Etiquette Rule Book for Royal Family Tours
Most of the British public enjoy watching a royal tour taking place overseas. Nowadays, they seem to be a regular occurrence.
And why is that so?
Well, one of the reasons is that many of the senior members of the Royal Family are still working in a full time capacity.
Embarking on a royal tour gives the royals a chance to visit countries far and wide. Of course, it also provides an opportunity for younger members of the Royal Family to learn about different cultures.
Nonetheless, there is no shortage of traditions and royal tour regulations that British Royals need to follow when taking a trip overseas of the United Kingdom.
Royal Family Tour Rules: Dos and Don’ts!
Pack a Black Outfit ‘Just in Case’
There is a strict requirement for all British Royals to take a change of clothes (e.g. a spare black outfit) with them while touring abroad.
The reason for packing a spare black outfit?
Well, despite being for morbid reasons, it ensures all travelling Royals can dress in black if there was a sudden death in the family back in the United Kingdom.
The introduction of this compulsory rule for royal tours came about in 1952. It happened to be a trip to Kenya undertaken by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
At that time, the Princess heard the sad news that King George, her father, had passed away while she was overseas. So, because the Queen hadn’t packed a black dress, she could not disembark the plane dressed in appropriate clothing when she arrived home.
The Queen had to wait on the plane until they could deliver a black dress to avoid her wearing unsuitable clothing as she disembarked.
From that point on, all members of the Royal Family must pack a spare black outfit when they go touring overseas – to be able to pay their respects.
Note: The section about the laws in British history contains more information about the Royal Family and the traditions still followed in United Kingdom.
Flying with British Airways
As you might expect, the British Royal Family will take the majority of their commercial flights abroad with British Airways.
After all, British Airways is the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom.
BA flew Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and their baby (Archie) to South Africa for their heavily publicised trip in 2019.
But, they will also use the official RAF Voyager plane if there are security concerns. Prince William and Kate Middleton took this option for their trip to Pakistan.
Can the Royal Family Fly Together?
As a general rule, flying together in families is not encouraged (even though it happens). The relaxation of this rule is due mostly to the fact that airline safety improvements have made it safer to fly.
Even so, according to royal rules and traditions, two royal heirs should never fly together on the same flight. The rationale? Well, in theory, a serious plane crash could affect the royal lineage with devastating effect.
Note: Another section glides through all the key categories of flying rules and regulations when heading in and out of the United Kingdom (e.g. hand luggage restrictions).
Travelling with a Full Entourage
British Royal Family members do not travel solo on any of the royal tours. In fact, it takes an enormous amount of planning, and many staff members, to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Reports suggest Prince William and Kate Middleton traveled with an entourage of fourteen members of staff during their royal tour of Pakistan in 2019. It included a hairdresser, a doctor, as well as several communications and private secretaries.
Medical Personnel (including bags of blood)
Extra medical precautions are always needed when any of the top tier of the monarchy takes flight for a royal tour.
Hence, it’s understood that the most senior members (e.g. The Queen) will have bags of their own blood available during the trip.
Needless to say, it has to be the right blood type (yes it is red – not blue). But, it is considered as one of the essential Royal Family tour rules when they travel to any countries where blood supply is seen as ‘insufficient’.
In fact, when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles undertake royal tours, they will always have a doctor travelling with them.
Showing Respect for Host Countries
Learning the Basics of Other Languages
The Royal Family will be acting as representatives for the monarchy while they are on tour. It generally includes being ‘ambassadors’ for the United Kingdom as well.
So one way of impressing their hosts will be to learn how to make basic greetings in the native language of the host country.
According to a royal tour etiquette expert:
“Internal palace aids would always be available to prepare each royal before they make any important visit. The proper protocol means practicing the etiquette of the country or culture you will be visiting. It shows respect, and every royal knows how to make the best first impression.”
Selecting Clothing that Respects Different Cultures
Strengthening and maintaining ties with foreign nations is one of the key intentions of overseas visits. It is particularly pertinent for those countries where the Queen is Head of State (e.g. the British Overseas Territories).
As a result, travelling royals will make a concerted effort to honour and respect the cultures of countries they will be visiting.
A royal family biographer said:
“Adhering to different dress codes is part and parcel of royal tour rules and of great importance. In some countries, it will mean giving extra consideration to the length of hems, sleeves, and necklines. Often, women will also pay respect to the country by displaying a national flower. Likewise, men may need to wear tie pins, medals, sashes, and display handkerchiefs instead.”
Getting Changed at the Last Minute
It goes without saying, they will be trying to fit as much into each visit that their schedule allows. Indeed, maximising photo opportunities is an integral part of the royal tour rules and regulations.
Thus, you will often see a plethora of picture opportunities as royals disembark the plane following their arrival to a new location. But, this only works well when they follow the strict rules on getting dressed.
One royal expert revealed:
“Only after receiving last minute briefings on the plane will the royals change out of their travel clothes. So, they will dress into their outfits at the very last minute to avoid creating any wrinkles or spillage stains.”
Restricting the Length of Royal Tours
Nowadays, it is commonplace for royals to travel to countries on the other side of the world. Yet, royal overseas visits almost never last longer than two weeks. So why is that?
According to a royal tour protocol expert:
“Despite being away for several weeks, they rarely get much free time to spend with each other. Many years ago, royal tours would span several months at a time. But, it has become more ‘economical’ for royals to cover more engagements in less time. Thus, they will never be away longer than a fortnight. Instead, it has become customary to attend up to four engagements per day on a royal tour.”