8 Words You Will Never, Ever Hear the Royal Family Say

Some terms are considered too improper to be spoken by royalty. In her book "Watching the English", social anthropologist Kate Fox explains which words are banned from the royal family’s vocabulary and the surprising reasons why.

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Tea

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FYI, we’re talking about the meal, not the soothing, healthy drink. In many parts of the U.K., the evening meal that takes place between 5p.m. to 7p.m. is called tea. However, this term is typically associated with the working class. Members of upper social classes, including the royal family, call this meal dinner or supper.

Portion

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The royals don’t watch their portion sizes to lose weight. Instead, they watch their helping sizes, using another upper class term. Do you know the right serving sizes for your favorite foods? Take our portion distortion quiz to find out!

Pardon

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If and when (we can be optimistic!) you get the honor of meeting anyone in the royal family, you’ll want to act on your most polite behavior, excusing yourself when necessary. But whatever you do, don’t say “pardon.” We may think it’s formal, but apparently it’s like a curse word to the royals. Instead, say “sorry” or “sorry, what?” After all, it is the magic word that will make you more trustworthy.

Toilet

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Blame this word’s French origin for why it’s banned in royal circles. (However, everyone should know these important French phrases.) If you’re looking for a restroom in Buckingham Palace, ask for the loo or the lavatory.

Lounge

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While some Brits use the phrase “living room” to describe a main front room, the more common term is lounge. The royal family, on the other hand, uses neither. They refer to it as a drawing room or sitting room.

Perfume

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When your friend says she found the secret to making perfume last longer, stop her mid-sentence. The royals don’t say “perfume,” remind her. They say “scent,” as odd as that might sound. In the U.S., the only person we can imagine saying, “I love your scent” is an obsessed stalker, but maybe if we say it enough, we’ll get used to it. Maybe.

Posh

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Mark this as one of the British slang words you didn’t realize you knew. Sadly, the royal family doesn’t use it—nor does the rest of upper class society, even though their lifestyle is the epitome of the word. They replace posh with smart.

Mum and Dad

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Ma, Pops, Mommy, Daddy—We all had different names for our parents growing up, but for the most part, they turned into “Mom and Dad” as we got older. Not so for the royal family. They call their parents Mummy and Daddy even as adults. Isn’t it endearing to think of Prince Charles calling Queen Elizabeth Mummy? Find out whose mummy is whose with our breakdown of the royal family tree.

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