10 rules and laws that the royal family is allowed to break

·6-min read
10 rules and laws that the royal family is allowed to break
Prince William, Prince of Wales and King Charles III walk behind Queen Elizabeth II's coffin as it is transported on a gun carriage to Westminster Hall.
Prince William, Prince of Wales. and King Charles III walk behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images
  • The royal family is required to follow an extensive list of rules and pieces of royal protocol.

  • However, King Charles and his family members also enjoy a number of royal perks.

  • They're exempt from things like taxes and jury duty, and the king is allowed to break any law.

The British monarch can't be arrested or be the subject of civil and criminal proceedings, meaning he is effectively exempt from the law.

Queen Elizabeth II and her son Charles in 2019.
Queen Elizabeth II and the then-titled Prince Charles during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in 2019.Paul Edwards - WPA Pool/Getty Images

King Charles enjoys sovereign immunity, meaning he can't be prosecuted under a civil or criminal investigation.

This rule also applied to the late Queen Elizabeth II. According to previous guidance on the royal family's official website, "although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law," the Queen was careful to ensure that activities in her personal capacity were carried out in strict accordance with the law.

The royal family does not have to obey legal speed limits, but only when they're driven by police on official royal duties.

Queen Elizabeth II driving Range Rover car
Queen Elizabeth II in her Range Rover at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on July 2, 2021.Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

When the king, prime minister, and other members of the royal family are driven by police officers on official royal business, they can drive as fast or as slow as they please.

According to The Sun, the Road Traffic Regulation Act gives permission for police, fire, ambulance, and other enforcement agency vehicles to break speed limits. Since the royals are always driven by police escorts while completing royal duties, their vehicles are thus exempt from following speed regulations.

The Queen didn't have to use a passport to travel, and this is likely to also be true for King Charles.

King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla Belfast
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla arrive in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ahead of the Queen's funeral.Liam McBurney/pool via AP

Every passport in the United Kingdom is issued with the Queen's name. As a consequence, the Queen didn't need her own passport to travel, according to the royal family website.

Following the Queen's death, passports are likely to be altered to reflect King Charles as the new sovereign. However, much like the process of altering British money and stamps, this will be a gradual change and could take a number of years, Euronews reports.

All other members of the royal family hold their own passports, the royal family website adds.

Her Majesty was never required to have a driver's license.

queen elizabeth civilian driving
Queen Elizabeth II driving a vehicle.Carl De Souza/Stringer/Getty Images

At the age of 18, Queen Elizabeth II trained as a driver and mechanic for the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

The Queen was never required to take an actual driving test and was also able to drive without a number plate because all driver's licenses in the UK are issued in the Queen's name, according to the Daily Express.

The Mirror reports King Charles is no longer required to use a driver's license because he is the new monarch.

The royals don't have to use their legal last names.

prince william prince charles
King Charles and Prince William.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge/Twitter

The royals are not required to use their legal last names, even though they technically do have one.

Before 1917, members of the British royal family had no surname, but now, the male-line descendants of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip bear the last name Mountbatten-Windsor, according to the royal family website.

While regular grandparents have to go through the courts if they want custody of their grandchildren, the king has automatic legal custody of all of his descendants and his minor grandchildren.

Prince Charles, Prince George, and Prince William at Trooping the Colour 2015.
Prince Charles, Prince George, and Prince William at Trooping the Colour 2015.Samir Hussein/Contributor/Getty Images

The monarch has legal custody of their grandchildren, royal historian Marlene Koenig told News.com.au. in 2018.

This means Charles technically has custody of Prince William and Kate Middleton's three children, Prince George, Prince Charlotte, and Prince Louis, and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's children, Archie and Lilibet.

This 300-year-old rule may seem odd, and though it's unlikely the king would ever take his grandchildren away from their parents, the law is still technically there.

Members of the royal family are exempt from paying taxes in certain instances.

royals on palace balcony
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Prince William at an official royal engagement.Getty Images

Though the monarch is not legally required to pay taxes, the Queen made voluntary payments on income, assets, and gains not used for official purposes, Insider previously reported.

Other parts of the royal family's income, like the Prince of Wales' income from the Duchy of Cornwall, are also exempt from taxes. However, he also "voluntarily pays income tax on all revenue from the estate," according to the official website.

The royals are also able to skip out on jury duty.

prince charles queen elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

One royal perk is that members of the king's family do not have to take part in jury duty. In normal instances in the United Kingdom, evading jury duty results in a fine of up to £1,000, or around $1,100.

However, for the king and members of his immediate family, jury duty is not required, The Guardian reported.

The monarch typically has two birthdays.

queen elizabeth birthday cake
Queen Elizabeth II cutting a birthday cake.John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

According to the royal family's official website, the Queen celebrated two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on April 21 and her official public birthday celebration on the second Saturday in June.

Across generations, sovereign rulers have often held their public birthday celebrations on days other than their actual birthday, especially when their real birth dates fall in the autumn or winter. This is in order to increase the likeliness of good weather for the annual Trooping the Colour parade, according to the royal family website.

Since King Charles' birthday is in November, he could follow his mother's lead and have a second celebration in June too, although this is yet to be confirmed.

The monarchy is also exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

A picture of the royal family.
The royal family.ASSOCIATED PRESS

"The Royal Household is not a public authority within the meaning of the FOI Acts, and is therefore exempt from their provisions," according to the royal family website.

This rule allows the royal family to exercise more privacy over their day-to-day duties and financials. For instance, while the royal household releases an annual financial report, the UK public is prevented from accessing detailed information on its spending.

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