8 Bizarre Superstitions of the British Royal Family
The British royal family abides by many well-known traditions—but they are also said to believe in some strange superstitions.
A British monarch’s coronation day is a joyous occasion—but it also carries a lot of pressure. If something goes wrong during the coronation ceremony, royal superstition considers it to be a bad omen for the sovereign. Any mishaps would predict an unsuccessful reign. (Learn the etiquette rules everyone in the royal family must follow.)
The gorgeous sapphire spotted on Princess Diana’s (now Kate Middleton’s) engagement ring isn’t just there for decoration. Since medieval times, royal jewelry has sparkled with gemstones believed to hold mythical powers. Sapphires, in particular, are known to deepen devotion and loyalty, as well as bring financial prosperity and stability. Superstitious Queen Victoria wore a sapphire on her wedding day, too.
For more than 300 years, exactly six to seven ravens have lived in the Tower of London. Why, you ask? King Charles II insisted on protecting the Tower’s feathered residents, who he believed would preserve both the nation and its monarchy. In fact, according to a long-standing superstition, “if the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.” Visitors can stop by the ravens’ quarters to this day.
Another fascinating ritual associated with the Tower of London is called the Ceremony of the Keys. Each day before 10 p.m., a ceremonial guardian (also known as a Beefeater) and a military escort walk throughout the Tower and lock every gate. While modern security systems have been installed since then, the 700-year-old ceremony is performed to protect the Tower, which guards the Crown Jewels, against nighttime intruders and thieves.
The State Opening of Parliament marks the beginning of a U.K. Parliamentary session—but to kick off the festivities, a rather strange tradition must occur. Before Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the ceremony, the Royal Household takes a Member of Parliament as a hostage. This ritual started as a way to ensure the sovereign’s safety during the visit, especially when the monarch and Parliament were in conflict. The hostage usually stays at Buckingham Palace until the Queen returns. Don’t miss more bizarre perks of the British royal family.
Prince Harry and fiancée Meghan Markle have proven they are not afraid to go against the royal grain. But one otherwise non-controversial decision—their wedding date—might have ruffled Queen Victoria’s feathers. Turns out, the late monarch did not approve of May weddings; she considered it unlucky to marry in the fifth month of the calendar year. As the superstitious rhyme goes, “Marry in May, and rue the day.” Here are 12 more times the royal family has broken their own protocol.
The British royals have a fair share of ghosts lurking throughout their castle halls. For instance, the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn is said to haunt her childhood home, Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Every year on May 19 (the anniversary of her execution), she has allegedly been spotted riding in a phantom coach drawn by four headless horses and a headless horseman, holding her severed head in her lap. Others claim Anne’s spirit haunts Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, too. Skeptical? These chilling, real ghost stories will make you believe.
Their royal touch
Edward the Confessor, ruler of England from 1042 to 1066, was reportedly the first monarch to practice “the royal touch.” During this healing ritual, the sovereign would place his hands on a sick person to cure them. At the time, it was believed that monarchs possessed healing powers thanks to their divine appointment from God. (Superstitions aside, you will never, ever hear the royal family say these eight words.)