alleged that Meghan reached out to Charles, asking for a private conference: "According to a very good source, and as ever, allegedly, she'd now like, before they return back to California, to have a one-to-one audience with King Charles III" (via YouTube).

Sean, who has historically expressed negative views of the Sussexes, said that the meeting would be mainly "to clear the air, put the rights from wrongs, and explain some of the rationale behind what they've been doing over the last two years."

While it's unclear whether or not this meeting actually happened, royal expert Katie Nicholl believes that some sort of private conversation likely took place. Speaking with Entertainment Tonight, Nicholl said, "I'm sure that there was time for the king to have an audience, in some capacity, with Harry and Meghan. I mean, don't forget that Charles is very, very keen to try and smooth relations." That being said, Nicholl said that rumors of Meghan's unique request remain to be confirmed: "Any speculation that she requested a meeting is probably just that — speculation."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asked that Archie be celebrated on Charles' coronation day

Buckingham Palace scheduled the coronation of King Charles III for May 6, 2023. Incidentally, this date also happens to be Prince Archie's fourth birthday. As of the publication of this article, there exists much speculation regarding what role — if any — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will play on Charles' special day.

However, one royal insider claims that the pair would like to attend the event and even have a royal request in mind. As the source told OK Magazine, "Harry and Meghan are keen that they too should be a part of that special family moment. ... The Sussexes have asked for some kind of celebration or acknowledgment to be factored into the day's plans to ensure that [Archie's] fourth birthday won't get lost during the momentous day."

To some fans of the royal family, Harry's coronation request seems unusual. After all, the prince dropped several bombshell accusations against the firm via his Netflix docuseries "Harry & Meghan," as well as his memoir, "Spare." Harry's public airing of dirty laundry has left many of his family members feeling betrayed. As royal expert Katie Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight, "I think there is just a great sense of mistrust within the family. They just simply feel that any reconciliation is not in the cards because they can't trust that it's not going to end up in a TV show or in a book" (via YouTube).