9 royal tour rules the royal family has to follow

As much as it might look like it, those royal tours aren’t a holiday.


We love a good royal tour, and much to our delight, they occur quite frequently these days. With so many senior members of the royal family working full time, it means overseas visits are coming in thick and fast.

In the past year alone, we’ve seen Prince Harry and Meghan Markle travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Morocco and Southern Africa. In the past few years, Prince William and Kate Middleton have visited Australia, Canada and Scandinavia together – and they’re currently on a five-day tour of Pakistan.

The royal tours look incredible; a chance to visit far-flung countries, learning about different cultures and raising awareness about important issues. But, unsurprisingly there are plenty of traditions and regulations the royal family has to follow when undertaking trips like these. Here are just some of the rules they have to follow:

1. They should fly with British Airways if they can

Being the British Royal Family, it follows that members try to fly with British Airways on overseas tours when flying commercial. It’s always nice to support your own, after all. Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and their baby son Archie recently flew to South Africa with British Airways. For their current trip to Pakistan, however, Prince William and Kate Middleton were flown on the British Government’s official RAF Voyager plane for security reasons.

2. They always pack a spare black outfit

When anyone in the royal family travels to another country, they are required to take a black outfit with them for a very morbid reason: in case a member of the family back home dies while they are abroad.

The compulsory rule was established in 1952 when Queen Elizabeth was in Kenya with Prince Philip. While she was there, the then-Princess heard the news that her father, King George, had died – but she didn’t have a black dress with her to arrive home in. The Queen had to wait for a dress to be delivered before disembarking the plane, so now members of the royal family always come prepared to ensure they could properly pay their respects if anything were to happen during their trip.

3. They have to learn the basics of their host country’s language

On these tours, members of the royal family act as representatives for the monarchy as a whole, and for the United Kingdom. So basically, they need to impress. royal learn the basic greetings in each country’s native language before they visit. Etiquette expert Myka Meier told Reader’s Digest: The internal palace aids will always be on hand to prepare each royal before an important visit. It is the correct protocol to practice the etiquette of the country or culture you are visiting, in order to show respect, so each royal knows how to make the best first impression.’

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Today, The Duke of Sussex continued on the #RoyalVisitMalawi visiting Mauwa Health Centre to find out more about the services and needs of people in the community. And The Duchess of Sussex visited the University in Johannesburg in her official role as Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). At the clinic in Malawi The Duke found out about how the clinic serves 23,000 residents and includes treatment of illnesses, vaccinations and pregnancy care. His Royal Highness saw a Pharmacy-in-a-Box installation to find out how the unit works and its importance to the specific health care challenges of the area. Today, The Duchess joined a number of academics and students gathered for a roundtable discussion at the University of Johannesburg. The ACU brings together universities from around the world in championing higher education and The Queen held the role as Patron for 33 years until January of this year. Her Royal Highness also joined a discussion about gender-based violence where Her Royal Highness found out about the nature of violence against women and girls, and how the charity ActionAid is working to combat it. Follow @sussexroyal for more.

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4. Their clothes must be carefully selected to respect different cultures

The intention of overseas visits is to strengthen and maintain ties with foreign nations – particularly the ones for which the Queen is Head of State. Therefore, it’s commonplace for royals to make concerted efforts to honour and respect the cultures of these varied countries when they visit.

Writing for Town & Country, royal family biographer Marcia Moody explained: ‘Adhering to dress codes means that for some countries hemlines, sleeve-lengths, and necklines need to be considered.

‘Men may need tie pins, medals, sashes, and handkerchiefs. Women often pay respect to the country with a national flower or symbol incorporated into their clothing. Symbolic colours are chosen, significant jewellery decided upon.’

5. They have to get changed at the last minute on the plane

During overseas tours, the royal family tries to fit as much into their schedule as possible and maximise photo opportunities. That’s why you often see a lot of pictures of royals disembarking the plane following their arrival to a new place. But for this to work, they have to follow a strict rule regarding getting dressed.

‘Last-minute briefings are given on the plane, and the royals will change out of travelling clothes into their outfits at the last minute to avoid wrinkling or spills,’ revealed royal expert Marcia Moody.

