1. Dying is illegal in the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are an official royal palace, and anyone that dies in a royal palace is technically allowed a state funeral. This legislation was brought in to ensure those ‘orrible MPs were not entitled to a right usually reserved for kings and queens.
2. It is illegal to wear a suit of armour in the Houses of Parliament
David Cameron is prohibited from wearing his weekend get-up in the House of Commons by the 1313 Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour.
3. It could be considered treason to place a stamp bearing the Queen upside-down
Probably not as serious as dangling the actual Queen upside-down.
4. All beached whales must be offered to the monarch
‘Finders, keepers’ is not applicable here. According to a 14th century statute, the king would own the head of any whale to arrive on the shores of Blighty (such as the humpback above, which found its way into the Thames in 2009), while the queen would receive the tail in order to be supplied with whalebone for corsets.
5. It is illegal to allow your furry friend to, erm, ‘have carnal knowledge of’ a royal pet
Steer clear of those corgis, folks. A law passed during the reign of George I (1714-1727) says: “The severest of penalties will be suffered by any commoner who doth permit his animal to have carnal knowledge of a pet of the Royal House.”
6. It is illegal to stand sockless within 100 yards of the Queen
“Kate! Wills! What are you doing?! Thanks to a law enacted by Edward VI (1547-1553), you’ll need to put some shoes on before meeting Grandma Liz.”
7. It is a legal requirement for males aged 14 and over to practice longbow for two hours a week
The law also states you must be supervised by the local clergy, so no blasphemy if an arrow goes askew.
8. You can shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow in Chester
It’s the legal loophole Bane and the Joker missed. Though, there are a few terms and conditions to follow before you think about bumping off Welsh-born Christian Bale. An ancient law dictates you have to be inside the city walls and it has to be after midnight.
9. Similarly, in York, you can shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow
Though not on Sundays. Because that would be mean. (Above: James McAvoy talking about his kilt-wearing techniques).
10. It is illegal to be in charge of a cow, horse or steam engine while intoxicated
The cow can be as drunk as it wants, but you have to be stone cold sober to look after it, according to the Licensing Act 1872.
11. It is illegal to drive cows through urban streets between 10am and 7pm
The Metropolitan Streets Act 1867 forbids this “except with the permission of the Commissioner of the Police”. Probably not worthy of a 999 call, though.
12. It is illegal to flag down a cab in London if you have the plague
Admittedly, this may only be a problem if you’ve arrived in London from the 14th century.
13. It is illegal to fly a kite in the street
The Victorians cracked down on fun with the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. They believed kites spread diseases.
14. It is illegal to carry a plank of wood on the pavement
“Jonny, I’m arresting you on suspicion of carrying a plank of wood on the pavement as outlined in the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.”
15. A man can urinate in public as long as it is on the rear wheel of his vehicle
Also, his right hand must be placed on the vehicle. Emptying your bladder on a police car is not recommended, though.
16. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself wherever she wants to, including, if she requests, in a police officer’s helmet
Ladies! No more dashes to the nearest loo, just find your local bobby instead.
17. It is illegal to eat a mince pie on Christmas Day
The law was brought in by Oliver Cromwell during his buzzkill days, when he also outlawed Maypole dancing.