13 Food Rules You'd Have To Follow To Dine With The Royals

If you enjoy high-pressure events, you may want to sign up to dine with the royals. Just try to get on the list before it reaches number 13, or Queen Elizabeth would have refused to seat you. We'll see if King Charles feels the same way. You see, the late Queen understood that in some cultures, the number 13 is seen as unlucky. Out of respect for those cultures, she was okay with seating fewer than 13 guests, or more than 13 — but never 13 right on the dot. How thoughtful is that? 

Also, although the beloved Queen was strict about what she ate (as is the entire royal family), she did have some favorites she'd occasionally indulge in, including pot roast, plenty of chocolate (she was considered a chocoholic), and even a good old fashioned tuna fish sandwich now and then. Still, you'd likely see something more formal as a dinner guest. Rules are to be followed when dining with the royals. It's a bit like a fairytale, but also not the most relaxing meal one could enjoy. Follow along as we uncover the proper royal dining etiquette that's lasted for centuries.

Wait your turn

Don't rush into the room unless you're next in line for the throne. Entrance into the dining room goes according to who will be crowned next. According to CBS News, today the order would be King Charles III, then Prince William, and it goes on from there. Sorry — you are probably getting seated last. No offense.

Even though there are strict rules about the order of entrance into something formal like a dinner full of guests, the royal family is only human, and they do have their moments of being more casual and even foregoing the entrance rule. Marlene Koenig, the founder of the Royal Musings blog, explained to BAZAAR that "a true order of precedence really only takes shape at state and diplomatic events." The rules are "much more formal" at such festivities. Another interesting note is that when it comes to weddings, the monarch purposely arrives fashionably late, just before the bride. 

Take your cue from the King

When in doubt, do what the King does. We've all been there. You're at a formal event and you forget what's coming next or what's allowed. Well, the next time you're dining with the royals just look to the King for clues on how you should behave. Not sure if it's okay to pick up your fork and dig in? Check out what King Charles III is doing. If he is enjoying his food, then you can as well. 

Or how about the tone for the evening? The monarch often literally holds the weight of the world upon his shoulders. It's probably best to take a tone cue from him when it comes to how you'll carry on a conversation while dining. Don't share your silliest joke with the diplomat next to you if the King is having a somber conversation with the person to his right. You most likely won't be invited back again.

Just say no to garlic

The Queen despised garlic and so does King Charles. You won't find it in any royal meal ... ever. The reason is that garlic gives any human — yes, even members of the royal family — bad breath. It may seem a bit drastic — after all, what is life without garlic? However, the monarchy is constantly meeting people from all over the world. They must put on a smile and make conversation even on days they'd rather stay inside donning some sweatpants. Therefore, they avoid stinky garlic. Note to self — don't bring a garlicky dish to the royal potluck. 

There are some other foods that King Charles will not eat that you won't see when dining with the royals. Believe it or not, he doesn't like chocolate. Yes, you read that correctly. King Charles can live without chocolate and appears to not take after his mother, who simply adored the stuff. They say mother knows bestso let's just leave it at that. Also, since we're in England, cookies are called biscuits, and most people simply grab one and dip it in their tea. King Charles, however, expects his biscuit to be warmed first. 

Interestingly, there is one food that King Charles has banned from the palace and all royal meals — foie gras. It may be considered a delicacy, but the King isn't impressed. The force-feeding of the birds during the process seems unethical to King Charles III and it's tough to not love him for it.

No shouting across the table

During a royal meal, you are expected to quietly talk with the person next to you, not anyone across the table, or worse, on the other end of the table. The Queen, and now King Charles, carefully selects who sits where, and they will be seated next to someone they intend to have a purposeful conversation with. If you've been saving that great one-liner for years just waiting for a chance to share it at the table with the royal family, keep saving it. If you aren't seated to the King's left or right, you most likely won't be enjoying a conversation with him. It's not like Aunt Edna's house where everyone just keeps getting louder at the table so they can all be heard. 

