25 Strict Marriage Rules That the Royal Family Has to Follow

Living the life of a royal isn’t necessarily a rosy walk where one gets to do whatever one pleases. There are rules to this thing. When it comes to stuff like marriage, it can get very involved.

You may or may not have noticed, but Britain’s royal family has many traditions in place that have existed for centuries. Although things have loosened up in the past few decades, some things don’t change.

With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love affair the topic of the season, people are wondering about which royal customs will be upheld for their nuptials. From the engagement to the wedding and everything that happens in between, we’re highlighting some of these protocols and practices that are influencing Meghan and the prince’s union. Rules are rules.

  1. Queen’s Blessing is Required

    Permission must be granted by the Queen in order for a royal family member to propose. It’s in writing with The Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

  2. Formal Engagement Announcement

    All royal engagements get the royal treatment with a formal announcement to the public and press.

  3. Engagement Interview

    This is fairly recent, but following the official announcement of a royal engagement, an interview with the couple takes place for the press.

  4. Bride Must Wear White

    Queen Victoria started this tradition in England in 1840.

  5. Catholic Marriages are Not Allowed

    According to the 1701 Act of Settlement, royals are banned from marrying Catholics. The royals head the Church of England, which is Protestant. It’s speculated that Meghan Markle will be baptized into the Protestant faith before her marriage.

  6. Invites Come from the Queen

    Wedding invitations are sent out by the Queen herself on behalf of members of the royal family. Almost 2,000 were delivered for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

  7. Wedding Ceremony Seating is Right

    The royal family is always seated on the right side of the church unless the groom is not a royal.

  8. Female Guest Attire

    Women attending the wedding must wear dress hats.

  9. Each Bridal Bouquet Has a Special Touch

    Myrtle is known as the flower of love and marriage, and has been included in royal bouquets since 1858, when Queen Victoria’s own daughter Victoria wed. Each royal bride carries a sprig cut from the same bush.

  10. The Bouquet is Not Tossed

    After the wedding, the bride lays her bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, a tradition started by the Queen Mother when she married King George VI.

  11. No Groomsmen

    Instead, the groom has pageboys— children of family or friends. They typically walk down the aisle and carry the wedding rings. They sometimes help to carry the bride’s train. Look out for Prince George in his uncle’s wedding.

  12. But the Groom Gets Support

    Royal bridegrooms typically have supporters and no best man. Prince Charles had two of his brothers serve as his supporters. Prince William bucked tradition a bit and had Prince Harry as his best man. Prince Harry is expected to do the same with his brother.

  13. Bridesmaids are Children

    In America, we’re used to seeing women proceed down the aisle before the bride. With royal weddings, a group of girls between the ages of 5 and 17 accompany the bride down the aisle.

  14. Bridal Tiara

    As is tradition with all royal brides, you can count on seeing Meghan Markle wearing a tiara, likely from the family’s jewelry collection.

  15. Carriage Rides

    A horse-drawn coach usually transports the couple from the ceremony venue to the reception. Most couples will also ride in one to the ceremony, but Kate Middleton chose to ride in a car.

  16. A Palace Wave

    The newly wedded couple and other members of the royal family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and wave to the public.

  17. Groom Wears Military Regalia

    Since it’s customary for male members of the royal family to serve in the military, it’s also customary for them to wear their formal uniforms for the ceremony.

  18. Bands of Welsh Gold

    A tradition that began with the Queen Mother in the 1920s, newlyweds received wedding bands made of Welsh gold that’s sourced from the same nugget. It’s so rare that its price fetches more than gold from South Africa or Russia.

  19. The Cake Flavor is Standard

    And in Britain, that means fruit cake. Dried fruits infused with brandy are the ingredients in this traditional wedding cake.

  20. Two Cakes

    In addition to the fruitcake as a celebration dessert, there’s also a second cake that’s typically chosen by the prince. Prince William chose a chocolate biscuit cake, but the chef for Prince Harry’s wedding will probably keep it a secret until the big day.

  21. Weddings are a Daytime Affair

    Weddings are always held early in the day, no later than noon.

  22. Two Receptions

    Immediately following the ceremony, there’s a “wedding breakfast” that’s served for guests, similar to a brunch. There is also an evening reception where dinner and dancing is in order.

  23. Family Photo

    An official wedding photo that includes members of the bridal party and royal family will be taken.

  24. Royal Family Pays the Tab

    In many American families, it’s custom for the bride’s family (or the couple) to pay for wedding expenses. Not the case here, where the royal family takes care of the wedding’s costs.

  25. Mailed Memento

    Guests receive a piece of wedding cake in the mail as a memento and small token of thanks.

What do you think of these royal wedding rules? Are there any “musts” in your family when it comes to marriages?

Marie Claire