Royal Rules Kate Middleton Has Broken Since Becoming Princess Of Wales

By the time commoner Catherine Middleton wed Prince William, the future King of England, she had plenty of time to learn about royal protocol and the relentless demands that marrying into the British Monarchy would place on her. By most accounts, she has done a smashing job at mastering etiquette and has become a favorite member of the Royal Family both at home and abroad. When Queen Elizabeth II died, she and Prince William were heartbroken but seamlessly took on more responsibility with new titles, obligations, and even more demanding roles within "The Firm." 

Since the queen passed, the couple has relied on each other to get through the challenges her absence has presented, and their marriage is reportedly stronger than ever. A palace source told Us Weekly, "They're in awe of each other," and "William tells anyone who will listen that he couldn't do it without Kate, and she echoes that right back." Part of what makes the Princess of Wales so appealing to the masses is her efforts to make the monarchy more relatable. Despite having one of the most famous faces on the planet, she gracefully balances her venerated position on the world stage with that of a modern woman who is also a wife, mom, and citizen. When she occasionally breaks royal protocol, it generally results in onlookers' delight, because it makes us feel like she's one of us. Princess Catherine chooses these occasions carefully, but they result in most people appreciating her all the more. 

She spoke on a cellphone with a fan

Just before the new king's coronation, some members of the Royal Family, including Princess Catherine, participated in an impromptu walkabout among the crowd that had gathered in Central London. When a fan offered the princess her cell phone, she took the opportunity to chat with the owner's relative who was unable to travel to England for the big event. This was unprecedented, but having come of age in the era that gave rise to social media, savvy Princess Catherine knows it's here to stay. She has one of the most photographed faces in the world, and as such, she has also embraced one of the most popular trends to emerge in recent years — taking a selfie. She is frequently seen posing with fans these days, even lending a hand to balance the smartphone if necessary. 

There is no official rule about royals posing in selfies, but the queen was said to dislike them, preferring eye-to-eye contact. One fan who attended a royal event in 2017 shared with Insider that guests had been told not to attempt selfies with the royals. "The one thing they talked about a lot was no selfies, and the reason was that they didn't want people turning their backs to the royal family and the queen. And that was very important to them," he explained. Since then, however, the rules seem to have become less rigid, and even King Charles III has indulged the trend on occasion. 

She risked her life on a royal walkabout

Throughout the course of history, it was common for kings and queens to have food tasters eat the meal in question before the royal took a bite. This was done in order to ensure that the food hadn't been poisoned. Modern monarchies don't use this practice as much anymore, but that doesn't mean that members of the royal family are in the habit of eating or drinking items handed to them by strangers. The reason for this is obvious, and so it was shocking when, during an impromptu walkabout before the coronation, Prince William took a sip from a cup handed to him by a random woman who was there for the festivities. Perhaps even more surprising, the future king then handed the cup to Princess Catherine, who also took a sip. Had the woman harbored ill will towards the royal couple, things could have ended very differently, but it was all in good fun. 

It turns out that the woman was sharing a special homemade gin concoction with the couple. Video of the pair shows that both of them had a positive reaction to the drink. Apparently done in an effort to make people happy, as they mingled with the crowd, many royal watchers were stunned that they had taken such a risk. 

She didn't wear a tiara to King Charles III's Coronation

Royal watchers excitedly anticipated what the Princess of Wales would wear to her father-in-law's coronation, and she did not disappoint. Recognized as a fashion icon worldwide, it came as no surprise that she arrived at the momentous event in bespoke Alexander McQueen. She paired her one-of-a-kind gown, made of an ivory silk crepe, with an item that quickly became the talk of the day — a showstopping headpiece that Kate wore in favor of a traditional tiara. The headpiece, which was silver in color and featured leaves made of crystals, sequins, and metallic beading, may have been a nod to the headpieces that were worn by Queen Elizabeth's maids on the day of her own coronation in 1953. "If they did take inspiration from those ornaments, it was a nice way to give Kate something that stood out visually while still reinforcing her current role as a supporter of the King and Queen," said royal blogger, Lauren Kiehna (per People). 

Though it was a break with tradition, the general consensus was quite positive. A decidedly modern choice, Town and Country suggested that it was done in an effort to match the low-key vibe of the ceremony, which was a scaled-down version of what it might have been. The stunning creation was the result of a collaboration between London-based milliner Jess Collett and Alexander McQueen. Princess Charlotte also wowed in a smaller version of the stunning headpiece.  

She chose a bold nail color

When it comes to royal manicures, there are competing theories. On one hand (so to speak), palace insiders say that natural nails are the only acceptable option when it comes to royal fingers. They report that fake nails or colorful polish are considered vulgar, and to that end, the queen herself was never seen in anything other than a shade called Ballet Slippers for the entirety of her reign. According to the queen's hairdresser, the pale pink color, manufactured by Essie, was "the only colour Her Majesty would wear" (per OK).

On the other hand, historian and royal blogger Marlene Koenig told Town and Country "There are no books, no rules, about what color nail polish a royal can wear." Princess Catherine was probably aware that there were no official rules regarding manicures when she stepped out for Easter Sunday church service wearing (gasp!) a deep shade of red on her fingernails that beautifully complemented her royal blue ensemble. Previously seen with crimson toenails on occasion, she wore primarily nude or pale shades on her fingernails before receiving her new royal titles. While some embraced the princess' flair, others were not amused. It even sent some members of the (then) Twittersphere into a rage. "Too bad the whole photo op is ruined by Kate's brazen red nail polish. It's not protocol and Kate Middleton has shamed the entire family. Shocking," is how one user characterized it according to the New York Post.

