Learn the protocol for meeting the royals in New York and Washington, D.C., next week

By Simon Perry
Updated December 03, 2014 12:25 PM
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Danny Martindale/WireImage

So, it’s probably not a good idea to call them by the shorthand “Willkat”.

But if you’re lucky enough to come face-to-face with Prince William and wife Kate, try not to be tongue-tied with formalities.

The relaxed couple simply want to meet as many Americans as possible during their whirlwind visit to New York City (William is also scheduled to make a solo trip to Washington, D.C.) and certainly don’t want people to be tripping up over titles.

Formally, people are expected to address them as “Your Royal Highness” and then, after that, “sir” or “ma’am.” But those close to them say the “relaxed” couple are not sticklers for the exact rules.

A palace source advises that guests at the various functions and occasions attended by the couple from Dec. 7-9 should address them in a way that feels most comfortable.

“When they’re meeting people, they want to have a conversation without the other person worrying too much about how to address them,” the source tells PEOPLE. “The message is, address them in whatever way you feel most comfortable.”

There’s been much light-hearted debate about how to title them, especially the pregnant princess, who’s now back to fulfilling her public royal duties after initially suffering from another bout of severe pregnancy sickness.