Surprisingly Frugal Habits of the British Royal Family

Want to live like a member of the royal family? You might be surprised to learn that’s it’s not all sports cars and caviar.
Truly rich people often live frugally, and the British royal family is no exception. They can afford to spend tons of money on food, travel, and entertainment, but living life to the excess is considered gauche to anyone with old money. Instead, they employ money-saving habits that help them waste less and enjoy life just as much.
Find out exactly how members of the royal family from Queen Elizabeth II to young Prince George are pinching pennies and living thrifty lives.

1. They start the day with a simple breakfast

Woman pouring milk onto cereal
Breakfast isn’t a lavish affair for the royals. | Image_Source_/Getty Images 

Ignore the rumor you heard about Prince Charles requiring seven hard-boiled eggs prepared each morning so he can choose the very best one to consume. In real life, the royals usually skip formal five-course breakfasts in favor of a more modest meal.
Queen Elizabeth II usually has a simple bowl of cereal (usually Special K) with a side of fruit for breakfast.
Next: This tradition is cheaper than the alternative.

2. They give gag gifts

Queen Elizabeth 92nd birthday
The Queen appreciates a good gag gift. | Andrew Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Fancy presents have their place, but last year the royal family went a different route. Instead of purchasing expensive presents, they selected gag gifts for the Christmas Eve present exchange at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. Meghan Markle apparently bought Her Majesty a singing hamster toy that inspired the monarch to “burst out laughing” in delight.
Next: This is one the most surprising frugal habits.

3. They fly coach

British Airways
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sometimes fly coach on British Airways. | Sansara/iStock/Getty Images

Private airlines? First class tickets? Not for all the royal family members.
Given their extensive travel schedules, members of the British royal family often cut costs by flying economy. Prince William flew coach on an American Airlines flight from Memphis to Dallas, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle squeezed onto a regular British Airways flight during New Year’s 2018.
Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing an armrest with a future king on an upcoming vacation.
Next: This trick comes in handy around the holidays.

4. They reuse wrapping paper

rolls of colorful wrapping paper
Like many thrifty grandmothers, Queen Elizabeth likes to reuse wrapping paper. |

As the reigning monarch of Great Britain, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II can afford to splurge on the fanciest wrapping paper. But according to her biographer Kate Williams, the queen is much more likely to smooth out and reuse wrapping paper and ribbons instead of throwing them away.
Next: They don’t mind if photographers catch them doing this.

5. They wear outfits multiple times

Kate Middleton necklace
Duchess Kate frequently repeats outfits. | Richard Pohle/AFP/Getty Images

Mere commoners re-wear outfits all the time and it’s no big deal. But when you’re a celebrity or a royal with the world watching what you wear, it’s somewhat expected that each public appearance warrants a new outfit. That’s why it’s so surprising that Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth are known for repeating outfits all the time. Princess Anne has been repeating the same styles for 35 years.
Next: This habit creates less waste, too.

6. They repair items instead of tossing them

Prince Charles of Wales
Prince Charles has a pair of shoes that are nearly 50 years old. | Carl Court/Getty Images

Rather than order new work gloves, Queen Elizabeth opted to have them repaired. Prince Charles has a pair of 47-year-old shoes that he keeps refurbishing rather than opting for a shiny new pair.
Next: This makes them seem so down-to-Earth.

7. They do things for themselves

Kate Middleton Wedding
Kate did her own makeup on her wedding day. | Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Most brides splurge on professional makeup on their wedding day — but not Kate Middleton. The Duchess of Cambridge took makeup lessons in advance of her big day and then applied her own makeup on that storied day in April 2011.
Next: Some people enjoy this task.

8. They cook their own meals

Chef prepares hotpot in the stew pan
Prince Harry doesn’t rely on the help of a live-in chef. | RazoomGames/iStock/Getty Images

Many of us dream of having a live-in chef to handle the time-consuming monotony of daily meal prep. The British royal family can afford this perk, but that doesn’t mean they take advantage of it.
Kate Middleton cooks for her family all the time and Prince Harry is often spotted nonchalantly picking out his own groceries at the supermarket.
Next: Anyone can copy this money-saving home tip.

9. They reduce energy usage

Antique Light Bulbs
Queen Elizabeth posted a sign reminding staffers to turn off the lights at Buckingham Palace. |

Keeping the lights on at Buckingham Palace is no small expense — with 40,000 light bulbs, there’s a whole lot of electricity to pay for. But that doesn’t mean the queen lets it go to waste. In 2011, she posted a sign instructing staff members to shut off lights whenever they weren’t using them.
An American lighting company also replaced 32,000 traditional light bulbs in the palace with energy-efficient LED bulbs for additional savings.
Next: This is a common practice in large families.

10. They wear hand-me-downs

Prince George, Prince William, and Princess Charlotte
Even a prince has to wear hand-me-downs sometimes. | Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

The Duchess of Cambridge frequents a few posh children’s boutiques in London, but she’s also not above dressing her children in previously worn outfits. Princess Charlotte was photographed wearing her Uncle Harry’s little shoes from decades ago, while Prince George has donned his dad’s old clothing.
Next: This proves that the royal family doesn’t like to waste anything.

11. They eat leftovers

Leftover containers of food in a refrigerator
They don’t toss leftover food. | joebelanger/iStock/Getty Images

Reheating meals? Yes, even British royalty does it to save money and reduce waste. Uneaten food at the palace gets used in future dishes or eaten for lunch the next day.
Next: Here’s the reason you can copy them exactly.

12. They shop at regular stores

Gap Store
Both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle sometimes shop at stores like J. Crew and Gap. | Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Some events call for high fashion designer dresses. But when it comes to everyday outfits, both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle aren’t above shopping at chain retail stores such as Gap, Zara, Everlane, and J. Crew. Unsurprisingly, anything the two are spotted wearing sells out in a flash.
Next: They’re all about vintage.

13. They keep things forever

old suitacse
Queen Elizabeth still has the same suitcase she took on her honeymoon in 1947. | Jupiterimages/iStock/Getty Images

Retail therapy feels so good, but that’s not how members of the British royalty get their kicks. Her Royal Majesty may be a frequent traveler, but she’s still using the same Trotter suitcase she bought for her honeymoon in 1947.
Besides the shoes Prince Charles has had since the ‘70s, he also has a 50-year-old jacket. He also prefers patching his clothes to splurging on new ones.
Next: This habit isn’t necessarily a good thing.

14. They pay their employees a pittance

Queen Elizabeth II
Some staffers might think the royals’ penny-pinching habits go too far. | Michael Ukas /Pool /Getty Images

You’d think working for the royal family would be a cushy job, but really their staff members are underpaid and unhappy about it. Staff members had to threaten a strike to get their abysmal wages raised a bit.
Next: This habit just makes sense.

15. They use utilities logically

Queen Elizabeth II Hosts Reception With Australian High Commissioner
Space heaters, like the one seen here, heat some rooms at Buckingham Palace.  | John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Why pay to heat 775 palace rooms when you typically stick to a few? Perceptive Buckingham Palace visitors have noticed that Queen Elizabeth opts for cheap space heaters in certain rooms rather than keep the heat cranked all over just because she can afford to.
Read more: 10 Bizarre Rumors About the Royal Family That Aren’t True
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