6. The most senior royals travel with bags of their own blood type

The top tier of the monarchy is precious cargo, which is why extra precautions always need to be taken when they travel abroad. A doctor always travels with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles when they embark on royal tours, and according to the Telegraph, they’re also required to bring bags of blood (making sure it’s the right blood type, of course) to countries where blood supply may not be sufficient.

7. They travel with a whole entourage

Understandably, members of the royal family don’t travel solo on royal tours; they take an immense amount of planning and require a number of staff to attend to ensure everything goes smoothly. On their royal tour of Pakistan, Kate Middleton and Prince William are reportedly travelling with a 14-strong entourage, including private secretaries, communications secretaries, a hairdresser and a doctor. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle travelled with a similar number on their tours to Australia and South Africa.

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Today, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended engagements in South Africa as they continue their #RoyalVisitAfrica. They visited “Waves for Change” – a mental health service which supports young people, a Marine Unit which works to combat poaching and the oldest mosque in South Africa. The Duke and Duchess also attended a Youth Reception at the British High Commission and marked Heritage Day – a celebration of the diversity of cultures in the country. At Monwabisi Beach, TRHs learned about the UK’s Commonwealth Litter Programme which funds research and action to tackle plastic waste. They also found out about the “Surf Mentor” project which supports vulnerable young people in under-resourced communities. The Duke of Sussex, as Captain General of The Royal Marines, visited "Seal Island" with the City of Cape Town Marine Unit (MPU). The Royal Marines provide training to the MPU and The Duke heard more about their work in combatting the poaching of Abalone (sea snail), one of South Africa's illegal wildlife trade concerns. TRHs visited Auwal Mosque where they talked to faith groups and viewed the first known Qu’ran in the country. Finally, at The British High Commissioner’s Residence The Duke and Duchess met young inspirational people and celebrated the UK’s modern partnership with South Africa. Their Royal Highnesses were hosted by the British High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Nigel. Find out more about the Royal Visit to South Africa @sussexroyal ?PA

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8. Families aren’t meant to fly together (but they do anyway)

This is an old rule that has been relaxed in recent years since aviation has become safer. The tradition states that two royal heirs should never be on the same flight together in case of an accident, which could theoretically wipe out several members of the royal family in one go.

It means that, technically, Prince William shouldn’t have flown with Prince George or Princess Charlotte on any of the overseas visits they did together when the children were younger – although we know the rule is no longer abided by.

9. Royal tours never last more than two weeks

You might notice that even if they’re travelling to the other side of the world – and are visiting numerous countries – royal overseas visits never seem to last longer than a fortnight. Which means, according to royal expert Marcia Moody, “they actually don’t really get much free time to themselves.”

Moody wrote in Town & Country thatRoyal tours used to span months, but these days it’s more economical to cover more engagements in less time, so the royals will never be away longer than two weeks.’

Customarily, she adds, they attend around four engagements per day.

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Today, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have embarked on a tour of Southern Africa, where they will visit South Africa, Angola, Botswana and Malawi. In Cape Town, The Duke and Duchess joined "The Justice Desk" workshop. Led by @queensyoungleaders Award winner Jessica Dewhurst, it is an organisation empowering local communities. In a speech The Duke of Sussex said, "We are so incredibly grateful to be able to listen and learn from you about the issues that define your daily lives in these communities. And that’s what this is, a community. The Duchess of Sussex gave a speech saying; "You have welcomed us into this community, have been open and honest with us, both about the dangers women and children face, and about how you are addressing them. TRH’s also visited “The District Six Museum", built in an area which in 1966 was declared “whites-only” and saw over 60,000 residents from different races and communities forcibly removed and relocated. The District Six Homecoming Centre was built to provide former residents with a meeting place to share memories and cook together. Members of The Royal Family have a long association with Africa and South Africa. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Cape Town in 1995 & the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited in 2011. The Duke of Cambridge & The Duke of Sussex have also visited previously. Follow @sussexroyal and #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica for more.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan UK

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