15 Times Prince William Broke Royal Protocol

Kweli Wright | Mar 27, 2020 Celebrities
15 Times Prince William Broke Royal Protocol
Image: Chris Jackson/AFP via Getty Images

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, hugs a runner during the 2017 London Marathon
Chris Jackson/AFP via Getty Images

As second in the line of succession to the British throne, Prince William, 37, has a vast array of personal and professional responsibilities. Being a member of the royal family, the son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, a big part of being in the family is following rules and presenting a perfect image to the public. William has not had many days out of the spotlight. As a youngster, Prince William was known to have an assuredness beyond his years. Also as the eldest child, William has always been looked at as the responsible big brother. And as an adult, never forgetting his royal status, the Duke of Cambridge is just as confident and humble. Destined to be King, he also has to be serious and follow protocol. 

What we'll all notice, though, is when Prince William shines the most is when he's relaxed and enjoying traveling, sports, or just being with his family. Will is obviously great at making people feel special and wants to let them know that they are seen, no matter the circumstance, and we love him for that. As a member of the royal family, he has many rules to follow and protocol to adhere to, and we often see it in action.

But sometimes, rules are made to be bent a bit. 

William handles every encounter with the public with patience and openness. And when he's with his family -- wife Kate, and kids George, Charlotte and Louis -- he's fully engaged. Royalty or not, William seems like just a great guy. So, enjoy 15 times Prince William broke all the royal rules while giving hugs, feeling the love, and spreading joy. 

  • Going to Public School

    Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Prince William first day of school
    Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images
    Prince William has been bucking royal tradition since his earliest days. His mom, Princess Diana, was known for being hands-on. She took them to amusement parks, they ate at fast food restaurants together and, what was most surprising, she sent them to public school. At age 3, Prince William started at Mrs. Jane Mynor’s nursery school, becoming the first heir to the British throne to not start his education within the palace. His little brother, Prince Harry, later joined him at the same nursery school. 

  • Leaving the Palace After Losing His Mom

    Princess Diana and Prince William
    Georges de Keerle/Getty Images
    The entire world grieved over the loss of Princess Diana. Prince William and Prince Harry still keep their mother’s memory alive, but at the time of her passing, no one had a harder time coping. After her death was announced, Queen Elizabeth took William and Harry -- along with other members of the Royal family, to the Balmoral estate -- 500 miles away from the palace. She also made sure no newspapers would show up at the premises. The public was furious that the royals would leave their subjects after such a tragedy, but the Queen wanted the boys to have time to grieve in peace.

  • Comforting a Commoner


    This one brings tears to our eyes. In June 2017, Prince William and the Queen visited a crisis center where survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire were being treated. The deadly blaze destroyed the West London apartment complex and killed 79 people. At the center, William met a woman trying to find her husband who’d been trapped in the burning building. The royal code states that male members of the royal family should be greeted with a nod or “neck bow.” As the Daily Mail explains, that didn’t happen: "The woman sobbed into the concerned Prince's chest as he put his arms around her and told her he would do everything he could to help find her loved one."

  • Hugging Chewbacca

    Prince William is hugged by Chewbacca during a tour of the Star Wars sets 2016
    Adrian Dennis-WPA Pool/Getty Images

    Yes, this actually happened. 

    Among the royal family’s important jobs is recognizing talented Brits who are doing their country proud. Apparently, that includes getting behind-the-scenes access to one of the biggest movie franchises ever. Princes William and Harry got a special tour of the Star Wars: Episode VIII set in England while it was being filmed. Between chatting with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega and meeting BB-8, they got big Wookie hugs from Chewbacca. They also had their own lightsaber battle. 


    We would have loved to be on hand to see that!

  • Doing the Wave (Gasp!) With His Wife

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    As spectators at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Prince William and Kate Middleton sat in the stadium crowd. While attending the equestrian event, the couple held hands, screamed, and did the wave in a rare, but welcome, show of his more relaxed side. 

    Party over here!

  • Celebrating With Hugs at the 2012 Olympics 

    Prince William and Kate at the 2012 Olympic Games August 2012 in London
    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
    How cute are they?! When England won an event at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Prince William and Kate could be spotted in the stands in an embrace. They looked absolutely thrilled, and we can practically hear Prince William screaming,”Woooooo!” How many times have we all cheered in the stands at a sporting event with our partner, kids, family, and friends -- and never had to consider breaking protocol?

