Being a member of the British royal family isn’t all tea parties and tiaras. They may have access to the very best of everything, but being part of this high-profile family requires serious stamina in order to get through the extensive travel schedules and endless meet-and-greets (Prince Charles, for example, makes over 600 appearances every year). Being fit—and keeping up appearances—is an important part of being royal, whether it’s on the polo field, the tennis court, or in a yoga studio.
An active lifestyle goes with the territory, but luckily, the British royals are a sporty bunch. Queen Elizabeth’s passion for riding is well known, while other family members participate in a whole host of activities, including polo (a longtime favorite of Prince William and Prince Harry), tennis (one of Kate Middleton’s obsessions), and swimming (Prince George and Princess Charlotte took their first strokes in the pool at Buckingham Palace). Here’s a look at how 14 key members of the British royal family stay fit.
1 | Queen Elizabeth
As Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth is the embodiment of “keep calm and carry on” and has been doing just that for decades. But her regular walks around her various castles are also what help her keep fit and carry on.
Whether she’s at Windsor in the winter (as she was this year, self-isolating from the coronavirus) or enjoying her annual summer sojourn in Scotland at Balmoral, Her Majesty makes sure to get in plenty of steps—with her dorgis in tow—to nourish her body and soul. The 94-year-old Queen also loves her horses. She got her own pony when she was just four years old, and she still rides occasionally. And for more fun facts about Her Majesty, check out 13 Secrets About Queen Elizabeth Only Royal Insiders Know.
2 | Prince Philip
He’s not called the “Iron Duke” for nothing—Prince Philip was quite the athlete back in the day. From thundering across the field at a polo match to rowing competitively while in the Navy, the Duke of Edinburgh was a formidable sportsman who kept himself in great shape. How else could the then-96-year-old prince walk into Windsor Chapel for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, just one month after having a hip replacement?
Since retiring from public life in 2017, Philip’s favorite sport has been carriage driving, which he first took up in the early 1970s. The sport involves driving horse-drawn carriages in timed trials and through challenging obstacle courses. He’s even competed in world championships and still heads into Windsor Park every so often with a staffer in tow.
3 | Prince Charles
The Prince of Wales has always been an avid sportsman. In his younger days, he even tried race car driving and scuba diving in addition to his longtime passion, polo. After giving up the sport at 50, Prince Charles has stepped up his fitness routine—he follows a regular exercise regimen, has been going on more hikes, and reportedly does push-ups and crunches before bed.
4 | Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Like her husband, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall loves the great outdoors. When not on official royal tours, she spends leisure time walking in the hills with her dogs at the couple’s countryside retreat in Birkhall. The duchess also tries to keep up with a regular fitness routine. During a royal tour of Singapore to 2017, Camilla said that she does a “bit” of yoga and Pilates, as well as deep breathing to help her relax and unwind.
The Duchess of Cornwall has said, “I think it’s very important as you get older to take exercise and stretch.” And for more exercises to tackle as you age, here are The Best Short Haircuts for Women Over 40,
5 | Prince William
The Duke of Cambridge inherited his father’s love of the sporting life. In his younger days, he was a man in constant motion. Between his years at Eton College and the University of St. Andrews (where he met Kate Middleton), Prince William played on the water polo team, the rugby team, and did cross country running.
Along with Prince Harry, William is an avid polo and rugby player and plays as often as he can in charity matches. He’s a huge football fan and became president of England’s Football Association in 2006—he’s even been known to kick a ball around Kensington Palace. It probably won’t be long before his oldest son, Prince George, follows in his very active footsteps. Read who killed her mother Princess Diana
6 | Kate Middleton
The Duchess of Cambridge has always been sporty, from her days playing field hockey in middle school (she’s still game to pick up a stick now and then on official royal visits) to her short stint as a member of Sisterhood, the women’s team competing in a cross-Channel dragon boat challenge.
Since becoming a royal, Kate stays in shape by regularly enjoying a number of different sports, including running, cycling, rowing, skiing, and tennis. She reportedly had the tennis court remodeled at Anmer Hall, the couple’s country home, as a gift from the Queen before moving in. The busy mother of three is said to work out for an hour a day, but is always up for a nature walk in the country or a swim with her children while in Norfolk.
7 | Prince Harry
After 10 years in the army where he gained lot of physical strength during his two tours of Afghanistan, Prince Harry still finds ways to stay in shape. The super-fit royal reportedly does circuit training, boxing, and cardio.
Before his wedding to Meghan Markle in May 2018, he shed seven pounds by working with a trainer. He even occasionally practices yoga, thanks to Meghan’s influence. (He’s quit smoking, too.) The couple is said to be eyeing several Malibu mansions as their permanent residence in the States, giving Harry the perfect opportunity to embrace the healthy California lifestyle that his wife swears by. Maybe he’ll even take up surfing!
8 | Meghan Markle
The Duchess of Sussex is a well-known devotee of yoga and has been practicing since she was just seven years old. In 2015, in an interview with Best Health magazine, she described yoga as “my thing,” thanks to the influence of her yoga instructor mother, Doria Ragland. Meghan even had a custom-built gym and yoga studio installed in the Sussexes’ now-empty home in Windsor, Frogmore Cottage. The Sun reported that the yoga studio featured “floating” floors, which are used in professional studios.
9 | Princess Anne
10 | The Cambridge Kids
With fitness-loving parents like William and Kate, it’s no surprise that their children are active and outdoorsy. When they’re not running around or exploring the woods near Anmer Hall or swimming in their pool, six-year-old Prince George and five-year-old Princess Charlotte also take weekly tennis lessons and dance lessons. (Two-year-old Prince Louis hasn’t followed in their footsteps just yet.) And they’ll surely grow up to be skillful skiers, thanks to those yearly vacations in the Alps with mummy and papa. And for more cute moments from England’s little princess, check out Princess Charlotte’s Life in Photos.
11 | Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice was on the receiving end of some hurtful comments after photos of her wearing a swimsuit surfaced when she was just 18 years old. As a result, she hired a trainer and got serious about fitness by taking up running and following a low-carb diet. The effects were clearly evident in 2010 when she became the first royal to complete the London marathon.
Then, in 2016, she became the first royal to complete a triathlon that took her to the tip of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy. She celebrated her victory on social media with a joyous photo and caption that read: “After swimming 3,300m biking 140km, running a half marathon and hiking up mount Etna I finally made it.”
12 | Princess Eugenie
13 | Sophie, Countess of Wessex
Sophie, Princess of Wessex, has a passion for cycling that’s kept her healthy and fit—she loves riding her carbon lightweight bike in races all around Britain. According to The Express, the 55-year-old royal has reportedly enlisted army personal trainers to get in shape for competitions. The countess is also an avid swimmer and runner (she runs three miles twice a week). And she uses Pilates to strengthen her core and help her posture.