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8 Bizarre Superstitions of the British Royal Family

Updated: May 04, 2023

The British royal family abides by many well-known traditions—but they are also said to believe in some strange superstitions.

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Queen Elizabeth II

Their coronation

A British monarch’s coronation day is a joyous occasion—but it also carries a lot of pressure. If something goes wrong during the coronation ceremony, royal superstition considers it to be a bad omen for the sovereign. Any mishaps would predict an unsuccessful reign. (Learn the etiquette rules everyone in the royal family must follow.)

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Kate Middleton's engagement ring which belonged to Princess Diana
Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Their gemstones

The gorgeous sapphire spotted on Princess Diana’s (now Kate Middleton’s) engagement ring isn’t just there for decoration. Since medieval times, royal jewelry has sparkled with gemstones believed to hold mythical powers. Sapphires, in particular, are known to deepen devotion and loyalty, as well as bring financial prosperity and stability. Superstitious Queen Victoria wore a sapphire on her wedding day, too.

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Ravens From The Tower Of London For Feature On Derrick Coyle (not Shown) Raven Master 1995. 493 3250 2014 0752.
Mike Hollist/Shutterstock

Their ravens

For more than 300 years, exactly six to seven ravens have lived in the Tower of London. Why, you ask? King Charles II insisted on protecting the Tower’s feathered residents, who he believed would preserve both the nation and its monarchy. In fact, according to a long-standing superstition, “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.” Visitors can stop by the ravens’ quarters to this day.

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Keys to the Tower of London

Their keys

Another fascinating ritual associated with the Tower of London is called the Ceremony of the Keys. Each day before 10 p.m., a ceremonial guardian (also known as a Beefeater) and a military escort walk throughout the Tower and lock every gate. While modern security systems have been installed since then, the 700-year-old ceremony is performed to protect the Tower, which guards the Crown Jewels, against nighttime intruders and thieves.

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth Ii Departs Buckingham Palace with Her Husband Prince Philip on Her Way to Parliament in London Britain 25 May 2010 Prime Minister David Cameron's Coalition Government is Due to Outline what Laws It Wants to Pass in the Next Year when the Queen's Speech is Delivered to Parliament 25 May Measures Are Set to Include the Repeal of Id Cards Powers For Parents to Set Up Schools Reforms to Policing and a Referendum on the Voting System United Kingdom London
Andy Rain/Shutterstock

Their hostages

The State Opening of Parliament marks the beginning of a U.K. Parliamentary session—but to kick off the festivities, a rather strange tradition must occur. Before Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the ceremony, the Royal Household takes a Member of Parliament as a hostage. This ritual started as a way to ensure the sovereign’s safety during the visit, especially when the monarch and Parliament were in conflict. The hostage usually stays at Buckingham Palace until the Queen returns. Don’t miss more bizarre perks of the British royal family.

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YEARENDER 2017 NOVEMBER Britain's Prince Harry pose with Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace in London, Britain, 27 November. Clarence House earlier 27 November 2017 announced the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. 'His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle. The wedding will take place in Spring 2018. Further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course.' the statement said.

Their weddings

Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle have proven they are not afraid to go against the royal grain. But one otherwise non-controversial decision—their wedding date—might have ruffled Queen Victoria’s feathers. Turns out, the late monarch did not approve of May weddings; she considered it unlucky to marry in the fifth month of the calendar year. As the superstitious rhyme goes, “Marry in May, and rue the day.” Here are 12 more times the royal family has broken their own protocol.

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St George's Hall, Windsor Castle, England, Britain
Mike Forster/Shutterstock

Their ghosts

The British royals have a fair share of ghosts lurking throughout their castle halls. For instance, the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn is said to haunt her childhood home, Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Every year on May 19 (the anniversary of her execution), she has allegedly been spotted riding in a phantom coach drawn by four headless horses and a headless horseman, holding her severed head in her lap. Others claim Anne’s spirit haunts Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, too. Skeptical? These chilling, real ghost stories will make you believe.

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Westminster Abbey. One of the painted sedilia to the right of the high altar. Erected during the reign of Edward I, it has portraits of several kings including Edward the Confessor holding out the ring to pilgrims. Country of Origin: England. Date/Period: 13th century. Place of Origin: London.
Werner Forman Archive/Shutterstock

Their royal touch

Edward the Confessor, ruler of England from 1042 to 1066, was reportedly the first monarch to practice “the royal touch.” During this healing ritual, the sovereign would place his hands on a sick person to cure them. At the time, it was believed that monarchs possessed healing powers thanks to their divine appointment from God. (Superstitions aside, you will never, ever hear the royal family say these eight words.)