If there’s one thing people seemingly can’t get enough of, it’s complicated family dynamics. Just look at the Kardashian-Jenner clan and how popular their reality show has been, as well as the family drama that takes place on reality shows like The Real Housewives franchise. This kind of interpersonal discord is always intriguing to outsiders, so when you add in tiaras and titles, it’s bound to just get more interesting. Enter: the royal family.
The monarchy of Great Britain has been around for centuries, literally. And because of that, there are so many stories and rumors about the royal family flying around that it’s hard to keep track of what’s what. But if you want to know which myths about the royal family you can finally stop believing, then simply keep reading. Because honestly, there’s so much disinformation out there about the royal family, and while some of it is rooted in truth, the majority of all those rumors are false.
Myth: The monarchy is very modern and progressive
If you’ve watched or read any news about the royal family over the past few years then you’ve probably heard a thing or two about how the monarchy is modernizing and progressing pretty quickly. People cite Prince Harry’s marriage to American biracial actor Meghan Markle as proof of this. Well, that along with the fact that the rules of succession to the crown were changed to no longer allow male heirs to take precedence over female heirs older than them, as The Washington Post reported, makes the royal family look pretty cool.
But The Washington Post also reported that that was all just smoke and mirrors for the most part. After all, to watch Harry and Meghan’s infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey was to learn that the royal family allegedly wasn’t all that accepting of her addition to the family — and the fact that the couple formally left and moved to California proves there’s still some tension there. Perhaps the royal family is hesitant to be truly progressive, no matter what it looks like.
Myth: The royals are among the richest people in the world
To look at the royal family, or even just think about them, you’d probably assume that they don’t have to worry about money. And while that’s certainly true, it’s not as lavish over at the palace as you might think. Yes, the royal family is definitely comfortable and has plenty of money, but they are far from the richest people in the world. In fact, they aren’t even the richest people in England.
According to CNN, there are more than 300 British people who are richer than Queen Elizabeth, who’s worth an estimated $470 million. Additionally, the way that the money works in the royal family is pretty complicated. For one, the income that the royal family receives is only 25% of the Crown Estate income, while the rest goes to the British Treasury, according to Forbes. And what money the royal family does receive is only used for official expenditures like travel, security, maintenance, and payroll. So basically, the money that the royals have isn’t all theirs, and it isn’t as much as you’d think.
Myth: The royals have no power
Perhaps one of the biggest myths about the royal family is that they have no real power and are nothing more than symbolic figureheads. And while some members of the royal family don’t have the power that people like presidents or other officials have, that doesn’t mean they’re completely powerless. In fact, the royals can do quite a lot, and though much of their time is spent on charity work or working to raise national morale, there’s more to the job than just looking good and shaking hands.
According to Business Insider, Queen Elizabeth, the highest-ranking member of the royal family, does still have some official power. In addition to opening the Parliamentary session each May, she can also sign off on bills before they become laws, appoint cabinet officials, pardon people accused of crimes, and even command the military. So yes, the royal family isn’t just there to look good and hold meaningless titles, they do have powers and are an important part of Britain.
Myth: Camilla Parker Bowles can never be called ‘queen’
The royal family hasn’t always had an easy time with the public’s view of them. Notably, back when Camilla Parker Bowles first joined the royal family, people were skeptical that she should never be called queen as she was Prince Charles’ second wife. In a statement from Clarence House after their engagement, it became clear that Camilla’s title would be a little complicated. "It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne," the statement read.
Still, Vanity Fair reported that Camilla will actually be known as queen consort once her husband becomes king, which is customary for spouses of kings or queens. Additionally, the rumor that Camilla would never be called "queen" in any way likely started because she and Charles actually had an affair that became public before his marriage to Princess Diana ended, causing the public to be wary of her in general. So no, Camilla won’t never be called a queen — it will just be a different kind of queen.
Myth: Queen Elizabeth drinks a lot
Because Queen Elizabeth has been queen for so long, and seems so healthy for her age, it’s only natural that people would be interested in her daily habits, including what she eats and drinks. Because of that, some rumors got started that the queen drinks a lot more than she actually does, but you can stop believing that little lie.
As Town & Country reported, there were some rumors and speculation that Queen Elizabeth would drink upwards of four drinks per day. And if that sounds like a lot, especially for a woman in her 90s helping to oversee the wellbeing of an entire nation, it definitely is — and it’s also not true. Former royal chef Darren McGrady told CNN that the myth that the queen is a heavy drinker is just that, a myth. "She’d be pickled if she drank that much," he said. "All I said was she likes a gin and Dubonnet. That’s her favorite drink." So, while the queen doesn’t completely abstain from alcohol, she also isn’t a heavy drinker.
Myth: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s children could be royals and U.S. presidents
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made headlines for their decision to leave the royal family and move to California. But perhaps the most outrageous rumor that followed them across the pond was that their children could be royals and U.S. presidents. A viral post stating that Harry and Meghan’s children could run for president one day sparked quite a bit of controversy, but it really didn’t need to. "So. Harry and Megan’s children are eligible to be POTUS. Way to play the long game, George III," the post read.
