Curtsy or Handshake? This Is the Surprising Protocol to Follow When Meeting Queen Elizabeth

Meghan Markle has perfected her curtsy since becoming a member of the royal family, but not everyone is obligated to bow before Queen Elizabeth

Meghan Markle has perfected her curtsy since becoming a member of the royal family, but not everyone is obligated to bow before Queen Elizabeth.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were criticized online for shaking hands with the 92-year-old monarch rather than offering a bow and curtsy when they met for the first time on Friday.

However, the Trumps didn’t break royal protocol.

“There are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family,” according to the royal family’s official website, “but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.”

The explanation continues, “For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.”

While visiting Windsor Castle in April 2016, former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama also greeted the Queen with a handshake.

The President Of The United States And Mrs Trump Meet HM Queen
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Britain Trump Visit, Windsor, United Kingdom - 13 Jul 2018
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Of course, there is still proper etiquette to follow. According to the royal family’s website, Queen Elizabeth should be addressed as “Your Majesty” upon presentation, and subsequently as “Ma’am.”

Male members of royals should be greeted as “Your Royal Highness” and subsequently “Sir,” while women are to be first addressed as “Your Royal Highness” then subsequently as “Ma’am.”

G20 leaders attend a reception at Buckingham Palace, London, Britain - 01 Apr 2009

Royal rules are sometimes made to be broken. Although touching the Queen is generally frowned upon, Michelle Obama warmly wrapped her arm around the monarch during a 2009 reception at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth appeared to not mind the gesture, responding by putting her own arm around the first lady’s waist.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating didn’t make out as well — he was dubbed the “Lizard of Oz” by tabloids after touching the Queen in 1992, according to Time. Another Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, was also criticized for laying hands on Queen Elizabeth to guide her through a crowd in 2000.

Out-Sourcing Royal Windsor Cup Polo match, Windsor, UK - 24 Jun 2018
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Last month, Susan Sarandon ignored the custom of being presented to Queen Elizabeth — the actress simply walked up and introduced herself at the Royal Windsor Cup polo match.

Sarandon was likely unaware of the tradition, but the Queen seemed to enjoy her company all the same. The monarch offered a big smile while her husband, Prince Philip, 97, appeared not to recognize Sarandon. U.K. outlet the Daily Express reported that he leaned across his wife seemingly to get a better look at the face of their visitor.

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