Aug 02, 2023
Royal Family Sunglasses Etiquette: When Can Kate Middleton Sport Shades
Princess Kate and Princess Charlotte both made a splash in stylish sunglasses at Wimbledon Stephanie Petit is a Royals Editor, Writer and Reporter at PEOPLE. Karwai Tang/WireImage Sunglasses may be a
Princess Kate and Princess Charlotte both made a splash in stylish sunglasses at Wimbledon
Stephanie Petit is a Royals Editor, Writer and Reporter at PEOPLE.
Sunglasses may be a summer staple, but members of the royal family limit when they sport their eyewear.
Princess Charlotte recently made a style statement in a pair of sunglasses during her Wimbledon debut. The 8-year-old royal kept a close eye on the tennis action between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic despite the summer sun with her funky shades — while mom Kate Middleton and dad Prince William also wore sunglasses during the match (but Prince George went without the accessory).
However, the royals only wore their sunglasses while watching the game. When meeting staff, volunteers, ball boys and girls and others before the start of the match, their sunglasses were nowhere in sight.
Likewise, when they headed inside to congratulate Alcaraz on his win, the accessories were all stored.
While Princess Kate often wears sunglasses at Wimbledon, it's not a common practice during her public outings — just like other members of the royal family.
Myka Meier, an etiquette expert and the author of the book Modern Etiquette Made Easy, tells PEOPLE: "Sunglasses — or 'sunnies,' as they are called socially in the U.K. — can be seen on royals during official engagements, but usually only during sporting events when there is an activity or event outside or when needed as eye protection for a sunny climate or environment they are in (think Kate on her royal tour in the Caribbean). They will remove sunglasses as soon as they walk inside, have a prolonged or serious conversation or upon any formal greeting."
"Sunglasses don't allow direct eye contact, which can be seen as a barrier when communicating," Meier continues. "By taking sunglasses off upon meeting, it is seen as a sign of courtesy and respect to the other person."
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Princess Kate is known to often support British designers with her eyewear choices, from Victoria Beckham to Finlay.
Prince William is a recent convert to the British brand Finlay, adding a contemporary touch to his smart attire at Wimbledon in the Marshall style. In the same month, Kate wore the brand’s glamorous cat-eye Vivian in a tortoiseshell shade to watch her husband play in a charity polo match. She wore them as a headband on her head before the game and removed them completely to award her husband and others with prizes afterward.
The Princess of Wales isn't the only member of the royal family to sport sunnies from time to time. King Charles and Queen Camilla protect their eyes with glasses during sunny events, and even Queen Elizabeth was a fan. While she usually skipped sunglasses while on royal duty, the late monarch would occasionally wear them for outdoor events like garden parties at royal residences such as Buckingham Palace.
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Sunglasses have even been at the center of minor royal controversies. President Joe Biden was criticized for wearing his sunglasses when he met Queen Elizabeth in 2021.
Grant Harrold, a former royal butler, told Newsweek: "It's fine for Biden to have had sunglasses on, but he should have removed them when he actually met the Queen"
Harrold added, "Everyone else has to, it doesn't matter who you are — even royals remove sunglasses when they meet royals."
Meier has shared some tips for wearing sunglasses on her popular Instagram page.
She advises removing sunglasses when heading indoors, writing, "Wearing sunglasses indoors can be seen as disrespectful or that you are hiding something and deemed untrustworthy."
Meier also shared the catchy phrase: "If they aren’t on your face then they should be in your case." Instead of putting sunglasses in your shirt, pocket or head, she says, "If you’re not wearing sunglasses, they go in their case not only to protect them from scratches and damage, but it also shows respect for the investment you’ve made in them."
As long as you're remembering your manners, sunglasses are a key part of your summer wardrobe. Shop some of the British royal family's favorite looks below.
Get the Royals' Favorite Pairs!
Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle's shared go-to: Finlay Henrietta Sunglasses, $225
Zara Tindall's cool shades: Illesteva Leonard Sunglasses, $220
Meghan Markle's baby shower look: Le Specs Air Heart Sunglasses, $75
Princess Eugenie's funky style: Mr. Boho Jordaan Sunglasses, $85
Kate Middleton's classics: Ray-Ban Wayfarer II Sunglasses, $221
Get the Look!
bebe Square Pearl Sunglasses, $49
Madewell Indio Sunglasses, $55
Vincero The Quinn Sunglasses, $145
Poppy Lissiman Crimpie Sunglasses, $135
Peepers Montauk Sunglasses, $29
Chris Jackson/GettyGet the Royals' Favorite Pairs!Get the Look!