9 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Meeting the Queen – Whether you live in a monarchy or not, there’s something inherently appealing about meeting royalty in person. While most of us will probably never get that chance, it couldn’t hurt to brush up on your court etiquette, just in case. No one wants to wind up being thrown out of Her Majesty’s dinner party, so remember the rules if you want to avoid making a royal fool of yourself. By the way, let’s just assume right here that burping or some other release of gas is forbidden, so we’ll stick to the main ones.
1. Under Dressing
We all agree that first impressions are important,and it’s twice as important when greeting royalty. You might think you look good in your tee shirt and jean shorts, and it might even be true, but that kind of outfit would get you thrown out of even the least formal royal gathering. While there’s no explicit dress code for visiting the royal family, you should stick to formal wear. This means suits for men and either a dress or jacket and skirt for women. If the First Lady couldn’t wear a sweater in Buckingham Palace, you better be careful if you don’t want to end up all over the British tabloids.
2. Showing up Empty-Handed
Everybody likes presents, and the Queen is no exception. The practice of presenting the Monarch with a gift is a tradition going back centuries,and respecting it is a great way to get on Her Majesty’s good side. But don’t think you can give the Queen just any old thing; Her Majesty won’t like itif you show up with a pair of socks. Gifts should fit the occasion and carry some symbolic meaning.
It should be something representative of the city or country you’re visiting from, or that commemorates whatever event she’s attending. It’s almost never a surprise when the Queen goes places, so use your planning time wisely to think about an appropriate gift. Don’t panic. You’ve already gotten an audience with the royal family; this should be the easy part.
3. Touching the Queen
Have you ever wanted just to run up and give somebody a hug?, how about a pat on the shoulder?, maybe just a little nudge on the arm?How about just offering a firm handshake to a new acquaintance?, most of the time there’s no harm done, but when it comes to royalty, you’re better off keeping your hands to yourself.
While the Queen might reach out a hand for you to shake, it’s considered bad manners for guests to initiate any sort of physical contact with the reigning monarch. As with most things on this list, you’re better off just letting the Queen take the lead. She’s been the United Kingdom’s head of state for close to seventy years; I’m guessing she knows the rules by now.
4. Overly Casual Greetings
So, reaching out to give the queen a handshake is a big no-no, but saying “Yo, Queen, how’s it going?” isn’t going to win you many friends either. The correct way to greet Her Majesty is with a formal bow or curtsy. Don’t worry, no one’s expecting you to hurl yourself at the floor. Men are expected to bow from the shoulders, just lowering their heads out of respect.
If you’re a woman and don’t know how to curtsy, don’t worry, just put your right foot behind the left with most of your weight on the left foot. Then, bend your knees outward while keeping your back straight. Stay in that position for a second or two, before rising back up. See?, that wasn’t too bad, was it?”“But wait!” You might be saying, “I’ve seen news clips of American politicians meeting with the Queen, how come they didn’t have to bow?”. Technically, visiting foreigners don’t have to bow or curtsy, but unless you’re representing your government in some capacity, it’s still the polite thing to do, and a little politeness can go a long way.
5. Sitting Down, Eating or Leaving before the Queen
So, it’s been a long day, and your feet are seriously aching. Wouldn’t you like to take a load off?, these fancy chairs sure look comfortable. Well, stop right there!, has the Queen sat down yet?, no?, then it looks like you’re going to have to keep standing a little while longer, since it’s really rude to sit down while the Queens’s still on her feet. A similar rule applies to eating.
I know you’re hungry and that roast duck smells great, but guests are expected to wait patiently for the Queen to begin her meal before digging in. It’s also very improper to get up and leave without permission, or to arrive late. But quite frankly, that’s just good ‘ol fashioned manners. You wouldn’t want to be rude to the Queen, would you?I wouldn’t, have you seen Her Majesty’s corgis?, terrifying!
6. Speaking Out of Turn
Things have been going pretty well for you lately. Not only have you been given the rare opportunity to have a face to face with the Queen, but you’ve also even been invited to an official state dinner at Buckingham Palace. More than that, Her Majesty was so impressed with whatever you did to earn royal attention,that you’ve been seated next to the Queen herself!It was bobsledding, wasn’t it?, it’s always bobsledding.
But the one thing bobsledding can’t do is save you from embarrassment at formal functions. Before speaking to the Queen, it’s important to take note of where exactly you’ve been seated. As a rule, the guest of honor will be seated directly to the Queen’s right, and it’s customary for Her Majesty to address them first. In general, it’s considered good form to let the Queen begin the conversation anyway. So if you follow that rule, you won’t need to worry about the correct speaking order. Feel free to talk to the person on your right though; maybe they’re into bobsledding too?.
7. Asking Personal Questions
It finally happened. Queen Elizabeth the Second is talking to you. The meeting of a lifetime is finally underway. This is your one chance to get to know the real Queen, and you’re just bursting with questions. Whoa there, you better slow down and think about what you’re going to say. You might be super curious to hear the truth about some royal family drama, but the Queen is definitely the wrong person to be hassling with personal questions. While there isn’t a list of forbidden or approved topics, it’s best to steer away from anything private or potentially controversial. If Her Majesty asks your opinion on something, go ahead and give it. Just remember to be polite in your responses.
8. Addressing Royalty by Name
Okay, so far, you’ve made a good impression. You dressed properly, bowed when you were supposed to and waited for the queen to sit before taking a load off. She’s finished her chat with the guest of honor and has now turned to you. You avoided any questions about her politics or personal life, and all seems right in the world.
Then, suddenly and without warning, tragedy strikes. You accidentally addressed Her Majesty by her first name, and now all eyes are on you and your social faux pas. “So Liz, what’s the buzz around the palace these days?, ”The Queen is not impressed. While there have been some instances of fellow monarchs addressing one another on a first-name basis, unless you’re King Harold of Norway, you shouldn’t even think about addressing The Queen by her name.
Incidentally, if you ARE the King of Norway, thanks for watching, Your Majesty. You mind writing something down in the comments for me?, and YOU can probably skip ahead to the next entry on our list. Unless you can’t get enough of my soothing voice, in which case, this is the place to be. Now as I was saying, Queen Elizabeth should always be addressed as Your Majesty or Ma’am,while other members of the royal family should be addressed as Your Royal Highness and either Sir or Ma’am, depending on the royal’s gender. As a rule, guests should always use the longer, more formal title for introductions, while Sir and Ma’am are acceptable once the conversation is underway.
9. Using French Words
Another thing that’s important to remember is that when speaking with the Queen, or any member of the royal family for that matter,it’s considered impolite to use French words. This might seem a little petty, but you can’t expect one thousand years of rivalry to wear off overnight. “That’s fine,” you might be thinking, I don’t speak French anyway.
Really?, if you’re an American, do you call it a toilet or a loo?, do you call it perfume or scent?, if you answered “toilet” or “perfume,” congratulations, you’re speaking French. While most Brits wouldn’t take offense to this sort of language, you’ll get a few sneers in polite society, and you won’t find any politer society than at Buckingham Palace.
While breaking the rules of etiquette probably won’t get you thrown into the Tower of London in chains, or even out on the street, you should be on your best behavior if you want your royal rendezvous to go smoothly. Oh and that selfie with the Queen?, sure, go for it. No, not really. So, do you think you’re ready to meet Queen Elizabeth?. Which of these do’s and don’ts surprised you the most?, let me know in the comments.