Royal Etiquette: Getting It Right With the Queen and Her Family on Jubilee
Britain is gripped by jubilee fever. Across the country, bunting is strung up and picnics and street parties are happening as this weekend sees the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
An additional bank holiday has been issued to mark the occasion, allowing the festivities to span four days.
There is a host of official events to enjoy, including a pageant of more than 1,000 boats traveling up the River Thames, the lighting of 2,012 beacons across the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and a star-studded concert outside Buckingham Palace. The weekend culminates with a carriage procession through London and, of course, the obligatory appearance on Buckingham Palace’s balcony.
For the queen, 2012 has been a busy year, as she and the Duke of Edinburgh have traveled all over the United Kingdom to celebrate her 60 years on the throne.
For the lucky few who get to meet the queen and other members of the royal family, there is plenty of protocol and etiquette that should be strictly observed:
Meeting the Queen
Upon being introduced to the queen, and when leaving, a bow or curtsy is made. The bow is an inclination of the head, not from the waist. The curtsy should be a discreet but dignified bob, with one’s weight on the front foot.
In conversation, address the queen as “Your Majesty,” and subsequently “Ma’am.” When conversing with the queen, substitute “Your Majesty” for “you.” When introducing another person to the queen, simply state the name of the person to be introduced: “May I present Mr. John Smith, Your Majesty?”
Meeting Other Royals
On introduction and on leaving other members of the British royal family, a bow or curtsy is made. Men should bow from the head only, and women should make a small curtsy. It is worth noting that it is acceptable, but less usual, to shake hands. Anyone bearing the title of His or Her Royal Highness should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” for the first time, and subsequently as “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
Younger members of the royal family may not expect or want the deference paid to earlier generations. If you are expecting to be introduced to Prince Harry or Princess Eugenie, for example, it might be helpful to speak to their private secretary or equerry for guidance.
When the queen attends a function (official or private) the host always surrenders his place to Her Majesty, he himself being seated on the queen’s right.
The husband of a lady member of the royal family is accorded precedence immediately after her when both attend a function. Other members of the royal family are given special precedence before all non-royal guests.
The preamble for a speech in the presence of the queen would begin “May it please Your Majesty.”
The first and principal Loyal Toast, as approved by the queen, is “the queen.” The second Loyal Toast is “the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the other members of the royal family.”
It used to be the rule that no guest should leave a function before a member of the royal family, except when prior permission had been obtained. However, when balls and dinners may continue into the small hours, the organizer of the function can warn the private secretary that this rule may not be practical.