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The bizarre Royal Family ritual where the Queen ‘takes a hostage’


It’s no real secret that the Royal Family is dramatically different from any other family in the UK – or the world for that matter.

Many of the family’s traditions are so wacky many of us wouldn’t even be able to contemplate how they work in practice.

Of course, there are some public Royal traditions that are well-known, like the Changing of the Guard and Trooping of the Colour, the strict dress code and the good old curtsey.

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But there are a few more bizarre rituals which our Royals still follow, according to OK Magazine.

Her Majesty is a Duke



Queen Elizabeth has been advised by doctors to rest for two more weeks
The Queen is a Duke

Yep, you read that right – the Queen has many titles, but none as perplexing as the Duke of Lancaster.

Surely they’ve made a mistake? But no, the title dates back to Henry III’s reign in 1265.

The king gifted his son a huge patch of land in England and Wales, dubbing him the Earl of Lancaster.

The title became ‘Duke’ and since 1399, each reigning monarch has inherited both the land and the gender-neutral name.

The Queen takes hostages



Though not literally obviously

Ok so this isn’t as alarming as it sounds – our Queen does not kidnap her people.

Back in the 1600s King Charles I had a tricky time with politicians and ended up being beheaded.

To ensure future monarchs didn’t meet the same grisly fate, the idea of taking a ‘hostage’ was formed.

Now, when the Queen opens Parliament, she takes a ‘hostage’ – usually an MP whose office makes them an official member of the Royal Household – who is looked after at Buckingham Palace while events take place.

So, in theory, if The Queen were to be harmed the ‘hostage’ would suffer the same fate.

The Royals have Raven Soldiers



Ravens perching on the railing at the Tower of London
Ravens perching on the railing at the Tower of London

While wielding a weapon might be a bit challenging, ravens have a special role as soldiers to the Queen.

When King Charles II donned the crown in 1649, he decreed that at least six ravens should be kept inside the Tower of London.

Apparently a courtier warned the king that if the tower’s ravens were lost or flew away, the Crown and Britain would fall.



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It’s still a superstition, and the Ravens are official soldiers under oath to serve the Crown.

They’ll be dismissed for poor conduct, and even have names!

A countrywide hunt for missing Queen Raven Merlina took place this year, but sadly she was never found.

There’s a Pricking Ceremony



The Queen
The Queen

Her Majesty picks the High Sheriffs (an honorary role supporting crime prevention) during this oddly-named ceremony.

The Queen is shown the names and uses a Bodkin, a sewing tool, to pierce the candidates she deems suitable.

The tradition dates back to Queen Elizabeth I’s reign when, upon choosing her High Sheriffs, she did not have a pen and used the Bodkin from her embroidery set instead.

Women must sit in a certain way



Queen Elizabeth II sits with Anna Wintour (second right) and royal dressmaker Angela Kelly (right)
Queen Elizabeth II sits with Anna Wintour (second right) and royal dressmaker Angela Kelly (right)

There is such a thing as royal posture – and it’s quite specific!

Female members of the Royal Family must sit with their chins parallel to the floor.

They must sit straight against the back of the chair and their legs should be slanted and bent to one side with knees and ankles closed.

It’s not known when the tradition was introduced but the position, known as the ‘Duchess Slant’, is used to protect modesty.

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