This Is Exactly What to Do If You Meet a Member of the Royal Family

Updated: Mar. 28, 2022

We should all be so lucky.

This-Is-Exactly-What-Meet-Member-Royal-Family-Editorial-7625975a-Martyn-Hayhow-EPA-REX-ShutterstockMartyn Hayhow/EPA/REX/Shutterstock
On a long-awaited vacation to London, you make sure to hit all the iconic landmarks: Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and of course, Buckingham Palace. The home of the royal family is more majestic and awe-inspiring than you dreamed it could be. The only thing that would make your visit more perfect would be meeting… Nah, that’s impossible.

But wait. There’s a commotion at the end of the hall. You rush down as politely as possible—and see the entire royal family making a surprise appearance for their visitors! This has to be a dream. You’ve heard of the times the royals have broken their own protocol, but you never thought you’d be there to witness one!

All right, so the chances of this scenario playing out in real life are slim. But would you know what to do if you did meet someone in the royal family? It’s better to be prepared with a hopeful heart than get caught off guard when the guards announce, “Presenting Her Majesty, The Queen.”

Surprisingly, there aren’t obligatory rules you need to follow when greeting any royal, but these traditional guidelines ensure you address them with the respect and dignity their titles deserve.

Upon meeting a member of the royal family, men do a neck bow (tilting the head only) and women make a small curtsey. Shaking hands is also acceptable.

If you’re introduced to Queen Elizabeth, first address her as “Your Majesty” and then “Ma’am” subsequently. Any other members of royal family should first be addressed as “Your Royal Highness.” Men of royalty are subsequently called “Sir” and women of royalty “Ma’am.”

Once you strike up a conversation, make sure you never utter these words banned from the royal family’s vocabulary, lest you risk getting the royal side-eye. If all is going well, try to impress them by using some of their own royal etiquette in front of them. Who knows? Maybe they’ll break protocol again and invite you to tea.