December 9, 2022

Inside The Royal Rules Of Bowing And Curtsying

The timeless customs of curtsying and bowing might seem fancy and charming from afar, but can you imagine being required to do it on a daily basis? The royal family’s website declares that there “are no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting the queen or a member of the royal family,” but you’ve likely only ever seen royalty greeted accordingly in the movies or otherwise. Do you really want to be the odd one out if you ever find yourself standing before an agent of the crown? 

In an interview with Hello! Magazine, royals historian Marlene Eilers Koenig shared that children born into the custom of curtsying and bowing start doing so at the mere age of 5. “You bow or curtsy the first time you see the sovereign and then again when you leave,” she explained. There are exceptions, however. According to Cosmopolitan, the queen is never required to curtsy to anyone. That task is reserved for her subordinates. While some people have claimed over the years that no royal entity bows to another, that’s actually not true. Several sources have confirmed that members of the royal family and their regal associates all bow or curtsy to one another in both public and private settings. 

The Order of Precedence

In 2005, a document was drafted up by the queen’s private secretary outlining the expectations that family members would curtsy and bow at certain times. Originally, it was intended to define Duchess Camilla’s standing within the royal family and included bits about when and to whom she should curtsy, but it was amended in 2012 to include someone else, as The Telegraph reports. 

After Kate Middleton came into the fold 10 years ago, the Order of Precedence presented before Duchess Camilla was likewise extended to her. According to The Telegraph, it stated clearly that she was required (or at the very least expected) to curtsy to the “blood princess” upon encountering her at any given time. Still, there’s a generally perceived hierarchy that keeps things varied and restricted to a sort of ” ethical lineage,” if you will. “A curtsy to Princess Anne? Yes. She’s the daughter of the Sovereign. Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice? Yes. But not if Harry’s in the room; then they should curtsy to her. Nor before Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips, who despite being a blood royal will still be below Meghan in the pecking order,” Koenig went on in her interview with Hello! Magazine.

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