After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a lot has changed in the Royal Family. King Charles III is the monarch – but other titles have also been reassigned. But what about etiquette?
There has been a lot of buzz about royal titles in recent weeks. So Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry surprised with the news that their children Archie and Lilibet are now Prince and Princess. Buckingham Palace also announced that Prince Edward, Charles’ youngest brother, will inherit the title of Duke of Edinburgh from the late Prince Philip.
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Royal Family: Knicks etiquette confused
“Happy Birthday to the new Duke of Edinburgh today! The King bestowed the Duchy of Edinburgh on his brother Prince Edward on his 59th birthday,” the palace wrote on Instagram on March 10. Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, the former Countess of Wessex, was also made Duchess of Edinburgh. Their son James, Viscount Severn, will henceforth be referred to as Earl of Wessex – his father’s former title.
The title of any member of the royal family has etiquette implications, among other things, especially if they wear an HRH – His/Her Royal Highness. “The general rule of thumb is that a HM does not curtsey to another HM,” Myka Meier, author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy, told People magazine.
And yet various media recently reported that Duchess Sophie was relieved that in the future she no longer had to curtsy in front of Duchess Meghan. The statements by alleged friends of the Duchess are surprising, after all, she has never had to curtsy in front of Meghan.
Bow and curtsy before king and king’s wife
Because according to the rule, the only thing that applies is: All members of the family only have to curtsy (in the case of women) or bow (in the case of men) in front of King Charles and Queen Camilla. There is an exception if you have already seen him or her during the day. Recordings of the British royal family at a Christmas concert in December last year showed this clearly. Princess Kate curtseyed to Charles and Camilla, but Prince William didn’t. He had probably already seen his father and mother-in-law. Likewise on Commonwealth Day this year: Princess Kate caused surprise because she did not curtsy in front of Charles. The explanation is simple: she had already met him before the event.
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In general, the British royal family is not too strict when it comes to etiquette. That is already clear on the Royals’ official website. “There are no mandatory rules of conduct when meeting the Queen or any member of the royal family, but many people wish to follow the traditional forms,” it said. As a citizen of a Commonwealth country, the rules are generally a bit stricter. As a non-Commonwealth citizen, however, you are not required to follow the greeting etiquette.
In her Netflix documentary, Duchess Meghan said that the curtsy surprised her at first. And Prince Harry said: “How do you explain that you bow to your grandmother? And that you have to curtsy? Especially to an American woman… that’s strange.” After retiring to the US, Meghan and Harry may no longer officially use their HRH titles, but they still retain them – and with them the privileges of etiquette.
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I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.