Royal rebel: 11 times King Charles broke protocol, from replacing Meghan Markle’s dad at her wedding and kissing a 16-year-old fan, to underage drinking at Gordonstoun and PDAs with Princess Diana
In the 1960s, Charles attended Gordonstoun Boarding School in Moray, Scotland. In his second year of school, a young Prince Charles and a few fellow students had dinner at the Crown Hotel before a film at the Stornoway Playhouse.
According to the Scottish Daily Express, Charles was dared to go up to the bar and order a drink. Unluckily for him, a tabloid reporter at the pub spotted the prince ordering a cherry brandy – reportedly “the first drink that came into [his] head” – and published the story of the prince drinking under the legal age of 18. Charles’ bodyguard was reportedly fired after the incident.
Receiving kisses from fans
As a young prince, Charles broke royal protocol when he received a kiss from 16-year-old Gilda Larbey during a trip to Australia in 1977.
When then-Prince Charles was in his mid-to-late twenties, he was a veritable heartthrob among the young ladies of the Commonwealth, so it’s no surprise that one tried to steal a kiss from him.
Charles broke with royal precedent by being present at the births of his two children
Princess Diana was the first royal to give birth in a hospital – it was custom for members of the royal family to give birth at the palace. Charles was also present at the birth of both of his sons, which broke royal precedent.
Prince Charles regularly kissed his wife Princess Diana in public
From the outside looking in, the pair looked like the perfect, happy couple. They regularly engaged in displays of public affection, which are against royal protocol, at the prince’s many polo matches.
Then he became the first Prince of Wales to be granted a divorce
Charles was also the first Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the throne to be granted a divorce, breaking royal protocol that preferred monarchs to never be divorced.
Charles and Diana officially filed for divorce after 15 years of marriage in 1996. By that time, Charles and Diana’s marriage was in a shambles after both of them admitted to being unfaithful during their marriage.
Princess Diana received a generous divorce settlement, the right to continue using her title of Princess of Wales, and retained her apartments at Kensington Palace. However, the “People’s Princess” had to relinquish the title of Her Royal Highness and any future claims to the British throne.
Charles returned a hug from a young fan
Charles broke royal tradition when he hugged an 11-year-old boy during a royal visit to Romania.
It was reported that 11-year-old Valentin Blacker, the son of a local conservationist, was “clearly unfamiliar with royal protocol” and threw “his arms around the prince”, who, unusually, gave the young boy a warm hug back.
Charles raised a few eyebrows when he kissed Camilla at a 2005 polo match
Charles signed an autograph
Charles signed an autograph, which is usually forbidden, for a family affected by devastating flash floods in Cornwall in 2010.
The royal family typically isn’t allowed to sign autographs because it would increase the risk of having their signatures forged. However, when meeting with victims of the Cornwall flash floods in 2010, Charles obliged one couple’s request for an autograph for their son.
He reportedly wrote “Charley 2010” on a scrap of paper given to him by a surprised bodyguard and even apologised for his “shaky writing” because he “never writes standing up”.
Charles once broke royal protocol by eating an oyster
Royal protocol states that family members should avoid eating shellfish due to fears of food poisoning.
“It is a very sensible move to abandon having seafood when out and about on public duties,” former royal butler Grant Harold previously told Woman & Home magazine. “We don’t want a member of the Royal family having a serious reaction to food poisoning, especially if they’re on an overseas tour.”
However, Charles ignored this rule during a trip to the Whitstable Oyster Festival in 2013 where he tucked into a freshly-shucked oyster.
Charles broke royal protocol when he stepped in to escort Meghan Markle down the aisle
Prince Harry later recalled the moment he asked his father to walk Meghan down the aisle in the BBC One documentary Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70.
Charles has been a vocal advocate for environmentalism
Royals are generally forbidden from commenting on political issues, but Charles has been a vocal advocate for environmentalism and the fight against climate change.
Throughout his royal career, Charles has been a staunch environmentalist and has commented multiple times on how the government must take action on climate change – which directly goes against the ethos that royals should be politically neutral.
In January 2022, Charles praised his son Prince Harry’s own dedication to fighting climate change.
“As a father, I am proud that my sons have recognised this threat,” Charles wrote in an essay penned for Newsweek. “And my younger son, Harry, has passionately highlighted the impact of climate change, especially in relation to Africa, and committed his charity to being net zero.”
- As a prince, Charles’ PDAs with wives Princess Diana and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall broke with royal precedent, and his hugs and kisses with fans did too
- As early as 14, Charles was caught underage drinking with school friends, and his outspoken support of environmentalism is still controversial – but why was eating oysters a bad idea?