This article is a composition of our five favourite lesser-known traditions in the British Monarchy. Some of you may have heard of some of these, others will be a surprise and shock. We hope you enjoy our compilation. If you know of any further ones, drop us a line in the comments box below.
1. Death Of The Sovereign
Upon the death of the Sovereign and the immediate succession of the new Sovereign, it is customary, but not compulsory for the phrase ‘The King Is Dead, Long Live The King’ (or Queen where appropriate) to be uttered. This symbolises the never-ending continuity of the crown and that the very moment the Sovereign dies, he/she is immediately succeeded. The part, “The King Is Dead’, refers to the previous, then deceased King. The part ‘Long Live The King’ refers to the new King.
In fact, as a point of interest, legally, the Sovereign never dies. Whilst individual Kings and Queens do of course die, the Sovereign never dies as the Sovereign is the present reigning Monarch and as Kings and Queens immediately succeed, there is never a point where there is not a sovereign.
2. Christmas With The Queen
Every year at Christmas, Her Majesty The Queen presents every single member of her household staff with a Christmas pudding and a Christmas present. The presents are of relative value and are selected in March by each member of staff from a catalogue. The longer the member of staff has served, the higher in value their present is.
The presents are then ordered in the next few months and presented to members of the Royal Household at Christmas. This tradition has been sustained throughout the Queen’s reign.
3. The Queen’s Approval Of Bills In Parliament
The Queen herself no longer attends Parliament as a matter of routine to approve bills, however the clerk of Parliament does this on behalf of Her Majesty. However, instead of doing this in the logical language of English, the Queen’s approval is given in French, Norman French.
The granting of the Royal Assent to a bill regarding royal finances is indicated with the words La Reyne remercie ses bons sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et ainsi le veult. This translates as “The Queen thanks her good subjects, accepts their bounty, and wills it so.” For other public or private bills, the formula is simply La Reyne le veult (the Queen wills it). For personal bills, the phrase was Soit fait comme il est désiré (let it be as it is desired). The appropriate formula for withholding Assent is the euphemistic La Reyne s’avisera (the Queen will consider it). When the Sovereign is male, Le Roy is substituted for La Reyne.
4. The Queen’s Alarm Call
Most people wake up to the sound of an alarm clock. In the Royal Household, nothing is ever this understated. Every morning, the Queen and the rest of the Royal Household are awoken to the sound of The Queen’s piper walking around the Sovereign’s window outside the Royal Residence from precisely 9AM for 15 minutes.
The Queen’s Piper is a personal appointment to the Sovereign, originating when Queen Victoria visited the Marquess Of Breadalbane in 1843 and discovering that the Breadalbanes had a personal piper. She was very taken with the idea of a personal piper and one has occupied this post in the Royal Household ever since, with a short intermission during the Second World War.
The Queen’s Piper is known to cause quite a stir in the Royal Household, the ferocious noise of the bagpipes not being quite to some members of the household’s taste at 9 o’clock in the morning!
5. The Court Circular
This illusive document is issued every single day by the Royal Household. The Court Circular is the official record that lists the engagements carried out by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and of the other Commonwealth Realms; the Royal Family; and appointments to their staff and to the court. It is issued by Buckingham Palace and printed a day in arrears at the back of the The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Scotsmannewspapers. An archive of the circular back to 1998 is provided on the British monarchy’s website.
The Court Circular was first established by King George III. The King had become irritated by the press at that time, who frequently reported false movements of the Royal Family. Therefore the King created an official circular to all the press that listed the engagements carried out by his family.
The current court circular and court circulars going back about 10+ years are available from the Royal Website, click here to see.