Royal Rules Prince William and Prince Harry Have Broken Over the Years

Princes William and Harry are no strangers to breaking rules. Most often they are perfectly well-behaved members of the British royal family, but every now and then they break royal protocol in small — and sometimes, very big — ways. Keep reading to see how they’ve broken royal rules over the years.

1985: Prince William attends a public school

Princess Diana, Prince Harry, and Prince William standing together.

Prince William enjoyed public school, so he followed the tradition himself. | Johnny Eggitt/AFP/Getty Images

Technically, Princess Diana strayed from royal protocol by sending Prince William to a public school but we like to think of this as the beginning of Prince William’s — and Prince Harry’s — life as a non-traditional royal. Even though both princes attended public schools, William became the first heir to the throne to attend a public school when he began his education at Jane Mynor’s nursery school, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Hint: Prince William makes a public statement with one photograph.

2006: Prince William kisses Kate Middleton in public

Prince William embracing Kate Middleton.

A little PDA never hurt anyone, even a royal. | Hans Gutknecht/AFP/Getty Images

Kate Middleton joins Prince William on a ski trip in January 2006. There, paparazzi photograph the couple skiing. The two even kiss for the cameras. While Kate Middleton has been photographed skiing with Prince William before, this is the first time they’ve kissed publicly, confirming their status as a couple. This is a big deal because royal protocol calls for no public displays of affection.

Hint: Queen Elizabeth II breaks protocol for this former first lady.

2009: Queen Elizabeth II hugs Michelle Obama

Then-President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 2011 in London, England.

The Queen reached for a hug. | Ben Gurr/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry and Prince William aren’t the only members of the royal family to break the rules. In 2009, Queen Elizabeth II broke protocol by putting an arm around then first lady, Michelle Obama, when she and then President Obama visited London, according to NBC. Michelle Obama returned Queen Elizabeth II’s move by placing her arm around the monarch.

Hint: Moved by a girl’s story, Prince William shows affection and breaks royal protocol.

2010: Prince William hugs a teenage girl

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge smiling while sitting on a chair.

He wasn’t afraid to get sentimental. | Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images

While attending a charity gala, Prince William broke protocol by hugging a teenage girl who moved him with her story about overcoming homelessness with help from the Centrepoint organization, according to E! News. Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana, also supported the organization. So touched by the girl’s story, Prince William and and Kate Middleton invited her to their wedding.

Hint: One man hopes he isn’t beheaded for how he broke royal protocol.

January 2, 2011: Prince Harry hugs winner of the World Darts Championship semifinal

Prince Harry is in a light grey suit.

He couldn’t contain his excitement. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“I came off stage buzzing, and the next thing I knew Prince Harry was coming over to me and giving me a big hug, so I kissed him on the cheek for some reason,” Adrien Lewis, the winner of the World Darts Championship seminal, told The Mirror. “I hope he didn’t mind and I don’t get beheaded before the final,” Lewis said. Technically, Prince Harry broke royal protocol first by giving Lewis a hug.

Hint: Prince Harry’s role in his brother’s wedding is a first.

April 29, 2011: Prince Harry is Prince William’s best man

Prince Harry and Prince William walking together on Pippa Middleton's wedding day.

The two brothers are very close. | Arthur Edwards – WPA Pool/Getty Images

In an unprecedented move, Prince William names Prince Harry his best man. Royal tradition states the groom choose a “supporter” rather than a “best man.” “A “best man” is usually only appointed if somebody who isn’t royal marries a Princess,” according to The Daily Mail. Now, the rumor mill is abuzz with whether or not Prince Harry will name Prince William, his best man, for his wedding to Meghan Markle.

Hint: Prince William breaks royal protocol with millions of people watching.

April 29, 2011: Prince William marries Kate Middleton

Britain's Prince William places a wedding ring on Kate Middleton's finger

The wedding of the century. | Dave Thompson/AFP/Getty Images

Prince William broke royal protocol in a huge way by marrying Kate Middleton. As a commoner, Kate Middleton was not of royal lineage. Therefore, she wouldn’t have been considered a suitable match for the future King of England.

Hint: What happens in Las Vegas doesn’t stay there for Prince Harry.

