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Royal Etiquette: 9 Critical Rules for Meeting Queen Elizabeth II

Author: BRIGHT SIDETime: 2024-01-04 18:25:00

Table of Contents

The Appeal of Meeting Royalty

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.

Brush Up on Etiquette

By brushing up on etiquette before meeting royalty, you can avoid potentially embarrassing faux pas. Know the proper forms of address, gifting customs, and rules around things like sitting and eating. With the right etiquette knowledge, your royal rendezvous can go smoothly without any rude surprises.

Rule #1: Avoid Underdressing

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.

Rule #2: Don't Show 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 it if you show up with a pair of socks. Gifts should fit the occasion and carry some symbolic meaning.

Rule #3: No Touching the Queen

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.

Rule #4: Use Formal Greetings

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.

Rule #5: Don't Sit, Eat, or Leave Before the Queen

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 Queen'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.

Rule #6: Don't Speak Out of Turn

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. Feel free to talk to the person on your right though.

Rule #7: Avoid Personal Questions

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.

Rule #8: Use Proper Forms of Address

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.

Rule #9: Don't Use French Words

It’s considered impolite to use French words when speaking with the Queen, or any member of the royal family for that matter. This might seem a little petty, but you can’t expect one thousand years of rivalry to wear off overnight.


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.


Q: What is the proper way to greet Queen Elizabeth?
A: The proper way to greet Queen Elizabeth is with a formal bow or curtsy. Men should bow from the shoulders, lowering their heads. Women should curtsy by putting the right foot behind the left and bending the knees outward.

Q: What kind of gift is appropriate to bring when meeting the Queen?
A: An appropriate gift when meeting Queen Elizabeth would be something symbolic of your home city or country, or something commemorating the occasion. It should have some meaningful significance.

Q: What is the correct way to address Queen Elizabeth?
A: The correct way to address Queen Elizabeth is as "Your Majesty" or "Ma'am".

Q: Is it okay to ask Queen Elizabeth personal questions?
A: No, it is best to avoid personal or potentially controversial questions when speaking with Queen Elizabeth or any member of the royal family.

Q: Can you sit down before Queen Elizabeth sits down?
A: No, guests should wait for Queen Elizabeth to sit down before taking a seat themselves.

Q: What do you wear when meeting Queen Elizabeth?
A: When meeting Queen Elizabeth, formal attire is required. For men this means a suit and for women a dress, skirt, or pantsuit.

Q: Can you take a selfie with Queen Elizabeth?
A: No, taking a selfie with Queen Elizabeth would be considered inappropriate.

Q: Is it okay to use French words when speaking to the Queen?
A: No, it is considered impolite to use French words when speaking with Queen Elizabeth or members of the royal family.

Q: What if you accidentally address Queen Elizabeth by her first name?
A: Accidentally addressing Queen Elizabeth by her first name is a major faux pas. She should always be addressed using formal titles such as "Your Majesty".

Q: Who speaks to Queen Elizabeth first at formal dinners?
A: At formal dinners, it is customary for Queen Elizabeth to address the guest of honor seated to her right first before speaking to other guests.