During the first course of the royal meal, the monarch converses with the person to their right. The person on their left is then pulled into conversation with the monarch during the second course. Imagine being one of those people and having to wonder why the King chose you for conversation. 

Mind your manners

Even for those who will never dine with royalty, this one goes without saying. Unless it's BBQ chicken or something of the sort, please don't eat with your hands. As Darren McGrady told Insider, "Her Majesty's Victorian upbringing dictates that the only thing you would pick up and eat with your fingers is afternoon tea." The royals frown upon eating a meal without utensils. If there's no eating food with your fingers, does that mean no pizza? Sadly, yes. King Charles won't be ordering a pizza when he gets a hankering for it at midnight, although technically he could if he were willing to eat it with a fork and if the sauce contained no garlic. Might as well have a burger instead.

Still, there is one food that the King will happily break a couple of rules fo: oysters. He loves oysters and although his mother banned them from being eaten in public due to the fact that they can make you very ill if the oysters aren't any good, King Charles just can't seem to resist them and willingly eats oysters with a squeeze of lemon and his bare hands, per Hello Magazine

If for some reason the royal family serves you ribs while dining with them, though, good luck. You'll need to make the best of it with your fork and knife. And for everyone's sake, please do not chew with your mouth open. It's a big no-no when dining with the royal family, and hopefully, it's a big no-no in your everyday life as well.

Fold your napkin and lay it in your lap

Just as your mother taught you, there will be no crumpling of your messy napkin and laying it on the table or sporting the lovely linen as a bib when dining with the royal family. MyLondon explains that the royal family members are trained to simply fold their napkin in half and place it on their knees when seated at the table. They fold the napkin again as each area is used. They don't want the spot where they wiped their mouth to show, because yuck ... that would show the world what a messy royal eater you are. The fold also protects royal dining guests from getting something greasy on their clothing. 

And just as you would use proper napkin etiquette at a fancy restaurant or maybe even at home if you're feeling prim and proper, never return the napkin to the table or plate unless you are finished eating. As a matter of fact, doing so will signal you are finished, and the royal server may come and grab your plate.

Leave your casual wear at home

Sweats are great for a holiday meal, but if you're with the royal family it's not going to happen. Formal attire is expected at royal meals. There have always been and still are strict rules to follow when it comes to clothing options while dining with the royal family. The rules aren't just for large formal affairs either; they also apply to family gatherings at mealtime. Although formal attire changes for different occasions, in general, for dinner, the ladies wear a dress and stockings, and the men wear trousers and a coat. 

If you happen to get the invite to dine with the royal family and aren't sure if you're underdressed or overdressed, it's best to go with the overdressed option. You won't be judged for being too formal, but you may be judged for looking like you made little effort. Lucy Hume tells the Independent, traditional and simple are best when it comes to royal dining. In other words, don't try to impress the King with your new line of crocheted pants. Stick with formal traditional clothing choices.

Hold your silverware correctly

Your mother may have taught you how to set the table, but have you ever had a lesson in how to hold your fork like royalty? When dining with the royals you'll notice that forks are held in the left hand and knives are held in the right hand. The tines of the fork are pointed down. Here's the unique part – they do not stab their food. Instead, food is placed on the backside of the fork, using the knife to help them get it there, and it's then balanced as they slowly and carefully bring the upside-down fork to their mouth. Wow. This seems a bit complicated. Still, it's how they've been doing it for generations and the upside-down fork trick is still going strong. Are we all wondering the same thing? How do they eat peas? 

One utensil you won't ever see at the palace is a fish knife. Maybe you've never seen one in your own home either. A fish knife is used to remove the bones from a fish before eating it. Hello! explains that at one time the fish knife was declared too commonplace for royalty. At least it's one less utensil to worry about holding properly. 

