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What Rules You’ll Have to Follow If You Ever Happen to Meet a Royal

Not many people meet members of the British royal family in person. If you ever happen to be one of these few people, you’ll have to follow certain rules of the royal protocol to show your respect. From curtsying and bowing to choosing a proper topic for a conversation, there are so many things to bear in mind, and every detail matters.

We at Bright Side studied the royal protocol and picked several important rules that we need to follow when meeting the members of the British royal family. And don’t miss the bonus paragraph at the end where we explain what happens if you breach royal etiquette.

Learn proper greetings.

It’s important to know how to address the members of the British royal family in the right way.

  • When you address the queen, the right way to do this is by saying, “Your Majesty,” and subsequently, “ma’am.”
  • Other members of the royal family should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness,” and subsequently, “sir” for male members of the royal family and “ma’am” for female members of the royal family.

Master the art of curtsying.

Men are expected to accompany their greeting by a neck bow, while women do a curtsy. Curtsying the proper way is a true art that needs to be mastered. The experts on royal etiquette explain how to curtsy:

  • While standing, transfer your weight onto your left foot.
  • Place your right foot behind and a bit outside the ankle of the standing foot.
  • Bend your front knee, but don’t go too low.

While curtsying, maintain eye contact with the royal person you are greeting. Remember that your curtsy should be a discreet movement that lasts for a couple of seconds.

Don’t touch the queen.

You can only shake Her Majesty’s hand if she offers it, but you shouldn’t initiate other types of physical contact. In the picture below, Zara Tindall is showing her affection toward Queen Elizabeth II, while touching her hands and approaching to give her a kiss. Zara is the Queen’s granddaughter, and she is allowed to greet Her Majesty in this fashion, but this is surely not the way a regular visitor should behave.

Know when to talk and what to say.

Don’t ask the queen or other members of the royal family personal questions and keep your conversation within small-talk topics. If you are meeting Her Majesty, she is supposed to take the lead. Don’t start the conversation first, and wait until you are spoken to.

It may sound somewhat unusual, but the way your conversation with the queen unfolds will greatly depend on where you will be sitting. You shouldn’t expect to be addressed by Her Majesty if you sit on her left side during a meal. According to the royal protocol, the queen first talks to the guests of honor who are sitting on her right side. During the second course of the dinner, she switches to the guests sitting on her left.

Don’t turn your back on Her Majesty.

Turning your back on the queen is considered to be rude. You also shouldn’t leave an event before the queen or other member of the royal family leaves. If you still need to leave earlier, you need to ask for permission through a private secretary.

Bonus: What happens if you break these rules

Let’s imagine that you got so carried away when meeting Her Majesty or other members of the British royal family that you completely forgot all the rules we’ve just told you about. What happens? The answer is nothing serious.

Quite a few celebrities breached the protocol when meeting royal family members and nothing bad happened. For example, in 2018, actress Allison Janney addressed Kate Middleton as “honey” during one of the events, while being barefoot. However, the Duchess of Cambridge did not turn it into a problem and was “lovely” to Janney, even though that greeting went against royal etiquette. The members of the British royal family seem to have a good sense of humor, and when things go wrong, they know how to deal with it so that no one feels awkward.

Which of these rules surprised you the most and why?

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