5 major royal rules Queen Elizabeth has broken during her reign

Queen Elizabeth (Photo: Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth (Photo: Getty Images)

Royal commentators go into complete and utter shock when someone breaks royal protocol. But in our opinion, some royal rules are meant to be broken.

The queen herself has broken a few significant rules during her reign – and it’s only made the British monarchy better – stronger.

Here, we look at five things that have changed and completely transformed the royal family since the queen came into power.

1. Boys and girls both get to ascend to the throne

For more than a thousand years male primogeniture, i.e. being the firstborn male in the family, meant you’d automatically ascend to the throne – and displace an elder daughter, of course. But Queen Elizabeth changed that in 2013 by amending the Succession to the Crown Act which came into force in March 2015, according to The Royal Household.

You’ll, therefore, notice the line of succession sees Prince Charles as the heir apparent, followed by Prince William, Prince George, then Princess Charlotte before Prince Louis.

2. It’s Princess Charlotte to you

In 2012 Queen Elizabeth also issued Letters Patent ensuring that should Prince William and Kate Middleton have a girl child, she wouldn’t be referred to as merely "Lady Charlotte", which was also the decree for the longest time, according to Independent. Instead, the firstborn son and daughter after, would be given both the title of Prince or Princess and be referred to as His or Her Royal Highness.

3. The more 'approachable' queen

Sure, you still can’t touch the queen – we shudder at the thought of someone approaching her without being approached first. But it’s Queen Elizabeth who first engaged with the public in a big way, when she initiated the first-ever royal walkabout in 1970, according to Reader’s Digest.

There is one person, an almost American royal if you will, who did approach and even hug the queen – and she lived to tell the tale!

In her book Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama recalls the day she met with the queen and the two broke royal protocol when they shared a hug. "We were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes," she explained.

4. Members of the royal family can now marry Roman Catholics

Since 1701, members of the royal family could not marry Roman Catholics. This has much to do with the fact that the monarch is Head of the Church of England, a Protestant Anglican church.

Over the years the rule saw many a relationship perish – King George IV’s marriage to Roman Catholic Maria Fitzherbert wasn’t recognised as a result.

While a Roman Catholic still may not ascend to the throne, a member of the royal family in the line of succession can however marry a Roman Catholic, according to the amendments made in 2013 that came into effect in 2015.

5. Members of the royal family can now marry divorcees

In 1950 Princess Margaret issued a statement announcing her separation from Capt. Peter Townsend. "Mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others," she said, according to PEOPLE.

Her decision to end her relationship had to do with the fact that members of the royal family were not allowed to marry divorcees at the time – which Capt. Townsend happened to be.

But in 2002, the Church of England and Queen Elizabeth officially allowed divorcees to marry – and even while their former spouses were alive. This was the case for Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles who tied the knot in 2005, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who married in 2018. 

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