This is the Royal Protocol Princess Charlotte and Prince George Must Follow Around Their Great-Grandmother, Queen Elizabeth

Prince George and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge

Prince George and Princess Charlotte | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

It’d be pretty crazy to comprehend that you’re the great-grandchild of a monarch, let alone the heir to the royal throne (we all know the fictional Mia Thermopolis didn’t handle it too well). While Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis are only 5, 3, and three months old respectively, they still have royal rules they need to follow when it comes to spending time with Queen Elizabeth II.

Alright, Prince Louis is a stretch. But one day he and Princess Charlotte will need to follow the royal protocol that Prince George is already subjected to as he navigates his spot in the royal family. The heir to the British throne may seem to be all blonde hair and funny face-making, but he is slowly starting his training to be a rule-abiding royal like his father with these surprising royal protocol.

The great-great-grandchildren will have to bow to the queen come age 5

Prince George may be third in line to the British throne, but he’s still required to show his respect to the queen as the subjects do: with a bow. Sure, eventually he’ll have most of the world bowing to him, but royal rules are rules and come age 5 all royals are expected to show their respect to Queen Elizabeth with a bow or curtsy.

Buckingham Palace considers the official protocol an “optional” bow or curtsy, but all royals choose to participate and usually experience backlash from the public if they don’t show their respect. Who each royal must bow to can get confusing — for example, a royal highness doesn’t bow to another royal highness — but the great-grandchildren have a fairly simple rule for now. “The only person they will curtsy or bow to is the sovereign,” royal expert Marlene Koenig said.

Royals try to sleep after the queen does

One of the queen’s private secretaries, Sir William Heseltine, disclosed an interesting tradition the royal family members abide by — they generally wait for Her Majesty to hit the pillow before retiring to their own beds. “There’d be an hour or so in the sitting room of everyone sitting around making conversation, and nobody felt it right to go to bed before the Queen did,” he said in an interview for The Royals In Australia.

While the Cambridge children don’t have to follow this rule quite yet — we anticipate Princess Charlotte may still be allowed a midday nap as well — they will one day be expected to extend their bedtime past the queen. Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, reportedly respected this rule when she met Queen Elizabeth. Princess Diana allegedly struggled to stay awake and often had to retire to her room early, despite the fact it’s considered “bad form.”

The great-grandkids take tea with Queen Elizabeth once a week

Prince George face

The face you make when Queen Elizabeth II invites you to tea. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Despite the fact royal experts only speculate Prince George knows he’s an heir to the throne, he certainly knows he comes from a unique family. He and his younger siblings have a gradual process ahead of them, but many predict he’ll serve in the military and need some type of work experience. The three children must also be educated by economic, political, and diplomatic advisors who will train them for the royal road ahead.

Most of these expectations won’t become actual practices until the children are teenagers. At a young age, their main engagement is taking tea with Queen Elizabeth every Thursday afternoon.

She likes to make them decorate the Christmas tree

This protocol is more for Queen Elizabeth’s sanity than it is an actual rule. The queen told Neil Turner, the staffer who decorated a Christmas tree the queen admired, her great-grandchildren’s favorite mischievous pastime. “My great-grandchildren … love knocking [the decorations] off.” She shared her trick to getting them to tread lightly: “The great thing is to make them decorate it, and then they’re a bit more careful.”

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