Only one lipstick mark allowed

Feel free to wear your bright red lipstick to royal dinner; however, be prepared to drink from only one side of your cup. It isn't considered ladylike to advertise your lipstick color to everyone at the table, other than what they are able to see on your lips. And it's not just those wearing lipstick. Everyone is expected to drink from only one side of the cup or glass so as not to cause anyone to see a mark from their mouth — the horror!

This strict dining rule goes for any type of cup they are drinking from, whether it's water, wine, a cocktail, tea, or coffee. That means even King Charles' special martini glass must be kept free of lip marks as he enjoys his favorite drink at the end of a long day. He's known for indulging in a martini now and then and he even sometimes brings his own glass, often with a prepared martini already in it, to dinner parties. The King is cooler than you thought.

Pinky in when holding a teacup

When using a teacup at the royal dining table, don't fall for the incorrect notion that it's proper to extend your pinky finger whilst drinking tea. Unfortunately, many Americans are easily spotted in England by the fact that they stick their pinky out while holding a teacup. It isn't what royalty does, although we've been led to believe so in movies and such. 

When it comes to the "pinky out" trope, the truth is, it's the opposite of what royalty prefers. The royal family feels sticking your pinky out while enjoying your tea looks rude and isn't courteous. It exudes an air of snobbishness and almost mockery, both of those in your immediate company as well as any onlookers. When dining with the royal family, you are likely to experience tea, so do all of those around you a favor and don't extend your pinky.

Properly excuse yourself

It's fine to use the restroom during a meal — just don't announce it to the world. We are all human, and even the royal family uses the loo now and then. Still, there is a time and a place to let the group know you're heading to the restroom. The royal dining room isn't one of those places. 

It's best to politely say, "excuse me" and get up and leave. Don't make a scene out of it. Perhaps this is a piece of royal etiquette we could all practice. Does anyone ever really need to know we are leaving the table because we need to use the restroom? 

Once finished, quietly return to your seat and look around to see what everyone is doing. Remember, you must take your cue from the King, and you never know, they may have moved on to another course or finished eating while you were away.

Make it clear when you're done eating

Don't shout across the table to let the King know your tummy is full. Instead, set your fork and knife in the appropriate pattern. As you know, there isn't a lot of "finger-licking good" food around the royal palace. Even if the monarch gets a craving for a burger, they must eat it with a fork and knife. Silverware seems to play quite an important role with the royals. It tells a lot, from how well you balance food on the backside of a fork to how you politely announce you are finished with your meal. 

The servers get their cue that they may clear your place when they see a set of silverware laid on the plate, both pieces straight and together, from the top to the bottom of the plate. If you imagine the plate as a clock, the silverware would look like 6:00, with both handles pointing toward the bottom. Certainly, you are just as specific at dinnertime in your home. Now, if you need to set your silverware down while dining with the royals but are not yet finished devouring your meal, simply crisscross your fork and knife across your plate like the letter x and your server will understand you are just taking a break. 

Stop eating when the King stops eating

That steak may be delicious, but when the King is done eating, so are you. It's not that King Charles is selfish and needs everyone's attention. The monarchy simply has age-old traditions, and one of them is that when the Queen or King has finished their meal, so has everyone else. 

The Queen was infamous for sort of pushing food around on her plate once she was full so that others could continue to finish their meal. How sweet is that? She had other kind habits as well, including a time when a dinner guest got carried away with excitement when some fruit and cream was nearby and unknowingly put it in his finger bowl. As he began to bring the bowl to his lips to enjoy the cream, he looked to the queen and realized he'd made an embarrassing faux pas. The Queen, in her gentle way, reacted with kindness as always. According to Hello! Magazine a former royal butler Paul Burrow said the Queen in turn grabbed her own finger bowl. The royal family may be a noble, high-society bunch with a ridiculous amount of rules to remember while dining; however, it seems they also have kind hearts, enjoy a good cocktail now and then, and sometimes they may even bend a rule here and there to accommodate guests and enjoy life a bit.