Whether you eat Chinese food on Christmas, watch Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day, or put an extra candle on the cake for someone’s birthday, every family has their own unique traditions that they wouldn’t give up for the world. Sure, they may not seem like much, but a holiday gathering or family event wouldn’t feel quite the same without them.

Britain’s Royal Family is no stranger to this kind of tradition, but behind closed doors their storied practices and routines are far more bizarre than anything you could imagine. After reading about the weird and wacky traditions of the world’s most famous family, you’ll never look at Queen Elizabeth quite the same way again!

1. The Frugal Queen: You’d think that Queen Elizabeth would be willing to shell out a few bucks for a decent brand of nail polish. Well, you thought wrong, as Her Highness will only wear “Ballet Slippers” by Essie, which costs a cool $9/bottle.

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2. Mon-arch-opoly: The perfect name for a royal edition of the board game, no? Well, the game wouldn’t be permitted in Kensington Palace, as the Royal Family isn’t allowed to play Monopoly; in the past, rounds of the game had supposedly turned “vicious.” Yikes.

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3. Nothing Fishy Here: Royals are also forbidden from eating seafood, as one bad shrimp is all it takes to completely sideline them from their daily responsibilities. But, as you can see, not every member of the Royal Family takes the rule too seriously…

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4. Heir Scare: No two heirs to the throne are allowed to travel together so the royal bloodline can’t end in a single fatal accident. Prince William has broken this rule several times, however, as he’s been known to travel with his son, Prince George.

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5. Vampires Welcome: Of all the foods the Queen refuses to touch, garlic tops the list. Because she makes so many public appearances, garlic breath is out of the question. That’s why you won’t find any dishes with the pungent herb served in Buckingham.

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6. The Queen Takes Hostages: In the days of bitter tensions between the British government and the crown, the royal house would take an MP hostage to ensure the monarch’s safe return following visits to Parliament. The tradition continues to this day, though the “hostages” are well taken care of.

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7. Don’t Send a Raven: After being warned “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it,” Charles II mandated that at least six ravens live in the tower at all times. Descendants of these birds still call the tower home.

Historic Royal Palaces

8. A Born Actress: The Royal Family would be hard pressed to let a Christmas go by without their annual game of charades. There’s just one rule: never upstage the Queen. If she acts well, you applaud. If she tells a joke, you laugh.

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9. The “Charlotte Effect”: Move over, Prince George — it’s Princess Charlotte that really brings home the bacon. Dubbed the “Charlotte Effect,” the young royal’s birth has generated a staggering $5 billion for the British economy, almost $2 billion more than her elder brother has.

Sky News

10. Well-Dressed & Well-Prepared: Her Highness uses her handbag to give signals to her security team; in the event that she’s looking to get out of a conversation, she’ll typically switch the bag to her other hand.

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11. Famous Flowers: For the Royal Family, no wedding is complete without one very special flower: the myrtle. Since the 1800s, every royal bride has carried a sprig in their bouquet, picked fresh from Queen Victoria’s 170-year-old garden.

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12. Back in Black: Whenever the Royal Family leaves the country, each member is required to pack an all-black outfit in the event that someone close to the crown or country dies while they’re abroad. That’s totally not morbid at all…

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13. Wakey Wakey: If you think the Queen rises every morning to the sound of “Slow Rise,” then you’re sadly mistaken. Her Majesty actually employs a member of the British military to stand beneath her window and play the bagpipes to gently ease her awake.

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14. A Not-So-Slight Prick: When selecting a new High Sheriff for a county, the Queen uses a sewing needle. The practice of “pricking” goes back to Elizabeth I, who would pierce the name of her newest Sheriff while embroidering and usually didn’t have a pen on hand. 

Team High Sheriff

15. The Name Game: Monarchs are still asked what name they’ll choose to take upon ascending the throne. Prince Charles is expected to take the name George VII when he becomes king to avoid association with King Charles I and II.

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16. Grand Theft Grandma: Out of the 60 million people that live in the U.K., there’s only one that’s allowed to drive without a license: the Queen. The 92 year old maintains that her right to drive is granted under the “royal prerogative.”

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17. Do As I Do: On the endless list of rules one must follow when dining with the Queen, the most important is to stop eating or drinking as soon as she does. This practice began with Queen Victoria, a notoriously fast eater.

