Some Words The British Royal Family Never Use

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It’s intimidating to think about meeting a member of the royal family. It can be challenging to know what to say given the strict protocol and emphasis on proper etiquette, but it turns out that there are some words you should avoid using when addressing the Queen or Duchess Kate.

There are some verbal dos and don’ts when speaking to a royal, according to social anthropologist Kate Fox, author of Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, who has studied the linguistic peculiarities of the upper classes. Let’s look at it.


‘Posh’.

It’s a word that most of us would use to describe the upper classes, but the royal themselves would never opt to say ‘posh’. Instead, they would use the word ‘smart’.
According to Kate, ‘posh’ would only ever be used “ironically, in a jokey tone, to show that you know it’s a low-class word”.

‘Perfume’.

Female members of the royal household, including the Queen, Kate and Duchess Camilla, never wear perfume. Instead they spritz on a favoured ‘scent’.

‘Tea’.

Never refer to your evening meal as ‘tea’. At the palace, the royals sit down at the end of the day to their ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’.

‘Lounge’.

Buckingham Palace has a huge number of rooms – but you won’t find a single ‘lounge’. Instead, the Windsors relax in a ‘sitting room’ or a ‘drawing room’. As a side note, ‘sofa’ is apparently the appropriate term for a ‘settee’ or a ‘couch’.

‘Toilet’.

The word ‘toilet’ is also never used. ‘Lavatory’ or ‘loo’ are the preferred terms. According to Kate, historically the royals avoided using ‘toilet’ because of its French origins.

‘Pardon’.

As children, we were taught that ‘pardon’ was the politest response if we’d misheard someone. Not so in royal circles. Instead they will simply say ‘sorry?’ or ‘what?’ if they wish the speaker to repeat themselves.

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