7 Words the Royal Family Simply Won’t Say

Some will probably shock you.

King Charles and Queen Camilla at Trooping the Colour
(Image credit: Getty)

Being a royal, as we all know, is a world unto itself. Royal protocol is steeped in manners, and, as such, The Mirror reports, there are seven words you’ll basically never hear a member of the royal family say. Social anthropologist Kate Fox walks us through it—and some words you might not expect to be all but banned.

King Charles

(Image credit: Getty)


“We’d always thought ‘pardon’ was more polite than the alternatives,” The Mirror writes. “Not being royal, however, we were wrong.” Apparently “pardon” is forbidden to use. Instead, if you didn’t quite catch what the royal you’re speaking to said, opt for “Sorry?” or even “Sorry, what?” “Or simply pretend you have heard with a nod and a smile,” The Mirror reports. “It may be for the best.” 

Prince William and Kate Middleton on the steps at a garden party

(Image credit: Getty)


This one is slightly more obvious. Instead of using “toilet,” royals use the word “loo” when they need to use the facilities. “‘Toilet’ is French by origin, so it is apparently avoided,” The Mirror writes. “So, if you’re ever wandering the vast corridors in Buckingham Palace, desperate for a tinkle, ask the nearest footman where the loo is.” Good to know.


Again, a head scratcher—what’s the matter with this word? “The royals don’t wear perfume,” The Mirror writes. “They wear scent.” Interesting. 

Queen Camilla

(Image credit: Getty)


Okay, now come on. If there were any word we’d expect to not be banned by the British royal family (!) it’d probably be tea, right? After all, what’s more British than that? According to Fox, one surefire way of outing yourself as decidedly non-royal is to refer to your evening meal as “tea.” If you do want to convince one you’re blue-blooded, apparently change your vernacular to “dinner” or “supper.” 

Princess Beatrice

(Image credit: Getty)


Inside palace walls there are many rooms, but none of them is a lounge (or a living room). That’s not because such rooms with that same intent don’t exist in the royal stratosphere; it’s simply because they’re referred to as “drawing rooms” or “sitting rooms.” And, by the way, there are no couches in their sitting rooms—only sofas (or thrones, as The Mirror rightly points out). 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold hands in black tie

(Image credit: Getty)


“The first rule of being posh?” The Mirror asks. “You never refer to someone—or yourself—as being posh.” Instead, you’re “smart,” Fox said. 

Princess Eugenie smiles at the Christmas carol concert

(Image credit: Getty)


It’s certainly not that the royals don’t eat this exclamation point on the meal, but instead of calling it “dessert,” they refer to it as “pudding.”

Don’t say you didn’t learn anything new today!

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.