The Queen is due in Malta this week, but how should you act if you get the privilege to meet her?
First things first. It is important to understand The Queen’s role. Unlike other heads of state, The Queen doesn’t represent her country; she is her country. She is the embodiment of the State and represents 1,000 years of majesty.
The Queen is also different from other heads of state in the fact that she doesn’t need a passport, doesn’t need a driving licence, and doesn’t need to carry money. All those are issued in the United Kingdom in her name, as are stamps, and she therefore doesn’t need them. Other heads of state do, because they are appointed to their role and are not born into it. Her determiner, ‘the’, is also always capitalised because she is The Queen in her own right and not simply a Queen, which often means that she married a King. And now, my editor has to go through the whole above paragraph again to change it back to capital T.
But, all that apart, how should you handle the situation?
Buckingham Palace insists that there are no obligatory codes of behaviour, but that you should simply be courteous and polite. Even so, there are some traditional forms of etiquette you should follow when meeting The Monarch. And they go as follows:
You should always wait until you are introduced to Her Majesty, or until she makes contact, to speak. Upon Presentation, the correct way to address her is as ‘Your Majesty’. This is similar to when meeting an ambassador or a bishop, when you would refer to them as ‘Your Excellency’.
From then on, you may address her as ‘Ma’am’ (‘Ma’am’ as in ‘ham’ not ‘marm’ as in ‘palm’). I use the modal verb ‘may’ and not ‘can’ because upon introduction and first greeting, she automatically bestows that privilege.
Once the conversation ends, you should once again address Her Majesty as just that, ‘Her Majesty’.
If you are a citizen of the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Country, which we are, then you should give a bow if you are a man, or curtsey if you are a woman. Americans, however, due to the Revolution, do not need to bow or curtsey; they may simply shake her hand gently.
You may NOT hug The Queen, nor are you allowed to call her ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Liz’, ‘Lizzy’, ‘Queenie’ or any other nickname, name or title other than ‘Her Majesty’ and ‘Ma’am.’ You should also never give your back to The Queen, even if she’s not talking to you.
So there you have it! The quintessential etiquette guide to meeting The Queen! Good luck!
Would you like to meet The Queen? Why (not?)
Let us know in the comments section below.