But that’s a bit of an exaggeration. "Children born of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in the United States would be citizens and would be eligible to run for president when they are old enough, but they would have to win this in an election rather than inherit the office," political science professor John R. Vile told USA Today. And since Archie wasn’t given a title, he’s not a prince (for now, as noted by Harper’s Bazaar). So, even if Archie did decide to run for president one day, he couldn’t be a Prince at the same time.
Myth: The Union Jack flying means the queen is home
Because the royal family, and especially Queen Elizabeth, are so well-known and frankly, famous, it’s only natural for people to want to meet her. And one thing people visiting or residing in London want to know is whether or not the queen is home so they might spot her. But while there’s one way to tell, it isn’t what you think.
According to Londonist, the Union Jack flag flying above Buckingham Palace doesn’t mean what you probably think it means. For whatever reason, there’s a myth that the flag flying at the palace means that the queen is home, and you might just be lucky enough to see her. But that myth isn’t true at all — in fact, it’s the exact opposite. When the Union Flag is raised above the palace, it means the Queen isn’t home. However, when another flag, the Royal Standard, is flying above Buckingham Palace, it does mean that the queen (or in the future, the king) is home. So, if you’re ever in London and want to know whether or not the queen is home, know the difference between the Union Jack and the Royal Standard flag.
Myth: Prince George and Prince Louis can never wear trousers
Even if you aren’t a huge fan or follower of the royal family, you’ve probably seen some photos of its youngest members, and there’s no denying the fact that they’re all seriously adorable. While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son Archie’s future in the royal family is uncertain, Prince Willian and Kate Middleton’s three children will likely remain in the family. So, is that why their sons only wear shorts in public? Well, that’s kind of a myth.
Etiquette expert William Hanson told Harper’s Bazaar that there is a reason why you’ll never really see Prince George or Prince Louis wearing long pants. "Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England," Hanson explained. However, Hanson also added that "times are (slowly) changing," so the two young princes could definitely wear pants at some point. Again, it’s a tradition for young boys to only wear shorts, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.
Myth: Prince Charles will never be king
Because Prince Charles reportedly isn’t exactly the most adored member of the royal family, many rumors have swirled that he wouldn’t become king after Queen Elizabeth dies. Between the public’s apparent less-than-stellar opinion of Charles and his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, in addition to fans’ preference for Prince William and Kate Middleton, it’s no wonder there’s a myth that Charles won’t become King and the title will go straight to his son.
However, that would never happen; as long as Charles is alive, he’s the next in line to the throne. Additionally, Queen Elizabeth herself couldn’t even change who becomes the next king, as it’s against "the 1701 Act of Settlement, which requires that a monarch’s heir must be a direct successor and a Protestant," according to Reader’s Digest. Additionally, Charles has made it clear that he’s ready to become King, a title he’s been preparing to assume for decades. So, while William will likely become king eventually, he won’t skip over his father in the line of succession.
Myth: Royal women must cover their legs at all times
Though the royal family might work hard to be with the times and appear modern, there are still some ways in which the royals appear a little dated. For instance, the dress code that’s seemingly law within the royal family doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for fun or revealing outfits. Specifically, because of Kate Middleton’s modest fashion sense, there’s been a myth that royal women must always wear pantyhose, and so when Meghan Markle went without one time, people freaked out.
But they really shouldn’t have. Royal expert Marlene Koenig told Harper’s Bazaar that Meghan wasn’t breaking any rules when she skipped the pantyhose. "There are no rules for royal women regarding pantyhose," Koenig revealed. "While most women (royal or commoner) wear pantyhose with suits or gowns for a good slim line, it is not required by any decree from the queen." So, while some royal women may simply prefer tights or pantyhose to cover their legs at all time, it isn’t an actual rule.
Myth: The royals will always have money no matter what
For many people, the idea of being born into the royal family seems like a true fairytale. After all, you don’t have to work a normal job, you never have to worry about money, and you get to dress up in fancy clothes and jewels and mingle with dignitaries and celebrities. But all the glitz and glam aside, there are some downsides to being in the royal family, and one of those Prince Harry had to learn the hard way. Believe it or not, but the royals won’t always have money, especially if they decide to step down from their roles.
During Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, the youngest son of Princess Diana revealed he’d had some money worries when he and his wife left England. "My family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford security for us," he confessed (via Us Weekly). "[I was cut off] in the first quarter of 2020. But I’ve got what my mom left me and without that, we would not have been able to do this." Fortunately they were okay, but it goes to show that being royal doesn’t guarantee wealth.
Myth: People aren’t allowed to touch the royal family
Because the royal family is so important in England, many people regard them as almost not human. In fact, there’s a myth that people aren’t allowed to touch the royal family because they’re so special — but that’s simply not true. In 2014, when LeBron James put his arm around Kate Middleton, there was a bit of an uproar. Etiquette expert William Hanson told the Daily Mail as much. "Mr. James should not have put his arm around [Kate]," he said. "Americans are much more tactile than we Brits and this is another example of an American being too touchy feely with British royalty. You’d have thought they’d have learned by now."
However, as The Atlantic noted, there’s no real rule about touching the royals, or the royals touching non-royals. In fact, Buckingham Palace even noted that "the queen would have taken no offense," had someone touched her while out in public. So really, the royal family isn’t that different from other celebrities. If they’re comfortable shaking your hand or even giving a hug, you’re not going to get arrested for accepting the gesture.