Royal Etiquette and Sunglasses: When Can Kate Middleton Sport Sunnies — and When Are Shades Banned?

Princess Kate and Princess Charlotte both made a splash in stylish sunglasses at Wimbledon

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton and Princess Charlotte at Wimbledon in July 2023

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Kate Middleton and Princess Charlotte at Wimbledon in July 2023

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.

Related: Kate Middleton's Royal Style: Every Outfit Worn by the Princess of Wales in 2023...So Far

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton at Wimbledon 2022

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Kate Middleton at Wimbledon 2022

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."

<p>Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage</p> Kate Middleton on the Caribbean tour in March 2022

Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage

Kate Middleton on the Caribbean tour in March 2022

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.

Related: From Kate Middleton to King Charles, Here's Where the Royals Love to Go on Vacation

<p>YUI MOK/POOL/AFP via Getty </p> Queen Elizabeth at a 2018 garden party


Queen Elizabeth at a 2018 garden party

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."

Chris Jackson/Getty President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Queen Elizabeth in 2021
Chris Jackson/Getty President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Queen Elizabeth in 2021

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.

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty</p> Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Bhutan in 2016

Chris Jackson/Getty

Prince William and Kate Middleton visit Bhutan in 2016

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

<p>Chris Jackson/Getty</p> Charles and Camilla in 2015

Chris Jackson/Getty

Charles and Camilla in 2015

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