10 Common Words Banned by the Royal Family

It’s obvious that you’re unlikely to catch Kate Middleton dropping f-bombs or Prince Harry calling Meghan Markle his “bae.” But it turns out the British royal family’s speech mannerisms go deeper than just good grooming and etiquette. There are actual rules that the royal family members must follow when speaking — and there are perfectly normal words they’re never, ever allowed to say.

You may know some of the weird rules that royal family members follow (and even break). But did you know about the 10 words you’ll never catch them saying? Read on to find out what they are.

1. Pardon

Kate Middleton and Downton Abbey actresses
Kate Middleton talking to actresses from Downton Abbey | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

It sounds so polite, doesn’t it? But it’s still one of those words that will never pass royal family members’ lips. It’s actually considered rude to say pardon. Instead, you’re supposed to say, “Sorry?” or even, “Sorry, what?”

Another option is the smile and nod, even if you didn’t hear what the other person was saying. It works in a pinch.

Next: When nature calls, they won’t say this.

2. Toilet

White men's and women's restroom doors
White men’s and women’s restroom doors | tomap49/Getty Images

When a princess needs to powder her nose, so to speak, she’ll ask to use the loo or lavatory. “Toilet” is a word with French origins, making it taboo to utter in the queen’s presence.

Next: The word they use for this is slightly creepy.

3. Perfume

Perfume bottles
Perfume bottles | Saddako/iStock/Getty Images

Like with toilet, it’s the origins of the word “perfume” that cause an issue. The complicated relationship between France and the U.K. make many crossover words problematic.

If you notice a fragrance you enjoy emanating from a nearby person and you happen to be part of the royal family, you’ll want to inquire what scent they’re wearing instead of saying perfume.

Next: If you have to use this word, it’s probably not true.

4. Posh

Kate Middleton and Prince William tour Canada
Kate Middleton and Prince William | Dominic Lipinski-Pool/Getty Images

Of course they’re posh. But once just like being rich, popular, or famous, if you have to say it, you probably aren’t.

Instead of saying posh, royal family members describe an admired person as “smart.”

Next: This is where royals entertain.

5. Lounge

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Michelle Obama in the Drawing Room of Apartment 1A Kensington Palace
Kate Middleton speaking with Michelle Obama in Kensington Palace | Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Reception areas used for entertaining aren’t called lounges or living rooms — instead, these entertaining spaces should be referred to as drawing rooms or sitting rooms.

Next: This banned word is slightly surprising.

6. Tea

Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, President Mary McAleese, Queen Elizabeth II, and Dr. Martin McAleese talk over a cup of tea
Prince Phillip and Queen Elizabeth II speaking to guests over tea | Irish Government – Pool/Getty Images 

You know that cliché about British people being obsessed about tea time? You better not call it that in royal company, or you risk sounding low class. A Cambridge-educated anthropologist confirmed that upper-class U.K. residents refer to the tea time meal as dinner or supper instead.

Next: Here’s what they call their parents.

7. Mum and dad

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales arrive for the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles | Jonathan Brady/AFP/Getty Images 

It sounds like something reserved for toddlers, but it turns out royals never stop calling their parents mummy and daddy. Even full grown adults will refer to their parents with these cutesy names rather than more casual terms of endearment.

Next: They’ll never use this word during meals.

8. Portion

Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen's dinner during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen’s dinner | Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images

When you’re attending a royal dinner, don’t mention the portion size or ask for a larger portion — it’s referred to as a helping of food in upscale company. Even though it sounds less fancy, that’s just the way they say it.

Next: This outdoor space has a specific term.

9. Patio

Patio furniture on modern deck
Furniture on a modern patio | Martin Barraud/iStock/Getty Images

This one refers to outdoor spaces. Only peasants call it a patio. In royal company, you’ll meet for outdoor cocktails on the terrace instead.

Next: This is what you should call the sweet meal that comes after supper.

10. Dessert

s'mores with marshmallow, graham crackers, strawberries, and chocolate sauce
S’mores with marshmallow, graham crackers, strawberries, and chocolate sauce | iStock.com/happy_lark 

Is it time for tea and crumpets already? Post-dinner sweet treats aren’t called dessert or even sweets — they’re known as pudding (even if they’re not really pudding).

Read more: Weirdest Perks the Queen and the British Family Enjoy

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