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10 Royal Etiquette Rules Everybody Should Follow

If you really want to act like a royal follow these rules.

royal family london

Dress appropriately

You don’t need to sport designer clothes to act like a royal. According to Emilie Dulles, who has more than 29 years of experience in traditional etiquette, you should take a tip from the royal family and simply dress for the job you want, not the job you have. “It would behoove our society to rise up to the occasion and dress more appropriately for work settings and also social outings,” Dulles says. So keep your workout clothes for the gym and your sneakers as well. Although most people live in a more casual world, dressing appropriately for special occasions and events is important because it shows respect for ourselves and others, according to Bonnie Tsai, the founder, and director of Beyond Etiquette. The Queen and her family all follow these specific royal family dress codes, too.

kate middleton and meghan markle
Mark Greenwood/IPS/Shutterstock

Cover up cleavage

When Princess Diana exited a vehicle, she used her purse to cover her cleavage from the paparazzi. Average people don’t have to worry about an embarrassing paparazzi photo op, but it’s still a good idea to sport higher necklines in work and social settings. “Keeping one’s cleavage in check and covered is a sure sign of lady-like behavior,” Dulles says. That’s why it’s one of the royal family etiquette rules they are required to follow.

queen elizabeth and kate middleton
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Sit like a royal

You won’t see royal ladies crossing their legs at the knee. Instead, they typically cross at the ankle to form “the duchess slant.” Other nicknames include the Sussex Slant, Cambridge Cross, and the Spencer Slant, but this position always requires keeping your knees and ankles together, according to Tsai. “It not only prevents any mishaps from happening, but it also helps elongate your legs,” Tsai says. If you want to shoot for the stars and totally mimic the royals, check out the etiquette rules everyone in the royal family must follow.

duchess of cambridge nails
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Opt for neutral nail colors

Bright or dark nail polish colors are fun for parties and weekend events. Dulles suggests doing as the royals do, however, and wearing nude polish in public. “This rule is one that more women should follow as it leaves their hands looking elegant and lets their team focus on the task at hand instead of her hands,” Dulles says. It also helps that nude polish is more forgiving of wear and tear than bright hues. “Nothing says tacky and unkempt like a chipped nail, or worse, ten chipped nails.”

queen elizabeth

Mind your hemlines

Dulles notes that hemlines go up and down with the decades, and although short skirts might literally and figuratively be in Vogue, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to wear everywhere. The Queen prefers knee-length skirts and dresses to the mini variety, but you should choose your hemline based on how comfortable you feel. “Not only will you look your best, but you will also feel great knowing that your clothes will fit your body and be appropriate for work meetings and most social outings,” Dulles says. Work also has something to do with why Kate Middleton and Prince William rarely show PDA.

think before speaking

Think before speaking

There are quite a few words you’ll never hear the royal family say. They always talk so eloquently and with purpose. It’s challenging to do that in everyday small talk, but there is something regular folk can take away from this rule—choose your words wisely. “One’s choice of words used to be directly linked to one’s social class in the United Kingdom,” Dulles says. “Nowadays, I’d say that one’s choice of words is strongly proportional to the amount of class a person has or lacks.”

kate middleton and prince harry
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Hold utensils in the right hands

Americans typically eat with the zig-zag style—cutting and holding down food with either hand and switching to eat. Try doing as the royals do and eating continental style, Tsai suggests. “The next time you’re dining out you can try to elevate your dining style by using the continental dining style which is where utensils never change hands,” she says. “It’ll make you appear more polished since you don’t need to be changing utensils from hand to hand constantly.” This tip especially comes in hand for anyone going to fancy galas or weddings.

meghan and harry at dinner

Leave the table without a fuss

Don’t worry about explaining yourself to others when you need to leave the table. Saying a simple “excuse me” is more than enough, according to Tsai. “People normally can assume that we’re excusing ourselves to go use the restroom,” she says. “You don’t need to share your bathroom details at the dining table or with your fellow diners.”

fold napkins in half

Fold napkins in half

The royal family has a pretty clever hack for keeping your face and clothes clean during a meal. Folding napkins in half with the crease facing you actually allows you to dab, not wipe, your mouth on the inside of the napkin,” Tsai says. Doing this keeps the food stains on the inside of your napkin with the outside clear and presentable.

queen elizabeth hand shake

Shake hands

Your handshake gives a lasting impression, so why not shake like a royal? Here’s how: Maintain eye contact, take their hand firmly but not harshly, and shake for one or two pumps. “If you have a limp handshake, people could assume you’re disinterested, or there’s a lack of confidence,” Tsai says. “If you shake too firmly, people may think you are trying to overcompensate for something.” Keep that in mind for your next meet and greet, but here’s exactly what to do if you meet a member of the royal family.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is a former staff writer at Reader’s Digest. There’s a 90% chance Emily is drinking tea right now, but when she’s not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts and liking one too many astrology memes.