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15 British Royal Family Travel Secrets You Never Knew

Updated: Dec. 01, 2022

You’ll envy their sweet travel perks, but you’ll also want to steal a few of their nifty travel tips for your next trip!

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They must learn how to greet people in multiple languages

As representatives of the United Kingdom and British monarchy, it is essential that each royal learns the basic greetings in each country’s native language before they visit. “The internal palace aids will always be on hand to prepare each royal before an important visit,” says Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette. “It is the correct protocol to practice the etiquette of the country or culture you are visiting, in order to show respect, so each royal knows how to make the best first impression.” Check out these 14 other etiquette rules that every royal must follow.


They pack supplies of their own blood

A personal blood bag doesn’t usually make your packing checklist for trips, but for the royals anything is possible. According to the Telegraph, the queen and her son Prince Charles always bring their own personal bags of blood with them to countries where the blood supply is questionable. But in order to do an blood transfusion, you need to have a doctor on hand, which is why a Royal Navy doctor accompanies every royal on his or her trip for emergencies.

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They take extremely short trips

From a commoner’s point-of-view, the royals have a pretty cool job that lets them fly to countries all across the globe from Australia to Sweden. But the reality is that they don’t get to sightsee as much as you’d think. If anything, these fun getaways are nothing more than your average business trip. “Touring the world meeting heads of state and being shown cultural treasures sounds like a wonderful life,” Gordon Rayner, a royal tour veteran reporter, told the Telegraph. “Yet I have no envy for the royal family. Their visits to world-famous sites rarely last more than 40 minutes.” Prince William and Kate’s Boston trip is their latest short-lived international trip.


They BYOB (Bring Your Own Booze)

Instead of starting a bar tab, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker-Bowles usually bring their own secret stash of booze for trips—gin and tonic for him and red wine for her. “They sometimes take their own alcohol so there’s no danger of their drinks being spiked,” Rayner told the Express. “Their police bodyguard will discreetly carry a bag of their drinks.”


They always pack a black outfit

No, the royals don’t pack a black outfit for a black-tie affair. It’s actually a precautionary measure for in case a loved one dies while they’re abroad. This royal protocol is to ensure that the royal family members are appropriately dressed in the traditional mourning attire when they return to the United Kingdom. In 1952, Queen Elizabeth II was touring Kenya with Prince Philip when she got word that her father King George VI died. Unfortunately, she made a big mistake—neglecting to pack a black dress. Upon her return to the motherland, she couldn’t leave the plane until a member of her staff had properly delivered a black dress for her to wear off the flight. Here are 10 more dress code rules that everyone in the royal family must abide by.

The queen never leaves home without her jet lag remedy in hand

As the United Kingdom’s longest reigning monarch, let’s just say that Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t exactly bounce back from jet lag at 91 as well as she did in her youth. Before every trip, the queen always stocks up on barley sugar to quell her exhaustion and fatigue from jet setting to different time zones. “What the queen is doing by having barley sugar is essentially using her body’s sugar metabolic pathways to help adjust her body clock,” Nick Knight, PhD, a specialist in lifestyle medicine, told the Telegraph. If barley sugar doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, Knight says you can re-synchronize your body clock by keeping your “eating and sleeping habits in line with your new destination’s time zone—both en route and on arrival.”

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No two royal heirs can ever travel together

Although it’s not official royal protocol, it’s technically standard royal practice for the heirs to the throne to travel separately just in case of a fatal accident to preserve royal lineage. Of course, Prince William and Kate Middleton have broken that rule numerous times as they disembark the same plane with their wee ones Prince George and Princess Charlotte in hand. “While there is no official rule on this, it is something that the Queen has the final say on,” a royal spokesman once said according to the Sun. In recent years, the queen has become much more lenient in regards to this ‘rule’ because the tradition started in the earlier days of air travel when it was much riskier to fly.


They need to go through immigration just like the rest of us

A person bearing the title of “Royal Highness” may give him or her a lot of privileges, but exclusion from every country’s standard customs procedures is not one of them. Every royal member is even required to have a passport, that is, except for Queen Elizabeth II. She gets to bypass this stipulation because the United Kingdom passports are issued in her name, according to the royals’ official website. Despite her special treatment, she still has to go through an identity check when she’s flying in and out of the U.K.—even if her name and face is plastered all over the country. Learn the 8 words you’ll never, ever hear the British royals say.


They color-code their luggage

The royal aides keep the British monarchy organized in their travels using a color-coded luggage tag system. The queen often gets a big yellow tag labelled “The Queen” and Kate Middleton will even get yellow sometimes. Prince William and Prince Charles typically don red on their luggage, Princess Anne has green, and Prince George gets blue, according to the Express.


They have a huge travel budget

The royal family spent $5.8 million in travel fees alone in 2017, according to Hello! magazine. You could buy a home that looks like an English Manor in Atlanta, Georgia for that price! In fact, In fact, a single trip for the royals can cost up to six figures. Prince Charles wins the award for “Most Expensive Royal Family Trip” when he visited Italy, Romania, and Austria in 2016—a trip that totaled just under $200,000. But most of the royal expenditures go towards flights on the queen’s helicopter or aircraft charters for overseas visits, according to this book. These are 15 perks of being a member of the royal family.


They travel with an entourage

Most people fly solo or with friends and family, but the British royals must bring their full-blown entourage with them everywhere they go—think press officers, secretaries, hairdressers, bodyguards, valets, professional stylists, and royal nannies. In fact, the Queen’s royal entourage typically includes a whopping 34 people, while Prince William and Kate Middleton travel a bit more modestly with only about a dozen royal staff members, according to the Telegraph.


Duplicates of every outfit are a must

The queen’s personal assistant and curator of the royal wardrobe, Angela Kelly, always packs a duplicate outfit for the queen’s trips, according to the Daily Mail. For those of us who have to pay more money to check-in an additional bag at the airport, packing duplicate outfits seems a bit excessive. But when you’re the queen of England, it’s essential to be prepared for fashion emergencies such as accidental spills or stains because no one wants to greet the Prime Minister of Canada with a huge spaghetti stain on their blazer.

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They fly commercial

The royal family flies commercial just like the rest of us sometimes—and here is what you should do if you ever meet a royal. Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton have been known to travel on commercial flights like British Airways, their most preferred airline, Ryanair, and American Airlines. But don’t get your hopes up about spotting the queen on your next flight; she no longer takes scheduled flights. And her husband, Prince Philip, isn’t a fan of flying economy. The Telegraph reported that he told the Aircraft Research Association in 2002, “If you travel as much as we do, you appreciate the improvements in aircraft design of less noise and more comfort—provided you don’t travel in something called economy class, which sounds ghastly.”

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Tea tree oil is a travel necessity

She may not be a royal yet, but the duchess-to-be, Meghan Markle, has a little product she never travels without—tea tree oil. “The one thing that I cannot live without when I’m traveling is a small container of tea tree oil,” Markle told Allure. “It’s not the most glamorous thing, but if you get a cut, a mosquito bite, a small breakout, no matter what it is, it’s my little cure-all.” And it’s even small enough to stow away in your carry-on and meets all TSA requirements! Take a look at this easy chart that breaks down the entire British royal family tree.


They follow a rigorous schedule

There’s no room for spontaneity for the royals when every minute of their day is planned down to the second. Their aides carry around a spiral-bound notebook filled with detailed itineraries to stay informed of the day’s events, according to the Telegraph. Read on for the 12 times the royal family broke it’s own protocol.