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Monarchy Monday: Strange royal laws, broken down

You may have heard of some strange laws that were once enforced, or some that still are. Where Monarch’s once held the power to create laws, that job now lies with our politicians. Some of those laws have become far-fetched ideas of the original, and some never were. It’s about time we set the record straight!

It is illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day
On December 25, 1644 eating mince pies was illegal, but only on that day as it fell on a legally mandated day of fasting. The Long Parliament of Interregnum banned all celebrations of Christmas due to this, not just mince pies. They were, however, a symbol of the immoral excesses of the festive season and therefore strongly disapproved.Following the Restoration of the Monarchy any statutes of the Interregnum were invalid, as they passed without Royal Assent. King Charles II did re-enact some statutes, but banning Christmas or mince pies was not one. So thanks to King Charles II you can eat all the mince pies you like, any day of the year!

It is illegal to crack a boiled egg at the sharp end
Many believe this to have started with King Edward VI. The same question of which way to break an egg caused the war between Lilliput and Blefuscu in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and that is where is the law stops. The only statute related to eggs during his reign deals with the theft of eggs from birds’ nests. There is also no evidence of laws relating to boiled eggs during any other reign.
It is illegal for a commoner to permit his animal to have carnal knowledge of a pet of the royal household
King George I is usually attributed to this law. None of the Acts set forth during his reign relate to royal pets. The Criminal Law Act 1722 did set the death penalty for killing deer in the royal forests, but has since been repealed. No other Monarch’s reign has statutes regarding this either.
It is illegal to stand within 100 yards of the reigning monarch without wearing socks
Good news, you don’t have to wear worry about socks with sandals during the heat of summer. This law is a no go. King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I all passed laws regarding clothing, but socks was not one of them. One law that passed was the 1562 Articles for the Execution of the Statutes of Apparel. This law prohibited anyone from appearing at the royal court wearing shirts with “outrageous double ruffs”, or hose of “monstrous and outrageous greatness”. King James I, however, repealed such laws.
It is illegal to place a stamp of the Queen upside down on a letter
This stems from The Treason Felony Act 1848 that makes it an offence to do any act with intentions deposing the monarch. Placing a stamp upside down would not fall under this. The BBC spoke with the Royal Mail and a spokeswoman said, “It’s a myth and not true. There’s nothing to say you can’t put a stamp upside down,” So no worries if hastily you affix a stamp the wrong way, no one will even bat an eyelash.
It is illegal to die in Parliament
The idea that it is illegal to die in Parliament goes hand in hand with the “law” that anyone who dies in Westminster is entitled to a costly state funeral. Both not true. As state funerals are reserved for kings and queens, it is said that non-monarchs are not allowed to die in Parliament and be rushed off the Westminster estate in an ambulance.

“We’re not aware of any such law. It’s tied up with the convention that, if somebody does die, they’re under jurisdiction of the coroner of the Royal Household,” a spokesman for the House of Commons told the BBC. If you need more proof, Guy Fawkes, Sir Walter Raleigh and Spencer Perceval were all killed on the Westminster estate. Not one of them received a state funeral.

So there, you have it! Eat an egg whichever way you please and enjoy a mince pie on Christmas. You don’t need to worry!

photo credit: London / ?? – Big Ben & Palace of Westminster via photopin

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