Royal wedding etiquette: How to behave

Royal weddings are full of protocol but how are guests expected to behave on Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day?

For any ordinary wedding-goer, the prospect of meeting royalty, especially the Queen, is a daunting one. What is the correct form in such a situation?

  • image of curtsy


    The rule is, don't overdo it. Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners says the sweeping curtsy and long, low bow "can be the subject of some amusement within royal circles". Instead, ladies are expected to make a brief bob with the weight on the front foot, and gentlemen should opt for a small nod, and look down briefly. Do the same when the royal leaves the room.

  • image of touching royalty


    While it is fine to accept a handshake from the Queen, officials discourage any other form of touching. Former Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, was famously branded the Lizard of Oz in 1992 when he was photographed placing his arm on the Queen's back. However, two years ago the Queen herself touched US First Lady Michelle Obama on her back during a reception at Buckingham Palace - a gesture which was returned. A palace spokesperson referred to it as "a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation".

    Note, however, that younger members of the royal family, like Princes William and Harry, will probably have a less formal attitude to introductions.

  • image of camera


    At state banquets guests are not allowed to take photos. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said that at all royal events the use of personal cameras is discouraged. The event will, in any case, be covered by a professional photographer, Hugo Burnand.

Source: Debretts