Weird Rules Charles And Camilla Are Forced To Follow

Being a member of the royal family obviously has its perks. Whether it's wearing priceless gems, traveling the world, or simply being part of history as the future monarch and consort, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, live an insanely privileged life. But along with that comes many rules and expectations, ranging from rigid to just downright odd.

While the couple, who married in April 2005, must uphold the standards of the monarchy, that doesn't mean they can't be at least somewhat down to earth, too. Etiquette expert William Hanson commented in the Daily Mail that while Charles and Camilla seem approachable, they retain their royal dignity at the same time. He added that Camilla especially seems like "she wants to laugh or say something she can't but she appreciates her position and role and so resists." We have a feeling there have been some moments when they wanted to break tradition, but let's take a look at some of the weird rules Charles and Camilla have to follow.

Charles and Camilla shouldn't eat shellfish (but sometimes break the rules)

One of the restrictions Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have to follow has to do with food — namely, shellfish and garlic. Why shellfish? Simply because of the increased risk of food poisoning, according to Hello! Magazine. No one wants an upset stomach, but if you're a member of the royal family, getting sick during a public event would be especially horrific. It's been said the Queen isn't a fan of oysters, and neither was Prince Philip. They're difficult and messy to eat — not exactly very royal. 

As for garlic, it's all about the bad breath the food leaves behind. Camilla confirmed the anti-garlic stance at the palace when she appeared on the show "Masterchef Australia" (via the New York Post). Gary Mehigan, one of the judges on the program, asked if there were any foods that the royals couldn't eat, and Camilla replied: "I hate to say this, but garlic. Garlic is a no-no." She clarified that they're always talking and meeting people, so having garlic breath isn't the best of ideas.

Now, does this mean Charles and Camilla totally follow the no garlic or shellfish guidelines? Not necessarily. Take when the royal couple visited the Whitstable Oyster Festival in 2013 and Charles happily downed an oyster (via Hello!). Camilla even helpfully held out a napkin for her husband while he sucked down the fishy goodness. Take that, royal rules.

They shouldn't turn their backs on the queen

Now this one isn't a hard-and-fast rule, per se, but the tradition of not turning your back on the monarch goes all the way back to medieval times (via the Daily Mail). Author Jane Estoe shared a story in her book "Elizabeth: Reigning in Style" (via Yahoo! Lifestyle) about an awkward encounter that resulted from the rule. Milliner Frederick Fox told the author that when he visited Queen Elizabeth II for a hat fitting, palace staffers advised him: "Don't touch the queen, don't ask questions, and don't turn your back." This caused a bit of a comical situation when it was time to leave the room, with the milliner sharing that the queen eventually turned her back on him so he could make a graceful exit without tripping over one of her dogs. 

Whether or not it's common practice with Prince Charles, Camilla, and the rest of the family at home is debatable, but Prince Harry showed a pretty slick way of avoiding a royal back-turn in public while at Royal Ascot in 2018. In a video shared by Yahoo! Lifestyle, he did a little sideways slide when walking away from the queen and spoke to his father standing at an angle so he wouldn't turn his back on his grandmother. 

Charles can't travel on a plane with Prince William without permission

After Queen Elizabeth II passes away, Prince Charles will be king, and next in the line of succession is his son, Prince William. While the father-son duo share many interests, like protecting the environment, one thing they don't often do together is travel on the same airplane (via the Daily Express). The queen needs to give special permission for two heirs to fly together, according to the newspaper, because if there was a crash, the line of succession would be extremely impacted. 

However, Her Majesty has given Prince William and his family permission to fly together, according to BBC News, since it would be impractical for a family with young children to travel on separate flights. A palace source told the BBC that the queen was asked if Prince George could fly on the same plane as William and Kate on their 2013 tour of Australia, and she agreed. "While there is no official rule on this, and royal heirs have traveled together in the past, it is something that the queen has the final say on," the source said. While the Daily Express reported that Charles had broken the rule before when he flew with William and Harry as young children, it's likely that he asked his mother for permission. 

The royals open their gifts on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day

A royal Christmas is different in many ways than the average citizen's, but one difference actually has to do with when they open their presents. Prince Charles, Camilla, and the rest of their family follow the German practice of opening their gifts on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Author Robert Jobson told the Daily Express that the royal family has done this since Victorian times, when Prince Albert, who was German, introduced the tradition. Jobson added that the royals celebrate the holiday at Sandringham House in Norfolk and their Christmas Eve festivities include "putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree and the giving of cheap and humorous gifts."

