Modern Etiquette: Put your best foot forward at a royal event

Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:02am EDT
 
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By Elizabeth Wyse

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The royal wedding is approaching and many people will be pondering the mysteries of royal protocol. In this day and age is bowing and scraping, hand kissing and walking backwards really de rigueur?

TO BOW OR NOT TO BOW?

Although Buckingham Palace has made it quite clear that it is a question of personal choice whether you choose to make the traditional bow or curtsey upon being presented to a member of the royal family, we would strongly advise that this is a tradition that should be observed - particularly when meeting a senior member of the royal family.

Foreign nationals are not expected to bow or curtsey. The bow is from the neck and the curtsey is just a short 'bob' (not a theatrical ground-sweeping gesture).

Naturally, if The Queen offers to shake hands, you should reciprocate with a gentle handshake (no vigorous hand pumps).

The younger princes and princesses, including Prince William and Catherine, may very well neither wish for nor expect this kind of deference, except perhaps on a formal introduction, but a bow or curtsey is a safe default position.

IN CONVERSATION

If you find yourself in conversation with The Queen it is customary to address her as "Your Majesty," and subsequently as "Ma'am" (to rhyme with jam).   Continued...

 
<p>A tourist photographs Union flags hung along Regent Street in celebration of the forthcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in London April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>