Mind Your P’s and Qs- Royal Wedding Etiquette and Traditions You Never Knew About

If you’re lucky enough to score an invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding, chances are you already know a little about royal etiquette- after all, their ceremony and guest list are much smaller than Prince William’s 2011 marriage to Kate Middleton, and it’s mostly comprised of fellow members of the royal family, foreign dignitaries, and friends of the couple. However, even if you’re not invited, it’s fun to brush up on royal etiquette, so you can better appreciate the lengths that people go to when they show respect and homage to the crown. Here are a few royal wedding traditions and points of etiquette that you may not know about.

1. Everyone must acknowledge the Queen with a bow or curtsey as she passes by

As the monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth II is the most senior member of the royal family, and her presence is traditionally acknowledged with a bow or curtsey, depending on your gender. Men bow from the head – think of it as a slightly prolonged nod, with your hands by your sides – while women curtsey by crossing their feet at the ankle and dipping their knees slightly. If you want to show the Queen how much you respect and honor her, you can make the bow or curtsey last slightly longer, but there’s no need to do anything showy.

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2. Royals must bow or curtsey to other royals

As you descend down the ranks of royals, it gets a lot more complicated. Women who marry into the royal family immediately take on their husband’s status, so lower-ranking members of the royal family must bow or curtsey to them. However, if they are ever out without their husband, and run into a member of the royal family who is ‘blood royal’ (born into the royal family), they must curtsey to them.

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3. The dress code is not a suggestion

If you’re lucky enough to score an invitation to the royal wedding – or really, any formal royal event – be mindful that the dress code is not a suggestion – it’s a rule. Even if you’re meeting royalty at a private event rather than an official royal occasion, it’s best to dress in a conservative style: no flashy logos, rumpled clothing, or revealing garments allowed. For men, a suit is always a good idea, but for women it’s a little more complicated. Hemlines should be below the knee, shoes should always be close-toed, and your cleavage should not be showing.

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