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“Being born into the Royal Family is like being born into a mental asylum. Marrying into it is not something to be taken lightly.” —John Lydon

The Royal Family attracts media attention and adoration from people everywhere they go. Whether we’re talking about Charles or Camilla, Will or Harry, Kate or Meghan, Prince Philip or the Queen herself,  since the beginning of the twentieth century the British Royal Family has sought to increase their public profile to seem more like they are a part of the British people as a whole. As a result, British society has made them a big part of the news cycle, especially in the Tabloid Press. So who are the Royal Family? Where do they come from, and where are they going? Here are 24 facts about the current figures who make up the British monarchy.


24. You Look Familiar

The famous Madame Tussauds wax museum has for a long time housed figures of The Queen. To this date, there have been a total of 23 life-size models of The Queen displayed in the museum.

23. Parlez-Vous Francais?

The Queen is fluent in French. She will often speak the language while hosting guests at Buckingham Palace, and when she travels to France she does not need to make use of an interpreter.

22. By Decree

What we currently understand to encompass the British Royal Family can be traced back to a letters patent published in the London Gazette by King George V in 1917. The decree defined the styles and titles of the Royal Family, which has only been changed twice since: in 1996 and 2012.

21. Rough Patch

Kate Middleton, now officially holding the title of Duchess of Cambridge, almost never made it into the Royal Family. Although she had a long-term relationship with Prince William, the pair split for a brief period in 2007 before deciding to give it another shot. Clearly it stuck this time.

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20. Charitable

The Duchess of Cambridge leads a busy life with her philanthropic work. Her charity work often focuses on young children, the arts, and addiction. She holds a number of patronages, including “Action on Addiction,” “The Natural History Museum,” and The Art Room.

19. By Degrees

Prince Charles broke with tradition when he decided to receive a formal university education at Cambridge. He received a degree in history, though his work was far from the most compelling. He received a 2:2 degree.

The British Royal Family Facts

18. Incognito in the Crowd

During Victory in Europe Day, people flooded the streets of London celebrating the end to so much death and destruction. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret convinced their family that they should be allowed to join in the celebrations, and they were allowed to go out into the streets and participate  anonymously.

17. Saying Farewell

Princess Diana’s funeral was televised across Britain and around the globe on September 6, 1997. The funeral amassed one of the highest-ever viewing figures in the United Kingdom. At its highest viewing peak, 32.1 million viewers tuned in to the state funeral.

16. Sacrifice

When she agreed to marry Prince Harry, Meghan Markle had to undergo some major changes to her life. She started studying to become a British citizen, she deleted her social media presence, and she was baptised into the Church of England.

15. Off With Her Heels!

The Queen’s corgis were known to be a bit troublesome. Several times the dogs nipped staff, the family, and even the Queen herself! In 1968, Peter Doig demanded that a “Beware of the Dog” sign be erected out front of Balmoral after one of the corgis went after the postman. But, I mean, it’s the postman, what’s a dog to do?

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14. Attention!

It’s tradition for princes to embark on military training. Charles, Prince of Wales trained with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. He served on the guided missile destroyer the HMS Norfolk and the frigates HMS Minerva and HMS Jupiter.

13. Fly-Boy

Prince Charles was, for a while, an avid pilot based on his training in the RAF. He flew regularly until 1994, when he crashed a BAe 146 in Scotland. He was unharmed in the crash, but thought better of taking off again.

12. Built Environments

Prince Charles’ biggest philanthropic endeavors often concern city life and built environments. He has frequently commented on his desire to preserve a strong architectural sense in Britain and has publicly denounced building renovations that he feels to be too modern.

11. Room With a View

In 1987, Prince Charles published a book and correlating BBC documentary called A Vision of Britain. The documentary was an attempt to campaign on behalf of traditional urbanism, where restoration of historic buildings and sustainable design were advocated for in place of modern architecture.

10. Out You Go

Queen Elizabeth II was born in the London house of her maternal grandfather, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. She was delivered by Caesarean section.

9. What’s in a Name

Elizabeth II, beloved as a figure of charm and poise, perhaps always had a twinkle about her. When she was young, close family called her “Lilibet” because as a toddler that’s how Elizabeth imagined her name sounded.

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8. Heir Presumptive

When she was born, not many people actually imagined that Elizabeth II would ever become queen. At the time, she was third in line to the throne behind her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father. However, Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 when his proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson prompted a constitutional crisis.

7. Infelicitous Behavior

After marrying in 1981, Prince Charles and Princess Diana sustained a rather rocky marriage. Both were involved with extramarital affairs before they eventually divorced on August 28, 1996. The marriage troubles and divorce were major tabloid news in Britain throughout the 1990s.

6. Where Were You During the War?

Throughout World War II, Elizabeth and her family stayed in the United Kingdom despite calls to move outside the island, with the aim of keeping Elizabeth II safe. Elizabeth’s mother refused, and instead they moved around different homes and castles, including Balmoral, Sandringham House, and Windsor Castle.

5. Top Secret

In 1999, a successful request made under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the NSA, the major intelligence agency for the United States, had placed Princess Diana under surveillance. Because of national security concerns, the contents of her file cannot be revealed.

4. You Might Like Him

Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, met Prince Harry on a blind date. The date was set up by a mutual friend of the pair. Sounds like fairy-tale endings do exist!

3. Must Love Dogs

Queen Elizabeth II’s very last pure Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Willow, passed away in 2018—and the Queen admitted the heartbreaking reason she can no longer keep her beloved Corgis as pets. Elizabeth revealed that she just couldn’t bear to leave any of her Corgis by their lonesome after her death, so she had to stop breeding them. She has owned over 30 Corgis in her life, and still owns two dachsund/Corgi mixes named Vulcan and Candy.

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2. Nice Ink

King George V was a sensitive boy raised to carry the burden of the entire British Empire on his back. But few people know that hidden underneath his proper demeanor and noble regalia was a royal secret: George had a tattoo. Though we might find this shocking today, tattoos were quite popular in England in the 19th century. While he was on a visit to Japan in 1881, George had a local artist give him a blue and red dragon on his arm right before he was scheduled to meet the Emperor. Pretty cool, George.

1. Half Mast

Until 1997, general protocol at Buckingham Palace was against flying the Union Jack at half-mast. On the day of Princess Diana’s funeral, however, The Queen ordered all flags to fly at half-mast, which has now become the usual practice during moments of national mourning or a death in the Royal Family.

Moreover, amidst the royal family’s polarizing response to Diana’s death in 1997, it was Philip who convinced her sons to walk behind her coffin. When Princes William and Harry were apprehensive, Philip reportedly told his eldest grandson, “If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?” At the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles, and Diana’s brother followed the bier.

The British Royal Family Facts

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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