Royal etiquette suggests that most royals have to curtsy the future queen when she is with Prince William
Credit: Sipa; Globe

Ah, the complexities of the royal pecking order.

Now that Kate Middleton is on the fast track to royalty, an interesting question of politics at the palace has been raised: Will Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (a.k.a. Prince William‘s stepmother) have to curtsy to the young princess?

The short answer, it seems, is yes.

As the wife of the future king, Kate will hold a senior spot among the women in Queen Elizabeth’s extended family, and the other women (those born to royalty, no less) will curtsy to her.

“A little-known edict issued by the monarch five years ago is about to sink Kate, Princess Anne, the Queen’s cousin Princess Alexandra and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie into a very royal quagmire,” writes Christopher Wilson in the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

A document titled “Precedence Of The Royal Family To Be Observed At Court” was drawn up in 2005 in order to clarify the position of the then highly unpopular Camilla among the royal family. As Prince Charles’s wife, she should have been high up in the order, but instead, she was moved down to appease Princesses Anne and Alexandra.

“Princess Anne, in particular, was extremely chilly towards Camilla and made it clear she had no intention of curtsying to her ever,” a former courtier tells Wilson.

So what does this mean for the newest Princess in town?

As the wife of the future King, Kate will rank second on the pecking order, as long as she is physically with William at royal gatherings. Therefore, Princess Anne, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and a dozen other ladies will rank below her and should curtsy to her.

However, if she is not with her prince, Kate will drop at least four places in the order, and Princesses Anne, Beatrice, Eugenie and Alexandra will outrank her. Kate will always, of course, curtsy to Queen Elizabeth.

As if a bride-to-be didn’t have enough to worry about five months before her wedding.