Did Kate Middleton Just Commit the Biggest Royal Faux Pas With the Queen?

The British royal family is known for being sticklers for tradition. From the order the family walks in when in public to the types of clothes they wear, everything in the life of a royal is ruled by tradition.

Recently, however, the world has seen a break from a lot of tradition, such as when Meghan Markle was allowed to attend family events before she actually married Prince Harry. In fact, Meghan and her husband often make headlines for doing things her own way.

In contrast, Kate Middleton follows tradition much closer and has made headlines significantly less often. Kate has broken from tradition by spending Christmas at home instead of at Sandringham, flying with her family, and making more casual dress choices than most royal ladies. Now, she’s made headlines for something many fans deem a huge royal faux pas.

What did Kate Middleton do?

Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

While attending the Chelsea Flower Show, Kate bent down to kiss her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, on each cheek. This is the same affection mirrored by Prince William just moments earlier. The queen did not seem to mind the affectionate greeting, but many believe this is strictly against royal protocol. 

Generally speaking, members of the royal family are very formal in their greetings with one another while in public. They do not typically hug or kiss — at least while in the public eye. In fact, the greetings normally captured by the press include a slight head bow or shallow curtsy, depending on a person’s gender. Why then, did Kate and William kiss the queen, and did they really break any rules by doing so?

Is kissing the queen allowed?

According to experts on royal protocol, there are no definitive rules on how members of the royal family greet each other. In fact, there aren’t any rules set in stone on how the public should address the royal family, either. This comes as quite a shock, considering that most believe there were strict rules to follow during greetings or at least those done in public.

Just because it has always been done a certain way; however, does not mean it must always be done that way. Experts even stated that people could technically call royals by their first name. Whether or not they would respond is a different matter entirely, of course. 

Could this usher in a new era of informality? 

Some wonder whether the way Kate and William greeted Queen Elizabeth might usher in a new era of informality for the royal family — or, at the very least, an era of slightly less formality. Much of the speculation comes from the way that Queen Elizabeth reacted to the greetings, which is to say that she did not react at all.

The lack of reaction and acceptance of the greeting, however, may not be so much about changing formality within the royal family, but rather a statement as to how the queen really feels about her granddaughter-in-law. Some speculation is that the family simply forgot there were cameras around. They support this evidence in the way that Kate and William curtsied and bowed respectively after the affectionate greeting. It was almost as though formality is an afterthought.

Perhaps what the world has gotten a glimpse of is the way that Kate and her husband interact with Queen Elizabeth behind closed doors. It appeared to be a very natural greeting, rather than a forced “statement,” as might have been seen were this to be the dawning of a new era. Whichever way it goes, one thing is for sure: Kate most certainly did not make a royal faux pas and she is definitely not in trouble with the queen.