Can The Royal Family Get Drunk?

There's no question that members of the British royal family lead pretty unique lifestyles. As such, there's a whole list of rules and customs they must follow, most of which seem outdated in the modern world. According to CBS News, for example, tradition says British royalty must weigh in both before and after Christmas dinner, redefining what it means to "clean your plate" — should a royal fail to gain weight from the festive meal, that supposedly means they didn't enjoy it.

But what about a glass of wine, beer, or hard liquor — or two, or three — before, during, or after that feast? Are members of the British royal family even allowed to drink, much less get drunk? Living life in the spotlight as they do, one might imagine The Firm — as British Royalty is sometimes called — play it pretty straight and narrow whenever alcohol is involved. But they're actually pretty lax when it comes to their boozy beverage of choice, The Cut points out.

Shortly before she died at the age of 96, in fact, the late queen was advised to give up her evening martini for health reasons, per Vanity Fair. Her favorite cocktail was reportedly a gin and tonic, Hello! writes. As far as excessive drinking, though — which is never advisable for both monarchy and commoner alike — there's no hard and fast rule that says they can't. There is some precedent, though, that British royalty will intervene should alcohol become an issue.

Well-known royals have experienced alcohol use issues in the past

Though royals are allowed to drink, there are a few customs they must follow should they choose to, such as proper wine drinking etiquette — always hold your glass by the stem — or the do's and don'ts of drinking internationally, per local custom. Members of British royalty are also never allowed to accept drinks from someone they don't know (good advice, really), and they can never drink alcohol at a garden party. Those tend to end by 6 p.m., or the unofficial royal happy hour.

Despite all that, the royals are only human, after all, and a few well-known members of the family have experienced alcohol use issues in the past. King Henry VIII was known to indulge in alcohol, and Queen Elizabeth's own sister, Princess Margaret, who died in 2002, also had highly publicized substance use issues. Margaret was in and out of mental health treatment all throughout her life, but by the time she died, she reportedly gave up alcohol.

As a young man, Prince Harry took after after his troubled royal great-aunt

As Prince Harry, King Charles III's second son, revealed in his 2023 memoir "Spare," he, too, had periods of his life when his drinking and substance use crossed the line, TODAY writes. In a "60 Minutes" interview promoting his book, Harry said he drank and took drugs to "distract myself from whatever I was thinking." But by the time the book was published, he had turned things around. "I'm really glad I changed because rather than getting drunk, falling out of clubs, taking drugs, I had now found the love of my life," he said, referring to his wife, Meghan Markle. "And I now have the opportunity to start a family with her."

Reports Harry had issues with drugs and alcohol weren't exactly breaking news, either. At around age 17, Harry was reportedly sent to a rehabilitation center by his father, King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, BBC News reports. There were also some alcohol-fueled paparazzi disputes at that time. By 2019, Harry left all that behind, though, Express writes. As one source told the outlet, that was no small achievement for the British royal, "considering he's been a pretty brutal drinker since he was a young teenager."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).