British royalty always appears cool, calm, and collected. There are countless posts dedicated to achieving the “Kate Middleton blow-out” and “dressing like royalty.” Have you ever considered how the women in U.K.’s most famous family feel when held to nearly impossible beauty standards?
These well-known duchesses, princesses, and soon-to-be royals have been affected by the high expectations that the royal family (and the rest of the world) have cast on them. The men have some interesting rules they have to follow, as well (page 11). Most importantly, find out how the royal family is working to combat the unnecessary stigma that might be affecting these standards (page 15).
The view of female beauty in the U.K.
A U.K. study revealed what Brits view to be “the epitome of beauty” in both men and women. Researchers compiled pictures of faces using the computer program police use to identify criminals. Chris Soloman, M.D., led the study with “surprising results.”
Women and men didn’t entirely agree on what the face of an “ideally attractive” woman looked like. “Interestingly, for the female face of beauty, women rated a sexier appearance as the most beautiful than their male counterparts — women perceived fuller lips, a slimmer face, larger eyes and higher cheekbones as the most beautiful, more so than the male population,” Soloman told The Independent.
Next: It isn’t all about facial features.
Standards regarding the ‘average body’ are shifting
International lingerie brand Bluebella conducted a study on the average British woman 60 years ago compared to that of the average British woman in 2017. Her dress size rose from a size 12 to a size 16, and her waistline increased by 6 inches.
The study’s findings revealed that women experienced a lifestyle shift, as well, working more and staying home less frequently. U.K. women’s life expectancy has risen from 73 to 83 over the last 60 years as well.
Next: Women in the U.K. experience the most pressure.
The expectations of royal women are the worst
The 2017-2018 Kensington Palace exhibition titled “Diana: Her Fashion Story” gives insight into the evolution of the princess’ style. However, to some viewers, it had an overarching theme of the expectations of modern royalty, rather than just a walk down fashion memory lane.
Diana’s designers made comments about the princess’ royal image, mentioning that Diana didn’t just choose what she wanted to wear, but rather picked an outfit based on her knowledge of what the people wanted her to look like. This view that royal women are also fashion icons — sometimes before they’re even married into the family — puts significant pressure on them.
Next: Let’s explore the queen’s beauty struggles.
Queen Elizabeth II became a fashion icon
The longest-reigning monarch became a fashion icon regardless of whether she wanted to. Queen Elizabeth was thrust onto the throne at only 25 years old, and her every move was examined.
“During the following six decades, the Queen has never made a sartorial slip,” The Telegraph wrote. She wore colorful and clean-cut coats, donned sturdy shoes and bags, and dressed with a recognizable flair that wasn’t showy, but rather expressive while following the strict expectations of how royals need to dress (page 9).
Next: The world’s favorite princess coped with a dangerous relationship with food.
Princess Diana struggled with public pressure
In 1995, Princess Diana gave a BBC exclusive interview. She discussed the end of her marriage to Prince Charles, along with how her low self-esteem led to a personal battle with bulimia.
“I didn’t like myself, I was ashamed I couldn’t cope with the pressures,” she said. “I had bulimia for a number of years, and that’s like a secret disease. It’s a repetitive pattern which is very destructive. It was my escape mechanism.”
Next: Even duchesses diet.
Kate Middleton’s diet came under fire
The Duchess of Cambridge reportedly used the Dukan diet to slim down before her wedding in 2011. The Dukan diet, which takes the focus away from counting calories, puts an emphasis on protein consumption. The goal of the diet is to lose weight, which the founder of the diet thought Middleton might have taken too far.
“I think she lost too much,” Pierre Dukan told the Daily News.
Next: The newest royal addition has beauty qualms of her own.
Meghan Markle works hard to stay in shape
Speculation arose once Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement that the former Suits actress would try the Dukan diet before her wedding as Middleton had. While these rumors haven’t been confirmed, Markle has revealed how she stays in shape.
“You have to find a workout routine that really speaks to you beyond trying to get goals for your body,” Markle told Shape. “So for me, running, I need it as much like for my head and clearing my head as I do for keeping in shape.”
