11 Bizarre Royal Traditions Unveiled, From Swan Counts to Silver Masks

For most of us, traditions might include family gatherings during holidays or specific rituals passed down through generations. However, when it comes to the world's royal families, traditions take on a different hue - one that's steeped in centuries of history, filled with intriguing rituals, and occasionally, a touch of the bizarre. Ever wondered why a royal bride would carry a specific plant in her bouquet? Or why the Queen would participate in a swan census? Dive into the world of peculiar royal customs and find out more!

  1. Myrtle in the Bridal Bouquet (British Royal Family): Since Queen Victoria's era, royal brides have included a sprig of myrtle in their wedding bouquets. This symbolizes love and fertility. The myrtle is typically taken from Queen Victoria's own 170-year-old plant.
  2. The Christmas Weight-In (British Royal Family): After Christmas lunch, members of the British royal family are weighed. This tradition started with King Edward VII to ensure that everyone had been well-fed.
  3. Swan Upping (British Royal Family): Every year, the Queen partakes in a census of all the swans on the River Thames. The event, called "Swan Upping," involves catching the swans, counting them, and then releasing them.
  4. The Garter Ceremony (British Royal Family): Each year, the Order of the Garter (the oldest and highest order of chivalry in the UK) has a ceremony where members parade in velvet robes, garters, and plumed hats.
  5. Royal Veto for Marriage (British Royal Family): Until recently, the Royal Marriages Act 1772 required descendants of King George II to get the reigning monarch's permission to marry. This was repealed in 2015.
  6. No Shellfish (British Royal Family): Royals are often advised not to eat shellfish to avoid the risk of food poisoning. While this is more of an informal guideline, many royals adhere to it while traveling.
  7. Eating Ortolan (French Monarchy): French monarchs used to dine on a small bird called ortolan. The diner would cover their head with a napkin (possibly out of reverence or to hide the act) and then consume the bird whole.
  8. Black Mourning Clothes (Various Royal Families): Many royal families have strict guidelines for mourning attire. For instance, after the death of a monarch or significant royal, members of the royal family may be required to wear black for a specified period.
  9. Birthday Cannons (British Royal Family): To mark the birthdays of the Queen and other significant royals, a 41-gun salute is fired in central London. 
  10. King's Feast (Belgium): In Belgium, the King's Feast is a public holiday dedicated to the Belgian monarchy. Interestingly, it's not a celebration of the current king's birthday but a separate day altogether.
  11. Jewels for the Dead (Danish Royal Family): In Denmark, when a monarch passes away, a lifelike effigy is created with a silver death mask. This effigy is dressed in the monarch's clothes and adorned with their jewels, then displayed at Rosenborg Castle.

Royalty has always been cloaked in a shroud of mystique, and these traditions only add layers to the enigma. While some of these customs might evoke a raised eyebrow or a chuckle, they remind us that traditions, whether big or small, ancient or modern, serve as a bridge to our past, connecting generations and reinforcing unique cultural identities. The next time you spot a news piece on a royal event, perhaps you'll have a deeper appreciation for the rituals that unfold and the rich tapestry of history behind them.

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