Being part of the royal family doesn’t mean getting to do whatever you want—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The rules and traditions that the British family has to follow are extensive and dictate exactly how everyone should act in public.
Even Queen Elizabeth is beholden to the rules, though she does have the power to change them if she wants. There are several notable examples of times when the Queen overhauled outdated customs—like the sexist rule that Prince Louis would come before older sister Princess Charlotte in the line of succession just because he’s a boy and she’s a girl.
But even though the Queen can change royal protocol as she sees fit it doesn’t mean that royals are going to start behaving drastically differently. Ahead, check out some of the words you’d never catch Queen Elizabeth or any royal family members saying.
The Queen has a reputation to uphold
Being Queen means having people listen to your every word and getting quoted in multiple places. For that reason, there are certain ways that Queen Elizabeth and other high-ranking royal family members conduct themselves, and it always skews towards formal over casual.
That doesn’t mean that the royal family talks down to people—it’s more that they speak carefully and pay close attention to every way their words might be taken. When in doubt, they’ll always choose more formal speech over slang.
Some words are banned in the British monarchy
While it’s doubtful that there’s a literal list of forbidden words for the British royal family, there are certain things that the royals simply don’t say.
For example, many words with French origins are ignored in favor of their British equivalents. This is because of the tense relationship these two countries have had over the decades.
Even though things have calmed down, many French words are still taboo for royals. You’ll never hear royals speaking of a “toilet” (they say loo or lavatory), “perfume” (it’s scent), or dessert, which comes from the French word “dressevir.”
After dinner the Queen enjoys “pudding,” even if they aren’t technically having pudding.
These words are considered rude in the Queen’s company
Meeting Queen Elizabeth is a great honor—just be sure you never speak these words to her if you do get the opportunity.
First, “Pardon” or “I beg your pardon” is not the acceptable way to convey that you didn’t hear something. When conversing with the royal family, you would just say “What?” or else they’ll think you’re rude.
Speaking of manners, calling someone or something “posh” is considered vulgar. Instead, you’d say an attractive item was “smart.” And if this conversation is happening in a room with chairs and “sofas” (never say couch), you’d call it the “drawing room” or “sitting room.” Lounge and living room are considered American words and aren’t used in polite company.
If you’re there for tea, don’t call it tea. Instead it’s “supper” or “dinner.”
Royals speak a certain way with each other
It probably seems adorable that Prince Charles still calls his mother Queen Elizabeth by the name “Mummy.” But this isn’t a show of deep affection—rumor has it he doesn’t have a very close relationship with the Queen after his childhood anyway. Instead, British royals continue to refer to their parents as Mummy and Daddy rather than swapping to the more informal “Mom” or “Dad.”
Even at 70 years old, the Prince of Wales still follows this tradition and always will.