Weird Rules Prince Harry Had To Follow As A Royal

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down as senior members of the royal family back in early 2020, and we are no less fascinated by the couple today as we were while they were working Windsors. After a barrage of issues pushed Harry and Meghan to the brink and left them feeling as if they had no choice but to relinquish their royal status, the couple moved to Meghan's home state of California and started a new life as regular ol' citizens ("regular" being used very loosely here).

But like we said, we're still intrigued by the couple, perhaps more so than before, and it's for quite a few reasons. A royal couple of their status hasn't left the monarchy in modern times, so their exit is unprecedented. They also chose to relocate to the United States, giving Americans even more access to the details of their lives than before. But the most interesting part of Megxit is comparing the life they lived before to the one they're living now, particularly Harry's former life. Harry grew up as a literal prince in the most powerful monarchy in the world, and as such, his upbringing was vastly different from everyone else's on the planet, namely in the rules he had to follow. Some of them made sense, but others were just plain bizarre. Here are the weirdest ones he had to follow as a royal.

Prince Harry had to ask his grandma for permission to get married

It's a longstanding Western tradition for the man to ask the woman's father for permission to propose. Prince Harry, however, had to ask someone else if it was permissible for him to get married: his paternal grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. The former senior member of the British royal family opened up in his 2023 memoir, "Spare," about the steps he had to take before being able to marry Meghan Markle, and a major hoop included getting a thumbs-up from his late grandmother. Prince Harry recalled in the book that he found the step a bit ridiculous, noting that he hadn't heard anything about Prince William asking for approval from Queen Elizabeth in order to marry Princess Catherine. (Harry did, however, was made aware of King Charles III having to ask his mother for permission to get remarried.)

Harry went on to write about the conversation he had with his grandmother about his wish to marry Meghan. According to the prince, after Elizabeth implied she was not aware of this "rule," he told her that both her team and his team led him to believe he needed her permission first. "I stared at her face but it was unreadable," he continued (via People). "At last she replied, 'Well, then, I suppose I have to say yes.'" The royal family announced the couple's engagement in November 2017, and Harry and Meghan got married in May 2018.

He had to go behind his niece and nephews in the line of succession

No matter how deeply steeped in tradition your family is, it's nothing compared to the Windsors. The British royal family takes their traditions very seriously, and that dates back centuries. Since 1701, the British monarchy has followed a particular succession, and no exceptions were made for Prince Harry (though some changes have since been made to the statute that determines the line of succession). Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) for him, that meant being cut in line by his niece and nephew. As it stands, the current monarch's firstborn child is the next in line to take the throne, and the rest of the current monarch's children follow. However, if the current monarch's firstborn has children, those children follow their parent in line. Because of this rule, when Prince William had children, they went ahead of Prince Harry in the line of succession.

Prince Harry doesn't seem to mind being fifth in line to the throne (and yes, he could still technically become king). As he said in his memoir "Spare" of his first nephew's birth (via Newsweek), "I was delighted for Willy and Kate, and I was indifferent to my place in the order of succession. ... I'd once heard a courtier say that, when you were fifth or sixth in line you were 'only a plane crash away.' I couldn't imagine living that way."

He maybe wasn't allowed to play Monopoly

Every family has its quirks, including the British royal family. According to legend, Prince Harry, as well as the other members of his family, were banned from playing the popular board game Monopoly. The world learned of this supposed rule back in 2008 when Prince Andrew was visiting a new building in Leeds. As reported by The Telegraph, after he was given the game during his visit, he said, "We're not allowed to play Monopoly at home. It gets too vicious." Now, as Snopes has pointed out, this could very well have been a tongue-in-cheek joke. Either way, Prince Harry has not shared publicly whether he has taken up the game since moving to the United States. (If Andrew really was not being facetious, Harry's got a lot of passing "Go" to make up for.)

