Royal Family Secrets Reveal the Bizarre Superstitions the Monarchy Believes
Family traditions and superstitions are a common thing. But for the most part, those silly notions aren’t declared for the whole world to hear. Such is the not the case for the British royal family, whose superstitions are put on display for the whole world to see. No matter how bizarre or archaic they are.
Here are some of the weirdest superstitions the monarchy still upholds. (Pages 11 and 12 are particularly interesting.)
The Tower of London ravens
Historians believe that ravens living in the Tower of London dates back to the 1800s. But to the royal family, those ravens have been over-seeing the monarchy since King Charles II reigned some 200 years prior. According to family superstition, if the ravens flew away, it would bring bad luck. The legend goes: “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.” There are still ravens that live in the tower and serve as a tourist attraction.
Next: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are shunning this next superstition.
Wondered why it’s such a big deal that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are getting married in May? That’s because the month is considered unlucky, according to royal family superstition. This belief dates back to Queen Victoria’s reign. The late monarch’s line on the matter was: “Marry in May, and rue the day.” (Queen Victoria makes a couple appearances on our list because she was so superstitious.)
Next: These rocks are no joke.
The gems and jewels
Kate Middleton’s gorgeous sapphire ring isn’t just an ode to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. The royal family has long believed that that gemstones hold magical powers since medieval times. Sapphires are a particular favorite because they are believed to bring on financial success and stability. Not surprisingly, Queen Victoria also wore a sapphire.
Next: And when it comes to protecting the crown jewels …
The Ceremony of the Keys
Modern security systems keep the crown jewels under tight security at the Tower of London. And heck, the monarch hasn’t lived there in ages. (More on that in just a second.) But the Ceremony of the Keys continues it’s centuries-old installment. Every evening, a ceremonial guard — called a Beefeater — walks the halls of the tower and locks all the gates to insure that thieves don’t break in.
Next: Getting back to where the queen lives …
The monarch’s residence
For a couple centuries now, Buckingham Palace has been recognized as the home of the reigning monarch. Incidentally, this isn’t Queen Elizabeth’s official address. Her official residence is technically St. Jame’s Palace, which is down the Mall. Why the separate address? According to Royal Central, the reigning monarch lived at St. Jame’s Palace prior to Buckingham House becoming Buckingham Palace just a couple hundred years ago. The first monarch to live at Buckingham Palace but keep St. Jame’s Palace as the official residence was — drumroll, please — Queen Victoria.
Next: A tradition that’s symbolic, but bizarre all the same.
Paying the rent
No, nobody is actually paying rent here. This is an annual ceremony paying homage to the Duke of Wellington and the British defeating Napoleon and the French in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The duke was given Stratfield Saye House as a gift for the victory. So every year, the current duke delivers a silken French flag to the queen to commemorate the win, i.e. “pay his rent.” A new flag is produced every year, and then draped over the bust of the first Duke of Wellington.
Next: At least most modern royals don’t actually believe this superstition.
The royal touch
Dating back to the Middle Ages, it was believed that being touched by the monarch could cure you of illness. This act was put into practice by King Charles II, with the belief that his touch was God-given and could cure a skin disease called scrofula. Not surprisingly, modern medicine has made this “divine” practice a bit obsolete.
Next: From touching the sick, to no touching at all.
No touching the royals
If there’s tradition that the monarchy has yet to shake, it’s the superstition that the members of the royal family cannot be touched by non-royals. As historian Dr. Kate Williams summarizes, this belief dates back to the Middle Ages. “”From medieval times, monarchs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they were kind of seen as gods, so they demanded to be treated as gods,” she says. Everyone from LeBron James to Michelle Obama has been criticized for throwing a friendly arm around the royals.
Next: Beware of sharp objects.
Towards the beginning of each year, Queen Elizabeth selects High Sheriffs during a meeting of the Privy Council. She does this in an act called the Pricking Ceremony, where she selects names from a list by poking through paper with a sewing needle. While it’s not clear, many believe this odd tradition started when Queen Elizabeth I was asked to choose her High Sheriffs while she was in the middle of embroidering, and used her bodkin as a selecting tool.
Next: And beware of seafood, too.
No shellfish allowed
One of the better-known superstitions among the royal family is that they don’t eat shellfish. This old-school tradition, which Queen Elizabeth upholds, comes from the fear of being poisoned or having a severe allergic reaction. (Which actually makes a lot of sense.) Shellfish still doesn’t appear on the Buckingham Palace menu, but some members of the family eat it. (Prince Charles and Kate Middleton are known seafood fans.)
Next: The most bizarre superstition of them all?
Holding a hostage
Once upon a time, the monarch and Parliament didn’t get along very well. They didn’t trust each other to the point that the royal family didn’t trust the safety of the sovereign while with Parliament. So, inc exchange, Parliament would have to send over a member to be “held hostage” to insure that the monarch’s safe return. When Queen Elizabeth gives her speech at The State Opening of Parliament in present day, a member still stays at Buckingham Palace as a hostage.
Next: Even more tradition from the State Opening …
Searching the cellars
In 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of co-conspirators called the Gunpowder Plotters set forward an assassination attempt on King James I during his speech to Parliament. His plan was foiled however when Fawkes was apprehended in the cellars below the House of Lords the night before. To this day, the queen’s royal guard still searches the cellars for Fawkes as a tradition.
Next: From searching for Fawkes’ ghost, to seeing a real one once a year.
Anne Boleyn’s ghost
Of all the figures in the monarchy’s history, Anne Boleyn continues to capture the most international intrigue. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the royal family allegedly still believes that her ghost walks around. According to family superstition — and local lore — there are at least seven different locations where her ghost has been seen. They include the Tower of London where she was executed — and the ghost allegedly walks around without a head.
Next: One more wacky tradition from Queen Victoria.
The royal ‘we’
As previously mentioned, monarchs are yesteryear believed that they were chose by God to rule. So when Queen Victoria spoke, she used the pronoun”we” instead of “I” — showing that she was speaking for both herself and her divine creator. Nowadays, Queen Elizabeth uses the plural when she addresses Parliament, but to convey that she is speaking for both herself and the nation.
Next: Last, but certainly not least …
There is some pretty basic superstition at play here. The royal family has believed for centuries that the coronation of a new monarch has to go perfectly without even the slightest hiccup. One mistake can be a sign that the monarchy is in trouble.
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