Do you have to curtsey to members of the royal family?

9 Jan

Sometimes there is very little rhyme and reason to my quest for knowledge. I won’t be reading a book, watching a movie or even sitting through crappy TV; a thought will just jump into my head like chocolate always seems to jump into my mouth (and then on to my thighs).

And so it was my attention turned to the royal family, specifically the notion of having to curtsey to them.

I suspect the seed had been sewn a few days earlier during a workplace debate on whether we would do it. Some people said yes, some people said no and one said if it was good enough for Lady Gaga, it was good enough for her.

However, since it always seems to get the UK press in a tizz when high-profile people such as Julia Gillard don’t do it (and god forbid they should actually touch the monarch), I wanted to know the official position.

Turns out it’s not required, as long as you show due courtesy. As The Family’s own website notes:

There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms.
For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.
On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am’.
For male members of the Royal Family the same rules apply, with the title used in the first instance being ‘Your Royal Highness’ and subsequently ‘Sir’.
For other female members of the Royal Family the first address is conventionally ‘Your Royal Highness’ followed by ‘Ma’am’ in later conversation.

As for the royals themselves, curtseying is quite the minefield of precedence, politics and procedure. I couldn’t quite get to the bottom of it, but I did pick up on one thing – Sophie, Countess of Wessex, has to curtsey to everyone and everyone has to curtsey to the Queen.

And fair call too, given the perks and privileges they enjoy as a member of her family. I would even go so far as to call myself as a fan, so while I was on the website I decided to hunt down 10 things about Her Majesty I didn’t know. Here’s what I came up with. She …

* Speaks fluent French.
* Attended her first football match – the FA Cup Final – in 1953.
* Performed the first ever royal walkabout with Prince Philip during a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1970.
* Sent her first email in 1976 from an army base.
* Received her first corgi, Susan, as an 18th birthday present.
* Introduced a new breed of dog called the dorgi when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund.
*  Sent a congratulations message to the Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing on July 21, 1969. It was micro-filmed and deposited on the moon in a metal container.
* Travelled on the London Underground for the first time in May 1939 when she was still Princess Elizabeth, accompanied by governess Marion Crawford and Princess Margaret.
* Learnt to drive in 1945 when she joined the army.
* Had her official wedding cake made from ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.

All this from her headquarters at Buckingham Palace, so I couldn’t resist reading that fact file too. And here’s three tidbits that took my fancy …

*  The palace has more than 350 clocks and watches looked after by two full-time horological conservators.
* Has its own chapel, post office, swimming pool, staff cafeteria, doctor’s surgery and cinema.
* Electricity was first installed in 1883, in the ball room.

Home sweet home, indeed.

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