18. The “Vow of the Peacock”: What Christmas feast is complete without skinning a peacock, roasting it whole, redressing it with gold leaf and its own feathers, and then swearing an oath upon it? This practice has long since died out, but the “Vow of the Peacock” was once a yearly tradition among the Royal Family.

19. The “Royal We“: Also known as the “majestic plural,” the tradition of monarch’s using of we when referring to themselves originated in the days of the “divine right of kings.” Then, monarchs claimed to be speaking with both their own voice as well as God’s.

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20. Queen in Name: Since the establishment of Parliament, the Queen now serves mainly as a figurehead. For this reason, the Royal Family maintains a neutral stance when it comes politics — at least publicly, anyway.

ABC

While the Royal Family has maintained traditions, they’ve certainly changed in other ways. Here we have future Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip along with their two eldest children, Charles and Anne, standing with King George VI in 1951.

1953: After the death of George VI a year earlier, his eldest daughter ascended to the throne and became Queen Elizabeth II. Philip, in turn, received the title of prince consort. Below, the couple waves to their subjects from Buckingham Palace.

1960: A third royal child, Prince Andrew, arrived. The newborn enjoys a picnic with his parents and siblings during a holiday in Balmoral, Scotland. That’s right — that castle in the background was only their vacation home.

1965: This Christmas photo depicts the Royal Family shortly after the birth of Elizabeth and Philip’s fourth and final child, Prince Edward. Their household grew livelier than ever, and the new generation of royals quickly endeared themselves to the British public.

1971: Coming up on twenty years as monarch, Elizabeth greets onlookers with Edward, Andrew, and her niece Lady Sarah. They are headed to meet the rest of their extended family for a winter holiday at Sandringham House.

1976: By this point, Elizabeth’s children are old enough to rebel a bit. Prince Andrew laughs at his mother from the second row as she nervously rides at the front of a cable car. Edward, seated next to her, looks a little bit more respectful.

1977: This year marks Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee of 25 years on the British throne. She celebrated by visiting 36 different countries in the span of a few months, followed by a massive procession through London.

1980: For Prince Charles, most of the 1970s were his “bachelor years.” He seemed more content to party and jump between girlfriends than seriously pursue marriage. Here, he sips a coconut drink in Bhubaneswar, India, but he wouldn’t stay a bachelor for long.

1981: Incredible hype built up once Prince Charles announced that he would marry Lady Diana Spencer. The press dubbed the event “The Wedding of the Century,” and the public followed every aspect of the ceremony with fervor.

1982: Diana and Charles had their first son, William. The new parents play with William in Kensington Palace, though they didn’t refer to him as William behind closed doors. Interestingly, their family nickname for the young prince was “Wombat.”

1988: Four years earlier, Diana gave birth to her second son, Prince Harry. Far from shy of the many cameras around him, Harry sticks his tongue out from the Buckingham Palace balcony while Diana tells him to stop.

1992: Below, Philip, Charles, Elizabeth, and the Queen Mother depart from Princess Anne’s wedding. However, 1992 was not an easy year for the family. In addition to a fire in Windsor castle, marital troubles sprung up for Elizabeth’s children.

1995: Hurt by extramarital affairs and a 13-year age gap, Charles and Diana were separated throughout the early 1990s. However, they still attended official events together. They divorced a year later, though the greatest tragedy was yet to come.

1997: The entire world went into shock with the news that Princess Diana died in a violent Paris car crash. Thousands of guests attended her funeral at Westminster Abbey, while millions more watched on television. Her sons were only 15 and 12 at the time.

2002: More loss followed the royal family into the new millennium, though this instance was admittedly less shocking. The Queen Mother passed away at age 101. On a happier note, Queen Elizabeth reached her Golden Jubilee on this same year.

2005: Prince Charles carried on an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles while still married to Diana, so Charles and Camila met controversy when they announced their engagement. As a result, they chose to marry in a civil ceremony instead of a royal wedding.

2006: Now all grown up, Prince Harry decided to follow William into the military. As a Cornet in the famed Blues and Royals regiment, he stands at attention with his saber as Queen Elizabeth walks by. Still, he cannot help but crack a smile at his grandmother.

2011: The Brits — and just about everyone else — went crazy for the next generation of royal weddings. Prince William married Kate Middleton, a classmate from the University of St. Andrews, and over 160 million people watched the lavish ceremony. 

