The Royal Rules on Public Displays of Affection – What’s Cool and What’s Not

Royals Showing Affection PDA Getty Images

The British royal family has been a fascination for Americans for decades. Whether we are intrigued by their lifestyle, their fashion, or even silly things like, “How tall is Kate Middleton?” – we are hooked on the royals!

One area of particular interest is their etiquette on public displays of affection. The British people are generally known to be more discreet with their romantic gestures. Kissing, holding hands, or lingering touches are not overtly encouraged across the pond and definitely frowned upon when you might have to wear a crown or tiara to work.

If anyone has to live regimented lives with strict rules, it’s definitely the royal family. But, what’s the deal with public displays of affection? Do they have to adhere to certain guidelines on how they show love in public? Let’s take a look at the do’s and don’ts for royal affection.

No Touchy-touchy When the Queen is Present

It’s a hard-fast rule that when Queen Elizabeth is present, you do not show affection towards your significant other. Because she is much more reserved in her demeanour, it is out of respect that the members of the royal family keep their hands to themselves when they are with Her Majesty. That means no holding hands, no gentle pats on the back, and definitely no kissing. Although Prince Harry and Megan are known to be very open with their public displays of affection, I’m sure they play it safe when they are with the Queen. Although, as of late, the Queen has been seen holding her husband’s hand at various events.

No Touching Around the Queen
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The queen does occasionally hold her husband’s hand at events, but often it’s only the tips of the fingers and not a full embrace. She sets the standard for all royals to adhere to when it comes to etiquette and Royal rules of public display.


They Can Pucker Up at Polo

Kissing is definitely a grander gesture of affection than say, a slight touch on the arm – and it’s not something that the many of the royals do in public. However, there seems to be a tradition started by Princess Diana for the royal wives to give their husbands a kiss when they are presented with their trophy at charity polo matches. Apparently, horses and a cute polo outfit is the magic potion for love to freely occur in public because kissing at the end of the match is encouraged! Here, you can see Kate and Megan continuing the legacy with their respective husbands, William and Harry…

Meghan and Kate Kissing After Polo
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Formal Events Means ALL the Formalities

When the royals attend a formal event, they often “adjust PDA to mirror the formality of the event they are attending,” states royal etiquette expert Myka Meier in an interview with People magazine. It is not considered appropriate or good taste for a royal to be too relaxed in their intimacy or romantic gestures while attending a fancy or somber affair. It wouldn’t be too hard for a senior member of the royal family to stick to these guidelines, as they have been steeped and groomed in the tradition of being stoic while in public. However, the younger royals may have to keep reminding themselves to save the love pats for when the night is over.

Meghan and Harry Formal Event
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Informal Events = Let the Good Times Roll

Formal events aside, the Royals aren’t expected to follow formal protocol’s when they’re out and about in casual settings. Essentially, they can be more relaxed with their loved ones when the event or situation doesn’t call for serious etiquette and stiffness. It’s no wonder Harry and Megan have been photographed numerous times being extremely close and lovey-dovey with each other at various events. They are clearly more comfortable in an informal setting that allows them to simply be a newly married couple. Even though William and Kate have been married for quite some time now, they’ve always been more reserved about displaying their affection towards each other in public.

Meghan and Harry Holding Hands
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So, Where do I Put My Hands?

It’s pretty much up to the couple on how “daring” they want to be with their love gestures; some are more conservative and prefer to keep things behind closed doors. Others are more relaxed and are totally comfortable with the quick peck, cheek nuzzle, or hand hold. Believe it or not, there’s no true protocol or guideline on holding hands for the Royals. While it’s been said that holding hands in public is breaking the rules, there aren’t any specific boundaries to grabbing your royal spouse’s hand. Even at official events, hand-holding is totally allowed. Even the Queen herself will take King Phillip’s hand while out in public!

William and Kate Hip Touch
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There’s obviously something glamorous and dreamy about being a royal, but it does come with its rules and structured lifestyle. Sure, it would be simply amazing to live in a breathtaking home surrounded by beautiful scenery. How wonderful it would be to send your kids to the best schools, grow up with nice things, and live a very comfortable life. It would be incredible to travel and represent your country diplomatically to support positive change. And yes, your shoe and hat game would be INCREDIBLE! But, if I had to think twice about showering my baby’s cheeks with kisses or blowing raspberries on her belly to hear her laugh while we’re out in public with nanna…I think I’d be just fine being an everyday citizen.



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