Why Royals Must Always Pack a Black Outfit in Their Luggage

It has to do with the Queen's sad experience over half a century ago.

victoria, bc september 24 prince william, duke of cambridge, catherine, duchess of cambridge, prince george of cambridge and princess charlotte of cambridge arrive at 443 maritime helicopter squadron near victoria international airport on september 24, 2016 in victoria, canada photo by dominic lipinski poolgetty images
(Image credit: Pool)

If you marry into the royal family, there are some serious rules to remember. Knowing when you’re allowed to eat (while the Queen is eating and not a moment after), whose permission you have before proposing marriage (the Queen’s, of course), and which flowers every bouquet has to contain (myrtle) are just the basics. A lot of royal protocols reflect safety concerns, while the rest seem...like they made sense at one point, but now they’re just done because they’ve always been?

When it comes to travel, the protocol tends to make a lot of sense—even if the reasons behind them are things the average person might not want to think about too much. Like when Prince William, Kate Middleton, and the three children took a secret trip last week? Yeah, they likely had to get permission from the Queen in order to travel on the same plane, because protocol states that all the heirs to the throne should be separated in case the worst should happen. That’s a fun thing to think about when boarding a plane, right?

Or the rule about what they have to pack on each trip, which also tracks (albeit in a sad way). According to Express, protocol says that royals must each pack a black outfit to wear whenever they go on vacation. The reason? In case there’s a last-minute funeral they have to attend, or if they need to appear in mourning.

7th february 1952 princess elizabeth is greeted by winston churchill on her return from africa following the death of her father george vi photo by keystonegetty images

(Image credit: Keystone)

Even if it seems like there’s a low percentage chance of that happening, it isn’t unprecedented: In fact, the rule stems from Queen Elizabeth II’s own experience of returning from a 1952 trip to Africa upon hearing the news that her father, King George IV, had died and she was about to be crowned Queen. According to the publication, the Queen had failed to pack anything black in her luggage, and knew that her departure from the plane would be greeted by dozens of photographers. She ended up having to send an aide to fetch clothes for her before she could get off the plane.

Now, because of that experience, the Queen insists everyone be ready for the worst at a moment’s notice—even if they’re on family vacation. You can totally see how something like that would stick with her, especially as a monarch who’s not allowed to have a hair out of place. It’s just a little glimpse into the huge amount of thought that goes into everything the royal family does.