Following our Q&A called “What makes a Princess and will Camilla be Queen?“, we now follow up with “The curtsey myth and a protocol made for breaking?” We’ll be taking a look at who curtseys to whom and why so many royal women are accused of breaking protocol.
Let’s start with curtseying. For some reason, there appears to be some story that women who marry into the royal family must curtsey to those born into it when they are not with their husbands. Women must watch the door closely and curtsey to every born royal that enters. Can you imagine going to a dinner party and just seeing them bop up and down the entire time? What a nightmare! And thankfully, it is also not the case in real-life. Hold on to your hats, if you are a “Royal Highness”, you do not bow or curtsey to other “Royal Highnesses”. Only the sovereign gets a curtsey or a bow from family members. Also, The Queen only gets a curtsey when that particular family member meets her for the first time that day. That is why you’ll sometimes see some not bowing or curtseying while others do. They’ve simply already seen her that day.
The confusion probably stems from the Order of Precedence which dictates, for example, in what order people enter a room or where they are seated during formal or state occasions. The sovereign is always first in the Order of Precedence. The rest of the world – those without royal titles – can bow or curtsey to any member of the royal family, but it is not required. (I met The Duchess of Cambridge and simply shook her hand!) Even the official website states that there are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the royal family.
On to that pesky business of protocol which seems to have gotten a lot of attention since Miss Meghan Markle became HRH The Duchess of Sussex. She closed her own car door, she asked The Queen a question, wore black when not in mourning, used a darker nail polish colour and wore dresses that show off her shoulder. None of these things has anything to do with protocol. There are no rules that state what colour nail polish you can or cannot wear. From the Cambridge Dictionary protocol is: “the formal system of rules for correct behaviour on official occasions.” Does that sound familiar? Once more, I direct your attention to the Order of Precedence, for example. We need to stop trying to find fault in every little thing The Duchess of Sussex – or any woman who married into the royal family for that matter – does. They have the best person to guide them – The Queen herself. Trust me; she knows what she is doing.
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