Et Cetera: In the Presence of Royalty

William Hubbard observes tradition when meeting the Queen

By Deena C. Bouknight

The official statement from the Royal Household reads, “There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.”

William Hubbard decided for the latter when in 2015 he had the opportunity to be in the presence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. “I had the privilege of meeting Queen Elizabeth on two occasions,” says William. “The first was at Buckingham Palace in February 2015 and the second at Runnymede in June 2015.”

An introduction with the Queen requires consideration of two main aspects of traditional protocol: a neck bow (from the head only) for men, while women are to do a small curtsy. Some prefer simply to shake hands or do a combination, but only if she extends her hand. The correct formal address upon being presented to the Queen is “Your Majesty” and subsequently “Ma’am,” pronounced with a short “a,” as in “jam.”

Perhaps the most well-known breach of protocol is touching the monarch, other than shaking her hand should she extend it, or turning one’s back on her. Other traditional codes of behavior, according to the BBC, are that the Queen must talk or begin eating first and others are to follow her lead; others may sit only if she does so first; and, the Queen must leave an event first unless someone has been given express permission by a private secretary. When meeting the Queen, guests are to be early as they should always arrive before a royal. Visitors should not take photos inside Buckingham Palace as unofficial photography is not permitted in British royal palaces. The Queen is also known not to prefer “selfies.”

At a dinner, the guest of honor is seated to the Queen’s right, and she converses with that person over the first course. During the second course, she speaks with the person on her left and continues to alternate over the following courses. Conversation should be limited to small-talk as asking personal or political questions is considered rude.

William’s two meetings with the Queen went off without a slip (see page 118 for full article). He enjoyed the overall experience, and was especially humbled by the fact that the Queen remembered him during their second introduction a few months later. By that time, assembling with royalty was for William, doddle – as the British like to say.

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