Next: Markle’s natural look took the internet by storm.
Meghan Markle’s natural hair
A photo surfaced of Rachel Meghan Markle (yep, Meghan is the future royal’s middle name) from the pages of her high school yearbook. Markle attended the all-girls school Immaculate Heart High in Los Angeles.
Markle’s junior year photo showed the former actress fresh-faced and sporting voluminous, natural curls. Twitter wasted no time praising Markle for showing off her natural hair as opposed to the coiffed look of soon-to-be royalty.
Next: The rule all royals must abide by.
They have a strict dress code
There’s a reason you’ve never seen Kate Middleton traipsing through Hyde Park in joggers, and it’s not because she doesn’t want to (well, we assume). The royal family has a dress code, and it comes as no surprise that “casual clothing” isn’t included on the list of acceptable attire.
The code in question is “modest.” The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have taken some liberty with the day code — Kate’s been photographed in jeans, usually paired with a blazer — but formal occasions are strict. Women must wear hats to all formal events or tiaras (if they’re married) for events held indoors after 6 p.m.
Next: Royals must always look put-together.
A clean-cut, put-together image is necessary
Kate Middleton reportedly gets a blowout three times a week. Prince George rarely leaves the house without a collared shirt. And the queen is often photographed sporting a pair of gloves. The royal family has intense etiquette protocol they must follow, as well.
Royal etiquette rules dictate how the family sits (crossing your legs at the knee is unacceptable, but crossing the ankles is OK), how they drink their tea, and the order in which they enter a room.
Next: Why you’ll rarely see Prince George in long pants
There are appearance standards for the royal men, too
Rain or shine, you’ll usually only see Prince George wearing shorts. The Duchess of Cambridge is tasked with not only dressing herself down to the last detail but with making sure her children dress the royal part.
“She has to find a balance between royal tradition, heritage and more proletariat customs, such as the ‘suburban’ habit of making young boys wear trousers,” William Hanson, a British etiquette consultant, told The Sun. George will likely be allowed to wear trousers around 7 or 8 years old, Hanson said.
Next: The rules all royals have to follow.
All royals are held to strict rules
While some rules don’t affect how royals look and dress, they’re still invasive in their lives. Who wouldn’t be excited if the NBA’s most famous player threw his arms around them? Kate Middleton couldn’t act star struck, unfortunately.
What LeBron James meant as a friendly photo-op turned into a controversy. There’s reportedly a rule against touching royals; however, royal etiquette expert Hanson doubted the duchess was actually worried about it. “Americans are much more tactile than we Brits and this is another example of an American being too touchy feely with British royalty. You’d have thought they’d have learned by now.” Hanson told the Daily Mail.
Next: How the women build each other up
The royal women are there for one another
It should be evident by now: While it’s glamorous, being royal is no easy feat. Women and men who marry into the royal family have a learning curve as they adjust to life inside Kensington Palace. When reports arose that the royal family teases Middleton for her “walkabout” behavior when talking to commoners, she shared this awe-inspiring bit of information: Queen Elizabeth II, her grandmother-in-law, helped her learn the royal ways.
“She’s been generous and not forceful at all in her views,” Kate said. “And she’s really been there in a gentle guidance for me.”
Next: How do these high expectations affect the U.K. population?
Great expectations across the U.K.
The digital media company SheKnows released its Hatch program in which young girls discuss body image and how the media promotes a certain image. One of the participants discussed how altered magazine covers and advertisements “fuel unhealthy comparisons.”
“You can pick out all your flaws, and then society does that as well for you,” she said. There are groups in the U.K. like Be Real that are dedicated to changing the public’s perception and attitudes to create a “body positive nation.”
Next: What the royal family is doing to facilitate conversation
Some royals are working to normalize these conversations
Prince William and Kate Middleton, along with Prince Harry, partnered with Heads Together, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and lowering the stigma surrounding mental health conversations.
Journalist Mark Austin spoke with Prince William in the documentary Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia and discussed his daughter Maddy and her struggles with the disease. “We need to normalize the conversation about mental health. The fact that you are speaking out is incredibly brave,” the prince said to Austin.
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