July 5th, 2010

Royalty Etiquette Expert Offers Tips For Meeting Queen Elizabeth II

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Queen Elizabeth II is set to visit New York on July 6 and will address the United Nations General Assembly and tour the partially reconstructed site at ground zero.  The queen’s half-day visit will be a whirlwind affair, coming at the end of a nine-day tour in Canada in connection with Canada Day. She is accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Just in case you’re one of the fortunate ones to meet the Queen during her visit to Manhattan you’ll need a crash course in royal etiquette.  Here are seven quick tips to help you appear prepared, polished and sophisticated.

  • When the Queen enters a room, everyone stands.
  • When first meeting the Queen, she should be addressed as “Your Majesty” and then “Ma’am” thereafter. When departing, address her as “Your Majesty” again.
  • By rank, the Duke of Edinburgh is lower than the Queen; thus he is addressed as “Your Royal Highness” (NOT Your Majesty, aka King). After first introductions, he should be addressed as “Sir” and when departing, addressed as “Your Royal Highness” again.
  • Whoever hosts the Queen is expected to walk beside the Royals and make introductions as required.
  • At least in Britain, when the Queen stops eating, you stop as well.
  • In general, there are no obligatory codes of behavior, especially in the U.S. — as we do not recognize the Queen as our Head of Nation.
  • Bowing is not required of U.S. citizens but shaking hands is acceptable. When shaking hands, wait until the Queen extends her hand first before extending yours. In Great Britain and the Commonwealth states, men bow and women curtsy. Men bow their head only, dropping it from the neck. Women perform a small curtsy, placing the right foot behind the left heel and then slightly bending the knees.

Click here to watch my interview with Anderson Cooper where I discuss how The Obamas should meet, greet and have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.

Read more of my tips in The New York Daily News“Queen Elizabeth visits New York City: Rules to live by in case you meet ‘Your Majesty.”

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4 Responses to “Royalty Etiquette Expert Offers Tips For Meeting Queen Elizabeth II”

  1. Niamh O'Leary on July 6th, 2010 11:05 am

    Hi Jacqueline,

    Thanks a million for the tips. The Queen is coming on her very first visit to Ireland next Fall. Even though the United Kingdom are our next door neighbours, our history does not lend itself very highly. This will be her very first visit to the Republic of Ireland. I look forward to teaching my fellow countrymen on the fine art of Royal Etiquette. I hope is well with you and yours.

    Best Wishes,

    Niamh O’Leary

  2. páid on May 9th, 2011 4:43 pm

    I am one of your fellow countrymen Niamh, and in the unlikely event I meet her here there will be no need for etiquette. I will look her in the eye and shake her hand, same as I would do for any visitor.

    I am a free citizen of a republic. No-one is higher or lower than me. And you should remember that that freedom was bought in blood.

    le meas


  3. Wm. on July 20th, 2011 10:16 pm

    Kudos to you, Paid.

    As a free citizen of a different republic, the US, I hope we can base our etiquette on civility and respect for fellow humans — and reject (politely, if possible) the dictates of etiquette based on undue deference.

    Sadly, I doubt many Americans agree with me; British Royalty and its trappings seem more popular in the US than the UK itself.


  4. Vonya on March 12th, 2012 1:41 am

    I’ve always wondered about the origin of such “protocol”…..Who came up with all of these rules of etiquette? Perhaps being a “common” American causes me to question such requirements, but I cannot imagine anyone actually feeling they are so much better than others, especially in the modern world. I believe respect is commanded, not DEmanded and by spending our lives doing things that earn such respect is far better than expecting to be pampered and coddled simply because you were born.

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