Imagining life as a member of Britain's Royal Family might involve daydreams of lavish spreads consisting of the most exotic, rare and outrageously expensive foods in the most decadent manner. You'd believe that, as a royal, you could stylishly (and politely, of course) glide into any restaurant or kitchen in the world and order any ostentatious dish you wanted.
You'll be surprised to hear, then, of a strict set of rules enforced for the family when they eat out and when they're abroad.
Being a royal means extensive public appearances and official engagements, both within national borders and definitely abroad. Officials have repeatedly reported that Queen Elizabeth, and the rest of the family as well, is expected to keep away from an entire group of food when outside her palace walls – shellfish.
Why would shellfish, such a diverse range of succulent staples like lobster, crabs, clams and shrimp, be off the menu for a family that enjoys many worldly things?
Shellfish is one of the most delicate food items to handle and can easily spoil without proper care, leading to an increased chance that the Queen and her cohort could easily fall ill to food poisoning as compared to other dishes.
The threat of food poisoning is small-time when you think of the risk of Hepatitis A that contaminated shellfish poses to those who come across it. While chlorine water in the United States often eliminates traces of the infection from food items like shellfish, in other developing nations, where the virus could be more common, this might not be the case.
Food poisoning causes symptoms starting almost 6 hours later, but Hepatitis A could not show symptoms of development up until 28 days later. The virus also lasts much longer than food poisoning, where the body slowly sheds the disease through passing stools, and the virus is contagious for nearly three weeks afterwards.
While the threat of food poisoning and other potentially crippling viruses keep the royals away from shellfish, there are other strict rules they're expected to follow in their travels and visits.
The family is advised to refuse any meat on the rare side and exotic dishes that are heavy on fragrant spices outside of their regular diet. They're also told to stay far away from tap water and anything raw that comes into contact with tap water, such as fruit.
The defensive tactics that the Royal Family take to avoid a stomach bug or the more frightening aspect of a serious virus isn't exactly something you should adopt right away – shellfish is a wonderfully diverse food group that can lead to a whole slew of health benefits and tastes amazing, too. But there's something to be gleaned from how the royals watch their diet when outside the British borders: food prep is very important, and educating yourself to understand how seafood handling could affect you in unfamiliar territory is crucial.
The BBC previously reported that Queen Elizabeth faithfully observes all of these rules and some of her own quirks, but you can expect the younger Prince William and the dashing Harry to crack open a lobster here or there. Rules just aren't for every royal, after all.