Does a Royal Need the Queen’s Permission to Get Married?

Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

Last November, Prince Harry shared his plans to marry American actress Meghan Markle with the public, but it wasn't until March 15, 2018 that their engagement became "official." That's when Queen Elizabeth II released a statement giving her formal consent for the couple to wed. Without it, their marriage would have been considered invalid under a British law that dates back to the 18th century.

According to Town & Country, the 1772 Royal Marriages Act stated that all marriages to a member of the British royal family were subject to the approval of the reigning monarch. The statute [PDF] read: "... every marriage, or matrimonial contract, of any such descendant, without such consent first had and obtained, shall be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever."

This rule received an update in 2013 with the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act. Today, only the first six royals in line to the throne require the monarch's permission to validate their marriages. That means that for Prince Harry—who was fifth in line when he announced his engagement, but knocked into sixth place in April with the birth of His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge—getting Granny's blessing was vital. Meanwhile, Harry's cousin Princess Eugenie (who's ninth in line) will be free to get married this fall with or without a thumbs-up from the Queen.

The Succession to the Crown Act became relevant late last month when Prince William and Kate Middleton welcomed baby Prince Louis into their family. Under the old laws, the birth of a boy would have bumped Princess Charlotte down a peg in the line of succession, but thanks to the new act she's the first female royal to maintain her spot over a younger male sibling.

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Does Washing Your Fruits and Vegetables Really Do Anything?

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iStock

Washing produce is one of those habits that some people follow religiously and others shrug off altogether. If you're someone who struggles to find the motivation to cook in the first place, you might fall into the latter group. But cleaning your fruits and vegetables at home isn't just an outdated precaution: As Popular Mechanics reports, a thorough rinse could mean the difference between a meal that nourishes you and one that leaves you sick.

Produce is one common carrier of norovirus—a foodborne viral infection that triggers such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There's no way to know whether your lettuce is contaminated with harmful bacteria before it hits your plate, but cleaning it with plain tap water does make it safer to eat. According to USA Today, rinsing produce is effective enough to remove 90 percent of the pathogens left on it by the growing, harvesting, and shipping process. Rinsing is also a good way to remove any of the visible matter you don't want eat, such as grit and soil.

Cleaning your fruits and vegetables is definitely an improvement over eating them straight from your crisper drawer, but be warned that this isn't a foolproof way to avoid food poisoning. Water won't remove all the microbes living on the surface of your food, and even an extremely thorough rinse isn't enough to make produce contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria like E. coli safe to eat. But that doesn't mean the risk outweighs the benefits of including produce in your diet.

If you have a pile of veggies that need to be prepared for dinner, the best way to make them safer for consumption is to rinse them under cold water and rub them in a bowl of water, starting with the cleanest items and progressing to the produce that's more soiled. Give all the food a final rinse before moving it to the cutting board. Peeling the outside of your produce and cooking it when possible is another effective way to kill or remove stubborn bacteria.

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What's the Difference Between Pigeons and Doves?

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iStock

To the layman, the difference between pigeons and doves has something to with color, maybe. Or location. Or general appeal (doves usually get much better press than pigeons do). But what’s the actual, scientific difference between doves and pigeons?

As it turns out, there isn’t one. Paul Sweet, the collection manager for the department of ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History, says the difference is more linguistic than taxonomic.

“The word dove is a word that came into English from the more Nordic languages, whereas pigeon came into English from French,” Sweet tells Mental Floss.

Both dove and pigeon refer to the 308 species of birds from the Columbidae family, Sweet says. There’s no difference between a pigeon and a dove in scientific nomenclature, but colloquial English tends to categorize them by size. Something called a dove is generally smaller than something called a pigeon, but that’s not always the case. A common pigeon, for example, is called both a rock dove and a rock pigeon.

“People just have their own classification for what makes them different,” Sweet says. “So in the Pacific, for example, the big ones might get called pigeons and the smaller ones might be called doves, but they’re actually more closely related to each other than they are to other things in, say, South America, that are called pigeons and doves.”

The difference boils down to linguistic traditions, so feel free to tell people you’re releasing pigeons at your wedding or that you’re feeding doves in the park. Scientifically speaking, you’ll be correct either way.

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