There were plenty of other games the royal family was allowed to play while Prince Harry was a senior member. The queen loved, for example, to play games on a Nintendo Wii. "When she saw William playing a game after lunch at Sandringham she thought the Nintendo looked tremendous fun and begged to join in," a source told the Mirror. "She played a simple ten-pin bowling game and by all accounts was a natural," the source added, noting that the queen had become a bit of a Nintendo hog after her discovery of the game. Charades, Risk, the name game, and polo were also reportedly among the games enjoyed by the royal family.

Prince Harry he had to follow strict protocol when receiving gifts

When most of us are given a gift, we accept it and say thank you. Perhaps we follow up with a hug or by gushing about how much we love it. We may send a thank you note. Sometimes we might clandestinely regift it. But that's about it. For royals, being given a gift is a much bigger to-do. When Prince Harry was a senior member of the royal family, he wasn't allowed to simply receive a gift — he had to go through a whole rigamarole to determine whether it was appropriate for him to keep whatever he was given.

First things first, Prince Harry had to determine whether the gift was an official gift or a personal gift. A gift is considered official if it is given by another head of state, a business, or an individual that the royal family does not know. Those gifts must stay within the royal family in some capacity, whether to be used personally, stored, or displayed. A gift is considered personal if it is given to a member of the royal family by someone they know personally, like a friend or in-law. Royal family members can be given personal gifts by dignitaries, but their value must not exceed £150, otherwise it's considered official. "Rules on not accepting gifts, and disclosing any that are accepted, are there ... to protect the reputation of the UK," Spotlight on Corruption director Susan Hawley told The Guardian.

He had to pack an all-black outfit with him wherever he went

Seemingly one of the most important values in the British royal family is decorum. From the time they're young, the Windsors are taught strict manners and how to behave in a certain way, which extends to their grief habits. When Prince Harry was a senior member of the royal family, he was to follow a rule concerning impending death, along with the rest of his family. Any time a British royal travels, they must pack with them an all-black outfit. The Windsors are supposed to wear all-black while in mourning, and because someone can die suddenly and unexpectedly, the family wants to ensure they always have the appropriate habiliments in tow.

This rule hasn't always been in effect. Back in 1952, when George VI died, Queen Elizabeth II was in Kenya. The royal didn't have an all-black outfit with her, so she was left to wear home the clothes she had packed, which weren't considered appropriate to wear during mourning. When her plane landed in the U.K., a royal employee brought an appropriate dress on board, and Queen Elizabeth changed before she was seen by onlookers. What the royal family saw as a faux pas apparently inspired them all to live by a morbid rule of thumb and be prepared for a loved one's death at any moment.

He couldn't wear black whenever he wanted

Although Prince Harry was expected to pack an all-black outfit wherever he went, he wasn't allowed to wear it whenever he wanted. While the men seem to have more leniency with this rule (Prince William has been seen in all-black ensembles in the past), the royal family is supposed to reserve wearing all-black outfits for times of grief, meaning the color is not supposed to be worn in entirety for just any occasion. "Generally it is thought that black is not usually worn unless in mourning, although Diana Princess of Wales did occasionally wear it for evening functions, and The Duchess of Cambridge has been known to do so," The English Manner Chief Executive Alexandra Messervy said to InStyle, as reported by Marie Claire.

Even Prince Harry leaving his post as a senior member of the royal family hasn't stopped the Windsors from dictating what he wears to certain events. In 2023, when Prince Harry returned to England for his father's coronation, he wore a suit with his military medals rather than his military uniform. The royal was reportedly not allowed to wear his uniform, presumably because he is no longer a senior royal. Prince Harry was also forbidden from wearing his military uniform to his grandmother's funeral in 2022.

He couldn't open or shut his car door on his own

Being royal ostensibly seems great — every little detail of your life is taken care of for you. But in reality, it might not be quite as glamorous as we imagine. There are small, everyday tasks that royals aren't allowed to do, albeit often for security reasons. One such task (if it can even be considered a task) is opening and closing a car door. Per etiquette expert William Hanson to BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, "Usually, if you are a member of the royal family or a dignitary, you have a member of staff to open and close a car door for you." When Prince Harry was a senior member of the royal family, he, like his other royal family members, wasn't allowed to open and shut car doors on his own.

