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The Queen’s strict dress code banning Kate Middleton from wearing certain shoes

7 min read

The royal family live by a seemingly never-ending list of rules and regulations. This code, while unwritten, is essential to the monarchy’s image, and dictates everything from what colour nail varnish royals can wear to the length of young princes’ trousers.

While some are tradition, it seems others are simply a matter of the Queen’s personal taste. It is essential for anyone joining the royal family to know what they are not allowed to wear – or face a royal fashion disaster.

READ MORE: Prince Louis looks unrecognisable in new photo of the Queen with all of her great-grandchildren



The Queen has a lot of rules other royals must follow

But there’s one particular rule that will ban Kate Middleton and other royals from wearing a certain type of shoe while in the Queen’s presence. It is an unspoken rule that members of the royal family must not wear wedged heels in front of the Queen, leaving Kate’s choice of footwear for royal occasions somewhat limited.

This is understood to be a matter of the Queen’s personal taste, rather than relying on tradition and all royals know to hide the wedges in the cupboard unless the event they are attending will not feature Her Majesty.

Kate Middleton has often been pictured favouring wedged shoes, especially in summer, rather than stilettos. But she too knows to avoid these when gracing an event with her grandmother-in-law.

There are plenty of other dress code rules that royals have to follow. Take a look at our list below to find out more.

1. Tiaras



The Queen attending a banquet at Claridges wearing her Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
The Queen attending a banquet at Claridges wearing her Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Traditionally, tiaras should only be worn by brides and married women. In the past they symbolised the transition from being unmarried to a loss of innocence and becoming a wife.

Things have moved on since then, but the royal family still abides this rule, with Kate and Meghan not seen in public with a tiara until their wedding day. There are a host of famous royal tiaras, but the Queen’s personal favourite is the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara.

2. Nail polish

It may seem such a small detail as nail polish can’t be dictated by royal tradition, but it turns out it is. Queen Elizabeth is always seen with her classic pale pink coloured nails, which reports suggest she has been exclusively wearing since 1989 – 33 years.

Kate Middleton is rarely seen with nail polish in public, but all members of the family are expected to wear pale, natural colours if they are to be seen out and about sporting it.

3. Shorts for young boys



Prince Louis is usually seen in shorts, while Kate is never seen with a dramatic plunging neckline.
Prince Louis is usually seen in shorts, while Kate is never seen with a dramatic plunging neckline.

Astonishingly, until very recently princes in the royal family were only allowed to be seen in dresses until the age of eight. Now this has evolved and in recent generations the young princes have been allowed to wear shorts instead.

But long trousers are still mainly kept for older children – although Prince Louis has occasionally been pictured in jeans or long trousers, the majority of the time he is seen in shorts which end just above the knee.

4. Modesty is key

Royal women are expected to watch their hemlines and necklines closely and have them monitored by members of the royal household. No cleavage is allowed, and hemlines should finish just above the knee or below. This is why even younger members of the royal family are seen in long dresses for official balls and events.

Princess Diana used to famously hold her clutch in front of her chest when climbing in and out of cars, in order to avoid any awkward photographs from waiting paparazzi. Following this trend, Kate is often pictured in chic high neck dresses with long sleeves, avoiding this risk altogether.

5. The Queen’s pop of colour



Her Majesty always wears bright colours when out on royal engagements.
Her Majesty always wears bright colours when out on royal engagements.

It’s no coincidence the Queen is so often pictured wearing bright colours. Contrasting with her subtle nail colour, her outfits are designed to stand out and make her easy for the public to spot.

According to wife of Edward the Countess of Wessex, Sophie, her outfits allow people to know for sure they have seen the Queen. Her Majesty has been seen in colours from bright pink, to bright yellow, and even deep red. Her coats in particular make everyone else’s outfits seem very dull!

6. Hats and headpieces

Royals should always wear hats or a headpiece in public, unless it is after 6pm, when married women can trade in a hat for a tiara.

But this rule is rather going out of fashion amongst younger royals, who prefer to only wear headpieces at important events and engagements such as weddings and attending the races.

7. Black is off limits, but should be kept on standby



The whole royal family traditionally wears black on Remembrance Sunday.
The whole royal family traditionally wears black on Remembrance Sunday.

One of the biggest faux-pas a royal can make is to wear all black outside of Remembrance Sunday or a period of mourning. But it is vital for all royals to pack a black outfit when travelling, just in case something happens to another family member while they are aware.

The Queen herself fell foul of this in 1952, when her father died while she was in Kenya. After arriving back in the UK, she had to wait inside the plane until she could have a black outfit delivered to her. Since then, all royals are believed to have a suitable outfit on standby.

8. Coats must not be removed outside

Royal women must commit to wearing a coat the whole time she is out in public, as removing it in the open air used to be seen as unladylike. Meghan was often pictured wearing thick coats outside, and the Queen of course always sports one in a colour that can be seen from quite a way away.

Kate is often pictured outside not wearing a coat – but she has not been seen to remove one she is already wearing. Perhaps the royal has found a sneaky way around this rule?

12. Shoes must shine

If you’ve not already gathered, the royals’ wardrobe is expected to be neat and perfect, right down to the shoes. Any type of footwear must be clean and kept looking fresh. Prince Charles reportedly likes his shoelaces to be ironed for this very reason.

Royals use insoles with slightly too big shoes for maximum comfort on long trips, and to avoid any uncomfortable blisters.

10. Take cues from those around you

Members of the royal family are expected to blend in when on royal visits in terms of the types of clothes they wear.

They often show their respect for foreign culture when visiting abroad by wearing national dress or something symbolic to that nation. Kate was seen sporting a maple leaf pin badge on a visit to Canada, and a head covering when visiting a mosque in India.

11. Natural make-up only



Kate is often seen sporting the natural look

Royals must have natural hair and make-up – so no dying your hair a wacky purple or blue if you are a royal teen. Hair may be worn up or down as long as it looks sleek and natural, and make-up should look effortlessly flawless, with no bright colours or edgy styles.



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Still want to be a royal?

With all these rules, it’s no wonder the royal family always look fashion forward, neat and tidy! There may be a lot of things to bear in mind, but younger members of the royal family are making their mark and slowly changing some traditions, or at least updating them. From Kate wearing the same clothes multiple times, to her son Louis being pictured in long trousers, these rules are clearly not as set in stone as the family might have you believe.

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