When you were young, your parents probably taught you that it was impolite to use certain words, especially profanities. While the royal family would never be caught using foul language in public, there are also other terms — seemingly innocuous ones, we might add — that they wouldn't dare utter.
Royal watchers such as social anthropologist Kate Fox have studied the particulars of royal etiquette, and they've discovered certain terms that the family avoids in order to maintain their aristocratic sensibility. According to Fox, using any of these off-limit words would instantly give away our less-than-noble birth.
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Words the Royal Family Can't Say
Pardon: The idea of speaking to royalty is enough to make anyone trip over their words, but don't expect to hear any mention of "sorry" or "pardon" if the prince or princess you're talking to doesn't catch everything you've said. If Prince William missed something, his simple response would be "What?" In this regard, Prince William doesn't seem so different from us after all.
Toilet: Should Duchess Kate need to relive herself, she would never inform company she was off to the "toilet," "ladies," or even "bathroom," says royal etiquette expert Myka Meier. Instead, Kate’s word of choice would likely be "lavatory." How British!
Couch: There must be hundreds of rooms in the dozens of royal residences, which means a lot of couches. But Queen Elizabeth would never invite you to sit on a "sofa" with her. Rather, she might ask you to join her on the "settee" or "couch."
Mom and Dad: You call your parents mom and dad, right? Not if you're a royal. To Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip are simply "mummy" and "daddy." (Prince Charles cheekily referred to his mother as "mummy" at her 92nd birthday party rather than "Your Majesty" and received a sassy eyebrow raise in return.)
Living Room: Of course, "living room" is probably too modest a word for the extravagant spaces in Buckingham Palace. If you wandered those halls, you'd be likely to stumble upon an array of "drawing rooms" and "sitting rooms," but no "lounges," "dens," or comfy "living rooms." Maybe we're just not sophisticated enough, but saying "living room" feels so much comfier than "drawing room" or "sitting room."
Perfume: Princess Diana's wedding fragrance (which Kate Middleton sweetly honored on the day of her own nuptials) is now insanely popular, but you'd be wrong to refer to it as "perfume." A true royal would call it a "scent."
Posh: If you’ve ever used this term to describe the royal family, you should be a bit embarrassed. Fox says that the correct word to describe high society is "smart," as "posh" can be seen as insulting: "In upper-middle and upper-class circles, 'posh' can only be used ironically, in a jokey tone, to show that you know it's a low-class word." Oops!
Patio: Enjoying the outdoors with the kids is definitely a priority for Prince William and Duchess Kate! On a pleasant afternoon, the whole family will lounge on the "terrace," not the "patio."
But don't feel bad if these words are part of your vocabulary. All you have to do is avoid mentioning these terms and you'll be one step closer to sounding like a royal. Now, the only thing left is to work on that British accent.
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