Members of the Royal Family Can’t Celebrate Halloween Publicly Because of a Rule Set by Queen Victoria

Protocol strikes again.

Princess Charlotte with her head in her hands at Wimbledon
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While the Prince and Princess of Wales (nearly obsessive about creating as normal of a childhood as possible for their three kids), still take their kids trick-or-treating on Halloween—they did so as recently as last year—royals, though able to take part in Halloween privately, aren’t able to celebrate the holiday publicly.

It all comes down to a rule from Queen Victoria, on the throne from 1837 to 1901, who set a strict code of conduct that the royal family should constantly “uphold total class and sophistication,” The Daily Express reports. (For what it’s worth, Queen Victoria actually was a fan of Halloween herself, as was Queen Elizabeth.) This meant that the royal family should have “complete self-respect and good behavior when in front of the general public,” which included not dressing up for Halloween, royal expert Christina Reeves said. 

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis together

(Image credit: Getty)

In 1941, the then-Princess Elizabeth dressed up for a performance of Cinderella at Windsor Castle, though she did stop wearing costumes after she became queen in 1952, the outlet reports. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also had a particularly special Halloween back in 2016, where the new couple—who had been together about four months—celebrated with Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie and her then-boyfriend (now husband) Jack Brooksbank in Toronto, where Meghan was living at the time filming Suits.

“He [Harry] came to see me in Toronto and our friends and his cousin Eugenie and now her husband, Jack, they came as well,” Meghan said on The Ellen Show. “And the four of us snuck out in Halloween costumes to just have one fun night on the town before it was out in the world that we were a couple.”

“So you went with Harry to a Halloween party, and they had no idea it was the two of you?” Ellen DeGeneres asked Meghan. “It was a post-apocalypse theme,” Meghan said. “So we all had this very bizarre costuming on, and we were able to just sort of have one final night out.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in love at the Invictus Games 2023

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Wales trio—Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis—may be royal, but they’re also the grandchildren of one Carole Middleton, founder of Party Pieces, who loves a good holiday probably more than the bulk of us. Last year, Middleton posted on social media that “Halloween is an Autumn highlight for me. I can still remember the fun and frights from my own childhood; the chance to dress up, decorate pumpkins and go trick-or-treating! I’ve even grown my own pumpkins this year, so I’m looking forward to decorating those with my loved ones.”

No doubt those “loved ones” likely include her now seven grandchildren—daughter Kate’s three kids, daughter Pippa’s three kids, and now son James’ firstborn, Inigo, who was born just a few weeks ago. The Daily Express reports that Kate’s parents “live at Bucklebury Manor in Berkshire, which is close to where the royal lives with her family in Windsor. The Grade II-listed Georgian property boasts 18 acres of grounds, so there is plenty of space [for] lots of pumpkin picking.” 

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis together

(Image credit: Getty)

Halloween preparations are no doubt deeply underway with Kate and her mom; George, Charlotte, and Louis return to Lambrook School tomorrow as their half-term break is now over, and Halloween is the next day, on Tuesday. While we won’t see any public photos of their costumes, we know that Kate has gone shopping for the kids’ costumes in the past—and can only wonder what the three will opt to dress up as this year.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.