Another royal tradition is to give silly gag gifts instead of splashing out on expensive baubles (via Marie Claire). Considering she can buy herself anything she wants (she is the queen, after all) Charles doesn't have to stress about what kind of extravagant gift he should buy for his mother. In fact, Prince Harry once famously bought the monarch a shower cap that said "Ain't life a b***h," per Marie Claire. As for Charles, the magazine reported that one year, he received a white leather toilet seat from his sister, Princess Anne. Can we get in on this silly royal gift exchange, too? 

The prince and duchess must pack black outfits for all trips in case someone dies

Packing for an overseas trip can be time-consuming and stressful, but if you're a member of the royal family like Charles and Camilla, there's also a pretty specific packing rule you have to follow — and that involves mourning clothes. When a royal is traveling, they don't want to end up in an unfortunate situation like the current queen did many years ago. When Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI, died in 1952, then-Princess Elizabeth was traveling with Prince Philip on an overseas tour in Africa, per The Sun. Unfortunately, her father passed away while they were on the trip, and the new queen had to wait on the plane for someone to bring her a suitable black mourning outfit, according to the newspaper. 

Today, all members of the family must travel with a suitable black outfit in the untimely event of a death while they're away. This particular rule is one that makes perfect sense given the very public nature of Charles and Camilla's roles — especially as the future monarch and consort. For Camilla to step off a plane in a bright floral dress after the death of the queen, for example, would certainly be looked at as inappropriate. Luckily, they've got plenty of help to ensure their bags are prepped for such a sad event.

They're don't vote or get involved in politics

While the role of a king or queen in history was certainly a leader in the political sense, that has shifted to more of a ceremonial one over the years. In modern times, England's monarch (and in turn, his or her close relations) must remain careful to remain politically neutral — meaning the future king, Prince Charles, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall do, too (via Newsweek). Her Majesty, however, does have regular meetings with the Prime Minister to hear what's going on in the country (via the official royal family website). Newsweek noted that political neutrality is essential for the role because the monarch must give his or her royal assent on bills, meet with representatives from other governments, and perform other ceremonial roles within the government. And while it makes sense that the royals can't get involved in political issues, what you might not know is that they don't vote, either. 

The royal family's website states, "By convention, the queen does not vote or stand for election." And while voting isn't banned for the rest of the family, per se, it's not something they feel comfortable engaging in, with a palace source telling Newsweek that senior royals (such as Charles, Camilla, William and Kate) do not vote. Meghan Markle chimed in on the voting topic during an August 2020 video interview, sharing that her husband, Prince Harry, had never been able to vote (via Harper's Bazaar).

Charles has to bow to his mother and Camilla curtsies

Meeting a member of the royal family comes with some interesting etiquette quandaries. Most people wonder if they need to curtsy, which topics of conversation are off-limits, and how to address the royal. It turns out that for the public, it's not necessary to bow or curtsy to the queen or any of her family members unless you really want to do so (via the official royal family website). But if you're Prince Charles, you actually have to bow to your own mother. Per Woman's World, who the royals need to curtsy or bow to depends on ranking in the royal family. Since the queen is the highest ranking royal, everyone bows or curtsies to her, including the future king and his wife, Camilla.

This bowing and curtsying even occurs behind-the-scenes, as Meghan Markle shared in her 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview (via the Daily Express). Telling a story about meeting the monarch for the first time, Meghan said how she was given a crash course on how to curtsy (by Sarah, the Duchess of York, nonetheless) and was shocked to learn that it wasn't just something the family did at public events. 

The couple can't keep eating if the queen finishes first

Imagine being invited to a royal banquet at Buckingham Palace. You're dining on gourmet food served on the finest crystal and china, wearing your best gown or suit and taking in the incredible surroundings. Then imagine having to waste half of your food because you were too busy talking. Sound bizarre? Another interesting (and fairly outrageous) rule involving food is one we can imagine Prince Charles changing once he becomes king. It sounds like something from a medieval court, but even in today's monarchy, no one eating in the presence of the queen can continue their meals if she's done with hers first (via BBC News). 

Yes, if Charles and Camilla are being too chatty and the queen has sped through her dinner, they need to stop eating, too. At least she's sensitive to the weird rule, "and has been known to reserve a little morsel on her plate to push around in order to let others finish their meals," per BBC News. 

