Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s exit from the royal family does not mean they can skip out on certain etiquette rules. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, whose departure went into effect at the end of March, will still be required to obey certain rules when they return to the United Kingdom, including when they bow or curtsy to members of the royal family. With the couple no longer using their royal titles, do any of the royals have to bow or curtsy to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex?
Inside the royal family’s curtsy rules
Being a royal seems like a glamorous gig, but each member of the monarchy has to follow a complex set of rules whenever they appear in public. This includes protocols that say when they are supposed to bow or curtsy to other royals.
The rules that regulate how men and women greet members of the royal family are a bit tricky. For starters, a person should bow or curtsy starting with the highest-ranking royal in the room.
Queen Elizabeth is at the top of the royal family rankings and even Prince Philip is supposed to bow to Her Majesty. Following Queen Elizabeth, the rank is linked to the royal line of succession, with Prince Charles being second in order of importance.
But this is where things get complicated. Those who are born into the royal family have a higher ranking than those who marry a royal. For example, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and Princess Charlotte (all of whom are dubbed the “blood princesses”) have a higher ranking than Camilla Parker Bowles, Kate Middleton, and Meghan.
That changes, however, whenever the wives are with their husbands. So if Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Charles are together at an engagement, then she takes on his rank and even William is expected to bow to her.
The opposite is true when Camilla is alone. In those instances, Camilla offers a curtsy to all of the blood princesses because they outrank her.
Do any members of the royal family have to curtsy to Meghan Markle?
These rules hold true for Meghan as well. According to Woman’s World, whenever Meghan is in a room with Harry, who is sixth in line to the throne, she takes on his rank and everyone below him gives her a bow or a curtsy.
For instance, if the Sussexes are at an engagement with Queen Elizabeth, Charles, Camilla, Princess Anne, Beatrice, and Eugenie, then Meghan only has to curtsy to Queen Elizabeth, Charles, and Camilla.
Anne, Beatrice, and Eugenie would have to curtsy Meghan because she has Harry’s rank. If you take Harry out of the equation, then Meghan would have to curtsy to everyone in the scenario.
These rules are generally followed whenever the royals appear in public together. In private, some of these formalities are likely skipped, especially with the lower ranking royals.
But how does Megxit factor into the curtsy rules?
Harry and Meghan’s exit from the royal family certainly complicates the rules of etiquette. In Queen Elizabeth’s announcement about the couple’s exit, she mentioned that they will no longer use their HRH titles, but she did not say that they lost them.
According to People, since Harry’s place in the line of succession remains unchanged, the curtsy rules will likely remain in place.
“It all is a bit murky,” etiquette expert Myka Meier explained. “Now that they are keeping their HRH titles but not using them, the order of curtsy would stay the same as it has been since Meghan married into the family.”
When Meghan is in a room with Harry, everyone who is below his rank in the royal family will still be required to curtsy or bow to the former Suits star.
How do Americans greet Her Majesty?
To make things even more complicated, Americans are not required to follow the same etiquette rules as the British when they greet Queen Elizabeth.
Meier revealed that Americans do not have to bow or curtsy to Her Majesty because “that is not a custom” in the United States. Instead, they can extend their hand for a quick shake and wait for Queen Elizabeth to respond.
Americans, of course, can always choose to bow or curtsy to members of the royal family, but that is up to the individual.
These rules do not apply to Meghan, however, as she is technically still a part of the royal family.