Royal etiquette is… uh… a lot?
There is a ton of confusing information out there about who bows to whom and who curtsies to whom among the Royal Family, and their official website doesn’t help matters with its vague explanation—which also only seems to apply to members of the public anyway , and hasn’t been updated since Queen Elizabeth’s passing (thanks! Super helpful!).
“There are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms,” the website reads.
“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.”
Ostensibly, when it comes to the monarch, it’s all very straightforward: All members of the Royal Family had to bow or curtsy to Queen Elizabeth, and presumably the same is now true of King Charles and Queen Camilla (that is, everyone with a” His or Her Majesty” designation).
Some reports insist that, upon marrying into the family, Kate Middleton had to curtsy to all “blood” princesses, such as Beatrice and Eugenie, as well as her own children (except when accompanied by Prince William—duh).
However, journalist Sophia Money-Coutts tells Marie Claire“according to yet another expert HRHs don’t curtsy to other HRHs. So that means everyone *does* have to curtsy to Camilla now because she’s a HM but others eg Kate and Meghan and Beatrice etc. don’t have to curtsy to one another.”
Money-Coutts clarifies, “other royal women, eg Zara and Louise Wessex, aren’t HRHs so presumably they do have to curtsy to them.” (By this logic, Zara Tindall or Lady Louise would curtsy to Princess Kate, but since none of them has ever confirmed this, it’s kind of hard to know for sure.)
Commenting on whether they all bother to follow these rules behind closed doors, one source told Money-Coutts for the Telegraph“What they do when there are no outsiders present I can’t tell, but I suspect they do [curtsy]. They all did with the Queen.”
As for whether official new rules have been written since Charles became King, one royal source said they have bigger fish to fry.
“It would be mistaken to think there has been any edict,” the source told the Telegraph. “There’s a massive in-tray of stuff, and all sorts of titles and patronages to deal with. Plus, the small matter of a coronation to plan.”
OK, fine, I’ll make do with this information. If I have to.