Their marriage had to be approved by the queen

While it's traditional for men to ask their potential wife's parents for their blessing before a proposal, members of the royal family have to take an extra step, and that involves the sign-off of Queen Elizabeth II herself. Yes, Prince Charles had to ask his mother for permission to marry Camilla Parker Bowles back in 2005, per the Royal Marriages Act 1772 (via Hello! Magazine). Once she gave her blessing, the monarch signed an ornate document called an "Instrument of Consent." 

According to the Daily Express, "Permission is crucial for royal marriages, as it ensures that any children born in the marriage are able to take their place in the line of succession." Being in their late fifties, Charles and Camilla clearly weren't worrying about having children together, but at the time of their marriage, all members of the family needed to ask the queen's permission because of the rule. The Royal Marriages Act 1772 was updated in 2013 to only include the six closest heirs to the throne, but even if they'd waited to marry, Charles and Camilla would have still fallen within that group.

Modest attire and hats are part of their royal dress code

When you think about Prince Charles or the Duchess of Cornwall, images of enormous hats or tiaras, suits, and elegant coats probably come to mind. Being a member of the royal family, especially one in line to be the future king, definitely comes with a modest, traditional dress code. Camilla and other royal women follow the tradition of wearing hats for important occasions, such as weddings or Royal Ascot, and Prince Charles and other royal men wear top hats to the race. Etiquette expert Diana Mather told BBC News that while "up until the 1950s ladies were very seldom seen without a hat" because it wasn't appropriate for women to show their hair in public, royal women today mostly save hats for formal events. Bustle noted that wearing a quality hat (which can cost a pretty penny) is a status symbol that makes royals stand out from the rest of the crowd. 

As for attire, looking polished is part of the job. You won't see Charles and Camilla in extremely casual clothes — even when wearing jeans, Camilla typically chooses a collared shirt or tailored blazer, like what she wore for their 2020 Christmas card. As for Charles, the most dressed down you'll find him is in khakis or corduroy trousers. According to BBC News, royal casualwear looks more like the average person's version of business casual — think a blouse or collared shirt with trousers or a casual dress. 

Charles and Camilla don't sign autographs or take selfies (most of the time)

If you're ever lucky enough to meet a member of the royal family, like Prince Charles or the Duchess of Cornwall, don't get nervous. Royals are just like us — well, minus the whole palace thing. Just smile, tell them your name, and shake their hand if offered. But, if you do ever meet a royal, there are two little things you shouldn't do, and that's ask for a selfie or an autograph. Charles and family aren't allowed to sign autographs due to the risk of their names being forged, per the Daily Express. The prince reportedly responds to requests with, "Sorry, they don't allow me to do that," the media outlet reported. However, Charles did once break the rules and signed an autograph for a flood victim in 2010, per the newspaper.

For whatever reason, members of the royal family don't typically take selfies with the public. However, Charles and Camilla have been known to make rare exceptions, and Hello! Magazine captured a range of moments when royals broke the rules, including Camilla posing for an under-an-umbrella selfie. 

They need to follow specific rules for dinner conversations

Dining with the royals comes with a list of formal etiquette rules, but one of the most perplexing ones regards with whom you're actually allowed to talk to, and when. When seated at a royal banquet, there's a strict order in which the queen speaks to her fellow dinner guests, per the Telegraph. The newspaper notes that if a guest is seated to the left of the queen, he or she should only speak to her during the second course, as she would speak to her guest of honor on her right during the first course. The person on her left should turn and speak to the person on their left during the first course. That means if Charles happened to be sitting to his mother's left, he shouldn't expect to speak to her right away. 

Formula 1 racing star Lewis Hamilton was invited to lunch with the queen, and told BBC presenter Graham Norton he was so excited, he made an etiquette faux pas regarding the speaking rule (via the Telegraph). He started to talk to the queen, Hamilton recalled, "but she said, pointing to my left, 'No, you speak that way first and I'll speak this way and then I'll come back to you.'" 

Charles can change his name when he's king

While it would certainly be unusual for the average adult to change his or her first name, Prince Charles is anything but average, and one royal rule actually pertains to his moniker. While the expectation would be that Charles would become King Charles III, according to tradition, he can change his first name once the queen passes away and he becomes king (via the Daily Express). There's a precedent in history that some monarchs have chosen a different name once they became king or queen, such as King Edward VII, whose birth name was Albert, the newspaper noted. 

Charles was born as Charles Philip Arthur George, and could use any of those names, with the Constitution Unit at University College London's School of Public Policy writing, "Instead of becoming King Charles, he might choose to become King George VII, or King Philip, or King Arthur" (via the Daily Express). While it seems unlikely that a man in his seventies would decide to choose a different regnal name, stranger things have happened in the royal world.