Things No One Can Say or Do in Front of the Queen of England

Queen Elizabeth II waving
There are certain rules to follow when you are in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Meeting the queen — or, any member of the royal family, for that matter — is a once in a lifetime opportunity. That said, there are certain things one must say or do in order to stay in line with the royal family’s strict etiquette rules.

Curious to know what’s not on the list? We share the things no one can say or do in front of the queen of England and her royal family members, ahead.

1. Take a seat

One thing someone should never do in front of the queen of England is take a seat. If they don’t stand when the queen enters the room, it’s considered extremely disrespectful.

2. Call her Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth in fur and crown
Use “your majesty.” | Eddie Mulholland/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Another big no-no? Referring to the queen as Queen Elizabeth. While it is part of her official title, when meeting the queen for the first time, one should always refer to her as ‘your majesty.’

3. Lead the conversation

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth II watch part of a children's sports even
Only speak when spoken to. | Phil Noble-WPA Pool/Getty Images

When speaking with the queen or any other member of the royal family, one must only speak when spoken to and never lead the conversation. The royal should always have full control over any conversation they’re having.

4. Turn around

Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on June 17, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Don’t turn your back on the queen. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

In addition to taking a seat, turning one’s back to the queen is also considered extremely rude and disrespectful.

5. Shake her hand

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II hands out maundy money during the Royal Maundy Service
You should bow or curtsy. | Phil Noble/AFP/Getty Images

When greeting the queen, one should always bow or curtsy. That said, the queen also shakes hands — so long as she’s the one offering.

6. Ask to use the toilet

Queen Elizabeth II
It’s rude. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

One thing you’ll never hear a member of the royal family say? Toilet. They consider the French word for restroom, bathroom, or loo to be rude.

7. Touch her

Then-President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 2011 in London, England.
You’re not allowed to touch royals. | Ben Gurr-WPA Pool/Getty Images

When it comes to the royal family, hugging Kate Middleton, or putting an arm around the queen for a photo opp is off-limits. With the exception of shaking hands, non-royals aren’t allowed to touch royals.

8. Ask what perfume she’s wearing

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip
She prefers you say “scent.” | Andrew Milligan-WPA Pool/Getty Images

For those who are so lucky to meet and have a conversation about the queen, pay mind to the words that offend her. And, strangely enough, perfume is one of them. If you must know what she’s wearing, ask her about her ‘scent,’ not her ‘perfume.’

9. Show up empty handed

Buckingham Palace
Gifts are expected. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

When visiting with the queen, gifts are expected and should house a sentimental purpose that is appropriate for her visit. For example, if the queen is visiting someone’s hometown, she expects to be gifted items that symbolize the town or have a cultural meaning.

10. Use a nickname

They might use them at home, but publicly royals avoid nicknames. | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Another no-no? Nicknames. Publicly, the royal family never uses them (though, rumor has it they have broken this rule at home) and neither should someone when having a conversation with the queen or any other member of the royal family.

11. Take a selfie

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene
They don’t do selfies. | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

As far as photo ops are concerned, selfies are off-limits. Fortunately, if you’re so lucky to be at an event with the queen or any other member of the royal family, a professional photographer is usually close by.

12. Walk too slowly or ahead of her

Queen Elizabeth and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall
Keep pace with her. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

For those walking with the queen — i.e. her family members or staff — they must always walk at the perfect pace. That way, she’s not walking alone and can be introduced by her staff when needed. 

13. Slurp tea

Cup of tea on a blue stone background
It’s polite to sip. | Anna Pustynnikova/iStock/Getty Images

The royal family has specific manners for drinking tea, and slurping is not one of them. For those lucky enough to have tea with the queen, they must drink their tea according to royal family etiquette: Lift the cup, sip, and place the cup back on the saucer after each sip.

14. Continue to eat after she’s finished her meal

Queen Elizabeth toasts with champagne
When the queen’s done you’re done, too. | Lewis Whyld/WPA Pool/Getty Images

When it comes to dinner with the royal family, there are rules. And one of the most important ones is when to stop eating. As soon as the queen has finished her last bite, it is expected that others stop eating, too.

15. Say ‘pardon’

Queen Elizabeth in Germany
It’s not proper to use the French word. | John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

While bumping into the queen would be mortifying, one should never say ‘pardon’ for it. Like other French words, the British royal family considers it to be rude. Instead, simply say, ‘sorry.’

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