Royal Protocol 101: What to Do (and Not Do) When Meeting Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II


You find yourself standing in front of Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. Perhaps you’ve been practicing your curtsy for months, waiting for this very moment, or perhaps you’ve managed to bump in to HM on the Tube…(highly unlikely, but let’s just go with it).

Whether it was anticipated or not, this meeting invokes some serious protocol. No fear, here’s your personal guide to acing the situation with poise and grace, like HM herself.

Do: Stand when HM enters the room.

Do: Curtsy, if you’re a woman, and bow, if you’re a man. If you are not a subject of the Queen, you are not required, as she is not the head of your country. However, a polite nod is respectful.

Do: Address Her Majesty as Your Majest. Not Your Royal Highness, etc. After which you should address her as ma’am, rhyming with “ham.”

Do: Keep handshake brief.*


Don’t: Touch the Queen.

Don’t: Reach for a handshake from HM. Wait until she instigates one, if at all.

Don’t: Speak unless spoken to. No matter who you are, you must wait.

Don’t: Ask questions off topic. HM will lead the topic of conversation. Furthermore, do not ask about royal family gossip.

Off to study and practice my subtle curtsy (because even though I’m American, I don’t think I could resist)!