How To Act Around The Queen

Ken AshfordRandom MusingsLeave a Comment

QueenQueen Elizabeth 2.0 is in the country, and I’m sure we’re all in need of a refresher course on how to behave in case we run into her.  Fortunately, the Washington Post delivers, sourcing Robert Lacey, the queen’s biographer and royal historian:

1. Try to relax and be natural.

2. You don’t have to curtsy or bow. That requirement went out a generation ago, although some older people still do it out of habit.

3. Address the queen as "Your Majesty" or "Ma’am." ‘Liz’ or ‘Elizabeth’ don’t go down well," Lacey said. "And you wouldn’t shout out, ‘Queen!’ or ‘Queenie!’ That would be considered rather aggressive."

4. Don’t assume intimacy. Lacey said people the world over have watched the queen grow up in the public eye, and some therefore feel they know her and presume an intimacy with her. Bad mistake, according to Lacey, who said even more people think they are pals with the queen since the Hollywood movie "The Queen."

5. Be careful not to affect a British accent.

6. Ideally, it is best to wait for the queen to offer her hand to shake, rather than reaching for hers. Lacey cautioned against too firm a handshake, reminding that the queen, who turned 81 on April 21, appreciates "a gentle touch."

7. If the queen lingers, feel free to engage her in friendly small talk. "Anything in the public realm is allowable," Lacey said. "But not, ‘My family history shows that I am related to the Royal Family,’ things like that." It’s simply too familiar.

8. Inquiring about the well-being of Prince Charles or the queen’s other children is fine. Lacey said you should also feel free to ask about Prince William and Prince Harry, because the queen is a proud granny, like any other. Is it all right to mention Princess Diana? The queen and Diana had a famously complicated relationship before Diana died in a car crash in 1997. "Maybe it’s the mischievous in me, but I think, ‘Give it a go!’ " he said. "She’s been doing this for more than half a century. I think she rather enjoys it these days when taboos get broken and there’s something that breaks the mold."

9. And if you do mess up, don’t worry. "You’re not going to end up in the Tower of London," Lacey said.

I think #5 would be the hardest for me.  I’d probably start immitating her.