Here is the perfect British Royal Etiquette 101 guide

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2018 will see the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan! And if you’re one of the lucky ones heading to Britain and you anticipate running into the Queen, Trafalgar has put together a quick guide to British Royal Etiquette. No need to Eliza Doolittle on this one, just follow the lead and you’ll soon be rubbing shoulders with royalty. Just remember though how to set your teacup back down in the right place.

As such a significant part of British identity, the Royal Family has long been a great draw for visitors from across the world. But should you ever meet The Queen, there are a number of rules of Royal etiquette to abide by, with customs deeply rooted in British tradition. From finding out if the Queen is at home, to dining with members of the Royal family, award-winning holidays Trafalgar’s guide to British Royal etiquette covers all the customs you could ever need to know when meeting her Majesty.

How to see when the Queen is home

Whether you’re passing Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle or Sandringham House, you might be interested to know whether the Queen is in residence. The easiest way to tell is by taking a closer look at the palace’s flag. If The Royal Standard is at the top of the flagpole (and not the Union Jack), you know the Queen is at home.

How to act when meeting the Queen

The British Monarchy has relaxed a great deal in recent years, but many people still choose to follow the established rules of British Royal etiquette. On meeting a member of the Royal Family, men traditionally bow from the neck, while women curtsy. In more recent times – despite the general no touching rule – it has also become common to shake hands, but only once they’ve extended their hand to you. And while you’re in Royal company, remember never to turn your back on the Queen.

How to greet Royalty

When meeting the Queen, the correct way to address her is ‘Your Majesty’, and for other members of the Royal Family it’s ‘Your Royal Highness’. After this initial greeting ‘Ma’am’ (pronounced to rhyme with ‘jam’) is typically used for the Queen and other female members of the Royal Family, and ‘Sir’ is used to address the men.

British Royalty

Making conversation

It’s a general rule to keep conversation with the Queen to pleasantries and small talk. Avoid asking any personal or probing questions, and let The Queen initiate the topic of conversation with you. At mealtimes, convention dictates that the Queen first makes conversation with the person seated to her right, then on the next course, she’ll turn to the person on her left; as guests follow suit, the conversation flows.

At meal times, follow the Queen’s lead

 For those fortunate enough to ever receive a Royal invitation to dinner, it can be a nerve-wracking affair. The one rule of dining etiquette that’s universally agreed is to follow the Queen’s lead. Once the Queen is seated, it’s time to sit down, and – according to a rule that dates back through the centuries – once the Queen has stopped eating, you know that’s your cue to stop, too. Finally, if tea is served, ensure the teacup is placed back in the saucer after each sip you take.

Admittedly, not everyone has the opportunity to take tea with the Queen, but with Britain’s resplendent Royal residences to explore, visitors don’t have to miss out on having a Royal experience.

British Royal Etiquette 101 guide

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Trafalgar is one of the most globally awarded guided travel companies and over the last 5 years have collected 46 major travel awards.

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Tracy Burrows85 Posts

    If there is one thing that I have learnt, it is the more I see, the more there is to see! My name is Tracy Burrows and I am the managing editor of Out There Global, a community driven travel magazine platform for cost effective, luxury, unusual and extraordinary but mostly immersive travel ideas around the globe. From Jan 2014 - Dec 2016 I managed the blog (a United Nations World Summit Award Winner: Culture & Tourism 2016 & National Geographic partner). I was also consulting editor at MOZambique Magazine, and contributor at Sawubona Magazine (South African Airways inflight magazine). Prior to my career I obtained a tourism marketing degree, and graduated from a 2 year 'Hospitality Management in Development Program' in California. Following this I acquired a journalism diploma and since it's been all about travel and writing! And my nourishment comes from all those who have impacted me: family; friends; and strangers alike. So thank you for inspiring me, and for joining our journey!


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