She once broke protocol with Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise has had several encounters with the Royal Family over the years, which undoubtedly means that he's been briefed on what is considered acceptable behavior when it comes to touching them. There is a general perception that any physical contact is forbidden, and in fact (according to Hello), it was well-known that Queen Elizabeth's hand was only to be taken if she offered it. Cut to Cruise boldly offering his hand to Kate Middleton as they approached a set of stairs leading into the screening of "Top Gun: Maverick." Rather than rebuff the seemingly innocent gesture, however, she graciously allowed him to assist her before quickly switching her clutch into that same hand — presumably so it wouldn't happen again. 

Like all royal interactions, this one did not go unnoticed, and people were quick to weigh in on all sides. Some were appalled at Cruise's perceived gaffe, while others thought he was merely being gallant. Many applauded the princess' stealth move and interpreted it as a silent message for Cruise to refrain from further contact. Predictably, there is some confusion about this rule as well, but Yahoo's Royal Executive Editor Omid Scobie says it's not written in stone. "There are no official rules when it comes to touching a member of the Royal Family," he stated, pointing out that having the princess trip would have been far worse. He says simple common sense should be used when in the presence of the royals. 

She sent her children to different schools

Princess Catherine continues to forge her own path when it comes to parenting by breaking with yet another tradition, and this one involves her children's schooling. Whereas Prince William and his brother Prince Harry attended all-boys institutions as youths, the couple's children were recently enrolled in a co-educational school so all three could attend together. Lambrook Prep School, which is located in the Berkshire countryside and has existed since 1860, provides the royal children with much-desired privacy. The school prohibits paparazzi from infringing on the family's travels to and from the campus, which allows the Waleses to drop off and pick up the children unhindered by the press. That said, his classmates, who reportedly refer to George as "PG" for "Prince George," are clearly aware that they are in the presence of royalty.

A source told ET, "The Prince and Princess of Wales though have done everything they can to insulate their children from the pressures of their future so they can enjoy a normal childhood." The Lambrook School website boasts superior academics, beautiful facilities, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports, including field hockey, which Princess Catherine herself played when she was a student. "We give our pupils the feathers to fly," promises the website, and that seems likely given the campus' indoor pool, a golf course, art and dance studio, and an orchard with chickens, bees, and pigs.

She gave William a pat on the behind

In perhaps one of her "cheekiest" moves to date, the Princess of Wales playfully tapped on her husband's rear end as they walked the red carpet at the BAFTA Awards. Princess Catherine's gesture went largely unnoticed — likely because she was wearing black evening gloves, which were hard to distinguish against Prince William's black tuxedo pants. Blink and you would have missed it, but Vogue caught the move on tape and posted it to their TikTok account. 

Judi James, a body language expert, weighed in with The Sun to share her thoughts on what the flirty love tap may have been signaling. After pointing out that the couple has been notably more relaxed about PDA since receiving their new titles, she surmised that the stealthy swipe may have been a playful reprimand for him failing to take her hand. She said that it may also have been a subtle message intended for her brother-in-law Harry, who spoke about the pressure of royal men to marry someone out of a sense of duty rather than for true love. "William and Kate's tactile, playful behaviors could be an answer to Harry with his comments about coolness and royal men marrying women who 'fit into the mould,'" said James. Regardless of the reason, the couple was clearly enjoying each other's company as they made their way to their seats.

She hugged a former teacher when she spotted him in the crowd

Princess Catherine had no idea that she would be reunited with a beloved school teacher after more than two decades when she arrived at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall to learn about the area's maritime history. Upon her and Prince William's arrival there, she immediately recognized her history teacher in the crowd that had gathered in front to greet them. Quickly throwing protocol to the wayside, she ran to give Jim Embury a big hug. "Oh my goodness! My gosh, that's taken me right back," she exclaimed before the two took a moment to catch up (per Daily Mail). Embury, who in his retirement serves as a part-time volunteer at the museum, decided to show up there on his day off when the chance to meet up with his former student presented itself. 

The instructor, who had relocated to the area, remembered his pupil fondly and characterized her as a fantastic student during her time at St. Andrews Prep School. Though he admitted that he doesn't follow the Royal Family, he shared his pleasure at meeting up with her after so long. "It was an incredible meeting and the first time I had seen Kate in 25 years. She hasn't changed, not one bit, and is just like she was — conscientious, considerate, and exuberant." 

She followed in her late mother-in-law's footsteps — literally

Princess Catherine is well known for her athletic abilities and was even once dubbed the "sportiest royal" by none other than Vogue magazine. The senior royal, who was the captain of her field hockey team as a teenager, has participated in several sporting events over the years. She's been photographed playing cricket, volleyball, and tennis to name just a few, so when it came to representing her kids at their school's sports day, she couldn't resist the competition. During an interview on "The Good, The Bad & The Rugby" podcast, hosted by Prince William's cousin-in-law Mike Tindall, the princess revealed that she had run in a parents' race at the Lambrook School. 

She recalled what led up to the race. "We were told categorically there was no parents' race," said the princess (per The Sun). "But then they called a last-minute parents' race, and me with the competitive side, both of us were like ... we have to take part. So I had to do it in bare feet." The story was sweetly reminiscent of the several times that her late mother-in-law had done the same at her sons' school, Wetherby Prep. Per Newsweek, Princess Diana competed every year from 1988 to 1991 and came in first, second, third, and fourth respectively. Diana also ran her races in bare feet.