2017: The Royal family celebrates the 91st birthday of Queen Elizabeth, who also became the longest-reigning British monarch a couple years prior. William and Kate’s young children, George and Charlotte, watch the fanfare with excitement.

2018: Harry matched his brother’s fairytale wedding with one of his own. He married American actress Meghan Markle, best known from the TV show Suits. Meghan’s entry into the royal family is also notable because she is a woman of color.

Somehow, with all eyes on them, the Royal Family has managed to carve out somewhat normal lives for themselves. Ever annoy a sibling just because you feel like it? Prince Harry is teasing his older brother with a rather large boa constrictor. It’s all in good fun… unless you’re William.

Kensington Royals / Instagram

When Prince William and Duchess Kate aren’t holding down the fort in Kensington Palace, they like to escape royal life by going on a holiday. After welcoming Princess Charlotte, the two went skiing. Kate surprised William with a friendly snowball fight.

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They may not be blood relatives, but that doesn’t stop Kate and Meghan from gossiping like sisters while attending a tennis match with the rest of the family. What we wouldn’t give to hear what they’re talking about!

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Long before Kate was the Duchess of Cambridge, she was just plain-ol’ Kate Middleton. She wore silky dresses like the one below and took hackney carriages (taxis) from place to place with her baby sister Pippa.

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The future queen consort might be the coolest royal of them all. Not only is she holding her own on those roller skates, but she looks like she hasn’t aged. Talk about good genes.

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Prince Charles might be 70 years old, but this photo shows he’s still a schoolboy at heart. He’s been waiting seven decades to ascend the royal throne, but it doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon, so for now, this wall will have to do. Hang in there, Charles.

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This candid moment captured the Duchess of Cambridge catching the clumsy Countess of Wessex as she tripped while getting into the carriage. Good thing Kate caught her, otherwise that would have been a royal pain.

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Watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s love story has been like a real-life fairy-tale, and it’s only getting better. A photo like this really captures the dynamic relationship between the two. Find someone who looks at you like Harry looks at Meghan.

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Kate and William met while they were studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Who knows where they were going in this picture, but Kate sure does look annoyed with her beau. We feel you, Kate.

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Like we mentioned before, sports are a huge part of royal life. Unfortunately, the All England Club did not treat the Prince and Duchess well on this outing. The match must have been torturous to watch judging by their faces.

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Prince Harry has always been the goofball of the royal family. Here, it looks like he was participating in a charity event in place of — or without — his older brother Prince William. No worries, though: Harry made sure his brother was there in spirit.

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Kids are kids regardless if they have royal blood pumping through their veins. Look at little Prince Harry and Prince William enjoying a heart-pounding ride on the Nemesis at Alton Towers. We wonder if the brothers still ride roller coasters from time to time…

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And Princess Charlotte knows all too well that having royal blood doesn’t give her the power of endless energy. Being a royal kid is hard work, and it looks like it’s cutting into the princess’ nap time. Someone get her a royal blankey!

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Queen Elizabeth has sat on the British throne longer than any other monarch. That’s a long time in the public eye. Apparently, when the queen isn’t attending political affairs, she is outside catching snowflakes on her tongue.

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Kids love to stick their tongues out whenever a camera appears, too. Prince Harry might not be king, but he has always been the king of the silly-face pose. And he’s not alone. Even Princess Charlotte has been caught a time or two sporting this face to the cameras.

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Royal sunglasses must not be part of the event wardrobe protocol! Not even the duchesses’ fancy hats can block the sun from their eyes.

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Seeing how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expecting parents, it makes total sense that they have paternal and maternal instincts. It’s so endearing to see the pair interact with the youth of their country.

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Kate looks like she is having so much fun during her university days. She’s right in the middle of St. Andrews annual foam fight that welcomes new students. Even since college, Kate’s been a leader.

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Most people make this face when they meet Prince Harry, but he seems to be quite shocked himself. He better hold on tight to that tray of cupcakes before he accidentally throws them in the air.

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Curious from a young age, William was caught peeking up the skirt of the Prince of Whales during a fishing trip. We all know there are no fish up there, but William needed to check it out for himself first.

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A family that jokes together stays together, and William and Harry always make sure their family is in good spirits. Here they are in their younger days teaching the fam how to do the wave!

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A bit of healthy competition between brothers is totally normal. William and Harry weren’t afraid to put down the suits and roll around in the mud at their polo match. It got a little messy, to say the least.

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