Since stepping down as a senior royal, Prince Harry has exercised many of his newfound freedoms, including opening and shutting a car door on his own. While he was back in England in September 2022 with Meghan Markle for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral, before getting into a car himself, Prince Harry opened and closed the car door for Meghan, eschewing the security protocol in favor of politeness. Prince William and Princess Catherine did not follow the security protocol, either: Both senior members of the royal family opened and closed their own car doors, too.

He had to weigh in before and after Christmas dinner

It's been said that adults gain as much as five pounds around the holiday season. Studies have debunked that myth, but apparently the British royal family isn't up to date on that research. That, or they still insist on engaging in a strange tradition. Since the 1900s, the Windsors have reportedly started and ended each Christmas meal, served at Sandringham, with a weigh-in. As royal expert Ingrid Seward explained to Grazia, the tradition, which Prince Harry had to partake in while he was a senior member of the royal family, is not intended to embarrass anyone but rather to serve as evidence of whether each guest got enough to eat.

It's said to have been a while since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have had to weigh in at Christmas dinner. The couple stepped down as working members of the royal family in 2020, and while they were still seemingly on good enough terms with the Windsors to spend the holidays in England, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect, and travel restrictions reportedly kept them from making it back to Harry's home for Christmas. In 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan reportedly didn't return to England to celebrate Christmas with the royal family, nor did they in 2022 in the wake of the release of their Netflix documentary, "Harry & Meghan." The couple hasn't been photographed spending Christmas at Sandringham since 2019.

Prince Harry couldn't eat shellfish

The royal family is known for being rather restrictive when it comes to food. There are a variety of consumables Prince Harry wasn't allowed to have while he was a senior member of the royal family, including certain sea creatures. "When dining, the Royal Family has to be careful with shellfish due to shellfish poisoning, due to their work schedules. Therefore you will not normally find this on the royal menu," former royal butler Grant Harrold said to about the royal family's diet. Still, being told he couldn't eat shellfish didn't stop Prince Harry from engaging with the food when he was a working member of the royal family. Back in 2015, while visiting New Zealand, Prince Harry was spotted shucking oysters. No word on whether the royal ate any.

Shellfish weren't the only foods Prince Harry was supposed to avoid while he was a senior royal. He reportedly couldn't have foie gras, nor could he have rare meat while traveling. It doesn't seem like staying away from any of those off-limits foods was a sacrifice for Prince Harry, though. He shared in his memoir, "Spare," some of his favorite foods, and none of them included shellfish or duck liver. Among Prince Harry's favorite foods, as reported in Tapas Magazine, were roast chicken, bread pudding, pasta, and red wine.

He couldn't make noise with his silverware

Did we mention that the royal family takes manners seriously? The Windsors host and attend more dinner parties in a year than most people do in their life (we don't have a definite statistic on that, but we're willing to bet it's true), and therefore they make sure to follow all sorts of etiquette, specifically when eating, and even more specifically when handling silverware. When Prince Harry was a senior member of the royal family, he was expected to hold his silverware in the appropriate hands and use it silently. "It is not a breach of protocol to make noise with the cutlery on the plate. If it happens once or twice by accident, no issue, but to continue to do so is especially unfortunate," etiquette expert William Hanson told Marie Claire. Prince Harry might not have been punished for making noise with his silverware, but he probably would've gotten some epic side eye from one of his relatives.

The silverware rules didn't end there for Prince Harry. In addition to keeping his knife and fork in the correct hands, Prince Harry had to place it on his plate properly after he was finished eating to signify that he was done with his meal. "The cutlery is placed together in such a finished position to alert the staff (and other diners) that you have finished so they can clear your plate without having to ask whether you are finished or not," Hanson said. When it comes to etiquette, the British royal family really dishes it up.