August 2012: Prince Harry plays strip pool

Prince Harry is smiling and wearing a suit in a gymnasium.

Prince Harry has had a wild night or two. | Joe Giddens – WPA Pool / Getty Images

While vacationing in Las Vegas, Prince Harry is photographed naked in a hotel room. Supposedly, Prince Harry found himself naked after playing strip pool — he must not be a very good pool player. We’re not sure this breaks any specific royal rule but we’re guessing the royal family frowns upon playing strip pool or any game involving nudity.

Hint: Prince Harry breaks protocol by petting a dog.

December 2015: Prince Harry pets a dog

Prince Harry petting a dog.

Prince Harry has always loved dogs. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus Games

In December 2015, Prince Harry broke royal protocol by petting a dog who won Britain’s Got Talent, according to The Sun. Prince Harry left his security detail to go back and pet Matisse, the winning dog. “Prince Harry was very sweet and lovely,” Jules O’Dwyer, the dog’s owner and trainer, said. “He said he doesn’t have a dog himself but he loved Matisse.”

Hint: Prince William hugs this iconic Star Wars character.

April 19, 2016: Prince William and Chewbacca hug

Prince William hugging Chewbacca.

The hug of a lifetime. | Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Another instance of Prince William breaking royal protocol comes when he and Prince Harry tour the Star Wars film set outside of London and meet the creative teams and some of the cast members. Prince William and Chewbacca share a hug, according to CBS. Again, hugs aren’t technically allowed. But who can resist hugging Chewy? No one, not even a prince.

Hint: Prince William gets scolded by Queen Elizabeth II on national TV.

June 11, 2016: Queen Elizabeth II scolds Prince William

Prince William looking over at Queen Elizabeth.

Even Prince William gets scolded every now and then. | Justin Tallis /AFP/Getty Images

During the Trooping the Colour ceremony, Prince William innocently crouches down to speak with his son, Prince George, while they’re on a balcony at Kensington Palace greeting the public, according to UsWeekly. When Queen Elizabeth II sees what’s going on, she taps Prince William on the shoulder and says, “William, stand up.” He obliges his grandmother and does as she asks. No doubt Prince William crouching down breaks some form royal protocol.

Hint: Kate Middleton and Prince William snub Queen Elizabeth II and her Christmas invitation.

December 2016: Prince William bucks Christmas tradition

Prince George, Duchess Kate, Princess Catherine, and Prince William in the Royal Family Christmas Card 2015.

Prince George, Duchess Kate, Princess Catherine, and Prince William in the Royal Family Christmas Card 2015 | Kensington Palace via Instagram

A Christmas tradition for the British royal family is to spend the holiday at Sandringham House with Queen Elizabeth II. Instead of following tradition, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their kids spent Christmas in 2016 with Kate’s side of the family. The Middletons welcomed Kate, William, and their growing family to their home in Berkshire, according to Marie Claire.

Hint: Prince William continually breaks this royal rule.

July 2017: Prince William travels with his wife and kids

Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their kids at an airport.

The family wants to start their own traditions. | Julian Simmonds-Pool/Getty Images

Prince William and Kate Middleton break royal protocol every time they fly with their son, Prince George, and daughter, Princess Charlotte. Royal protocol states that two heirs should never fly on the same plane together to protect the lineage to the throne, according to E! News.

Hint: Like Prince William, Prince Harry broke this major rule.

May 2018: Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle

Prince Harry smiling next to Meghan Markle.

Everyone is excited about the upcoming wedding. | Getty Images

Like Prince William, Prince Harry is also in a relationship with a commoner. When Prince Harry began dating actress Meghan Markle, the world erupted with questions about their life as a couple. Nevertheless, the pair got married, which is another breach of protocol because Meghan Markle is not a royal.

Hint: Prince William and Prince Harry learned about breaking rules from their mother.

October 25, 1991: Princess Diana touches HIV/AIDS patients

Princess Diana holding a bouquet of flowers.

She had a kind heart. | Daniel Luna/AFP/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe a simple handshake or hug can change the world’s attitude toward a disease but that’s exactly what happened when Princess Diana shook a man’s hand, according to the BBC. “She did so without gloves, publicly challenging the notion that HIV/Aids was passed from person to person by touch.” At the time, Diana told the press, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.”

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