Royal Etiquette: Talking to the Queen

Common sense rules when conversing with her majesty.

ByABC News via GMA logo
May 7, 2007, 8:08 AM

May 7, 2007 — -- As the White House prepares for Queen Elizabeth II's state dinner at the White House tonight, some may wonder what is the proper etiquette for meeting the royal. Paul Gauger, the director of regional press for VisitBritain, offered his advice to "Good Morning America."

First greet the queen as "her majesty," then as "ma'am."

"You should always be very careful when you meet the queen that you actually don't refer to her as 'her royal highness.' Her title should be 'her majesty' and after that say 'ma'am,'" Gauger said.

Do not bow or curtsy.

"As an American when you're actually meeting the queen you don't have to do a curtsy or a bow because she's not the head of state of America," Gauger said. "What might be a nice sign of respect if you're a gentleman, you can just do a slight nod and some women, if they really want to they can do a little bob."

Do not attempt to touch the queen. Wait for the queen to extend her hand.

"You shouldn't touch a member of the royal family. You should always wait for them to extend their hand to you and with that handshake, just be nice and gentle," he said. "If she doesn't extend her hand it's not a sign of disrespect and that's where you might enter into conversation."

Enter into a polite conversation.

"I just think it is common sense and good manners and watching your p's and q's to be polite," Gauger said.