  • Embracing Kate on a Hilltop

    Prince William and Kate in Dublin Ireland March 2020
    Tim Rooke/Pool/Samir Hussein/Getty Images

    During a March visit to Dublin, Ireland, Prince William and Kate were photographed visiting a farm, a pub, and a few other locations. But it wasn't until they arrived at Howth Cliff Walk, a gorgeous mountainside, that they were captured in an embrace. Taking in the beautiful view, we can't blame the couple for wanting to get a little closer. 

  • Traveling as a Family 

    Prince William, Kate, George and Charlotte board a plane leaving Poland in 2017
    Omar Marques/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also break royal protocol when they travel together as a family of five instead of separately. The parents have been known to fly with Prince George, 6, and Princess Charlotte, 4, in the past few years -- although we haven't seen them fly as a family since Louis was born in 2018. According to The Sun, royal protocol states that Prince William should not travel on the same mode of transportation as another heir to the throne, but the Queen has been more relaxed about this since air travel is much safe than it was decades ago.

    This tradition was put into effect many years ago when the royal family began to travel by air. It's a precaution to protect the King and Queen and their families. A spokesperson for the royal family has previously said, "While there is no official rule, it is something that the Queen has the final say on."

  • Hugging Another William in Africa


    We're sure the Queen forgave Prince William breaking protocol this time. During a 2018 trip to Kenya, he visited a local soccer team. As he met members of the team, one player shared that his name was also William. What happened next? Hugs, of course. The scene was shared on the Kensington Palace twitter page and aptly titled "William meets Prince William" Heart eyes emoji!

  • Disciplining the Kids

    Prince William and Prince George
    Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images

    Parenting in the public eye isn't easy, especially when it comes to getting kids -- who might want to test boundaries just because -- to behave well for all to see. And for William, sometimes those moments happen during special events ... and on camera. Here, we imagine that he is telling little George to calm down and get it together fast. 

    We can all relate.

  • Taking a Selfie


    Members of the royal family generally don't take selfies with fans, but William made the best exception in March 2020 during a visit to Ireland. A fan patiently waited to meet him, and Prince William sweetly obliged with a selfie with a girl named Jennifer. Word is that selfies are against royal protocol. (Supposedly, it's because the Queen wants to be able to make eye contact with the people she meets, which is impossible if both people interacting with each other are looking at a screen.) Also, when the royals are out in public, they're working, so it may distract them from their responsibilities to stop and pose for those kinds of photos.

  • A Hongi Traditional Greeting in New Zealand


    A gesture of respect, the hongi is a traditional Maori greeting done by pressing the nose and forehead against someone else’s. Prince William embraced the tradition on his trip to New Zealand and reminded us of the gentle spirit his mother always displayed. It’s the equivalent of doing a thoughtful handshake but is much more intimate, given the faces are placed so close together. 

  • Laughing at Protocol

    Prince William and Kate visit Quarry View in England 2018
    Charlotte Graham WPA Pool/Getty Images

    When Prince William laughs at the protocol rules, it gives a bit of a hint that they're outdated. That's exactly what happened when he and Kate visited a service organization. Nervous about the meeting, the staff wrote up protocol cards with tips for greeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William got a glimpse of the cards and couldn't help but to have a laugh about them. Recommending to call them "Your Royal Highness" first, and on second mention, "Sir or Ma’am (rhymes with tram)." (Very cute.) Prince William laughed and suggested that they update the protocol.

  • Speaking About Politics

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Dublin Ireland March 2020
    Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images

    One of the most well-known rules for the royal family is that they must remain politically neutral and not engage in politics at all. This neutral stance extends to other countries, which explains why Queen Elizabeth has hosted both Republican and Democratic presidents over the years.

    Speaking about politically charged topics is forbidden, and Prince William had been following protocol on this ... until 2019. During a conversation with local farmers while they were visiting Cumbria, Prince William asked the farmers if they were "worried" about a no deal Brexit. Prince William didn’t offer his own opinion on the topic. But he did listen to their responses, which the group agreed would be "absolutely dire" for their futures. 

  • Speaking Out Against Bullies


    During anti-bullying week in the UK, the father of three gave an impassioned speech about the repercussions of cyberbullying, social media, and fake news. William challenged tech companies to better protect children and families:

    "You have powered amazing movements of social change. Surely together you can harness innovation to allow us to fight back against the intolerance and cruelty that has been brought to the surface by your platforms," he said. "Surely you can partner with parents to make the online world a safe place of discovery, friendship and education for their children."


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