The Commonwealth Games is one of those rare sports events when geopolitics takes a firm back seat to athletic achievement. Given it’s only open to Commonwealth athletes, there’s always a heavy royal contingent. Its locale in Glasgow means that virtually the entire Windsor clan has decamped to Scotland. The timing helps: The Queen always starts her two-month Scottish holiday at this time. This event is heavy on the casual and light on formality—except when it comes to the Queen, though she relaxed enough to be snapped retouching her lipstick during the opening ceremony.
Here are five royal take-aways from Glasgow:
1. Regal photobombing is the new must-have photo. Selfies are oh-so common. On the other hand, being photobombed by the sovereign is as rare as a private audience with Her Majesty herself. When Australian athlete Jayde Taylor was taking selfies with teammates, she got the once-in-a-lifetime shot when Queen Elizabeth II walked into her camera’s range and smiled directly at them. No one is quite sure whether the Queen knew what she was doing—one can imagine Prince Harry explaining “photobombing” and “selfie” to his 88-year-old granny—but the result is a pure delight. And, unlike the London Olympics, she didn’t have to “jump” out of a helicopter with James Bond.
The rather more predictable picture is here:
—Chris Jackson (@ChrisJack_Getty) July 24, 2014
2. Wear regally neutral colours and, for heaven’s sake, don’t chose a brooch that can suggest the head of the Commonwealth loves one of its 53 member nations more than the other.
3. ”Lesser royals” can be partisan. Prince Edward, his wife, Sophie, and their children, Louise and James, have attended every day. And they aren’t afraid to get into the spirit of the games, as when Sophie and Louise applauded England’s victory over Malaysia in a preliminary field hockey match.
—Chris Jackson (@ChrisJack_Getty) July 27, 2014
4. Laugh at mess-ups, because they’ll happen. During the opening ceremony, producers could only watch with horror as the Commonwealth Games Federation president struggled to open the Queen’s Baton, which went around the world and contains her message to the organization. Thankfully, Sir Chris Hoy stepped forward to pry the baton’s top open. The next day, the six-time Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist was stopped and asked for his identification as he entered the velodrome—the Chris Hoy velodrome. Fortunately, his sense of humour was intact; he tweeted that the security person was just doing her job.
One WAS amused! The Queen laughs off baton fumble. http://t.co/C9pUM3ZsEu
—SmittenbyBritain (@SmittnbyBritain) July 24, 2014
5. Put down the technology and enjoy the show. The Three Musketeers—William, Kate and Harry—are in the stands, just as they were during the London Olympics, but seem a bit distracted. Perhaps they need Chris Hoy to hop back on his bicycle; their last big public PDA was hugging when Hoy picked up his fifth gold at the 2012 Games.
— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) July 28, 2014
ADVICE: Hey, Prince Harry, can you take your brother shopping? He needs to ditch those dad jeans. Pronto.