Does Queen Elizabeth Expect People to Bow to Her? Not Quite

Not many people get the chance to meet Queen Elizabeth, one of the most respected and enduring monarchs ever to reign. Meeting the queen is a rarefied honor that is granted to few individuals each year, and is usually reserved for dignitaries, heads of state, and other political power players.

No matter who you are, meeting the queen is a formal occasion that is taken very seriously within the royal family — and therefore, there are some fairly strict rules of conduct that should be followed at all times. Still, when it comes to Queen Elizabeth’s own feelings on what level of formality is required, the monarch reportedly tends to play things by ear and let each situation unfold naturally. 

Queen Elizabeth is one of the world’s longest-reigning monarchs

Queen Elizabeth might be 95 years old, but she’s still a hard worker, maintaining a brisk travel schedule and handling many personal appearances. The queen, who assumed the throne in 1952, following the death of her father, has been through a lot of tragedy in her life, including several wars and the deaths of close family members. Still, she always manages to soldier through any difficulty, no matter what her own personal feelings might be.

Perhaps because of her hardworking attitude and tendency to avoid drama, people in England and around the world still love the monarch and look to her as a symbol of inspiration and perseverance. These days, Queen Elizabeth is still doing her duties and has indicated that she will continue to be a working royal until she is unable to do so any longer. 

Does Queen Elizabeth expect people to bow to her during meetings?

Queen Elizabeth II traveling in a carriage to State Opening Of Parliament
Queen Elizabeth II | Peter Summers/Getty Images

Part of the queen’s busy schedule means that she has to meet with a lot of political figures every month, for everything from business briefings to simple meet-and-greets. While there is no official code of conduct for those who are fortunate enough to meet with Queen Elizabeth, CNN reports that there are some traditional etiquette rules that people can abide by, if they so choose.

The report states that, unlike what is often portrayed in the media, the queen does not expect people to make a formal bow to her. Still, many of those who meet the queen choose to bow to her anyway, with men often inclining their head in a simple, respectful nod, and women performing a small curtsy.

CNN notes that for those who do choose to bow to the queen, the gesture should not be overdone, to avoid looking ridiculous, or worse, losing balance and falling down in front of the queen. 

Queen Elizabeth usually dictates the tone of formal meetings

Many people around the world shake hands when meeting a peer. However, when meeting Queen Elizabeth, the proper form is to wait and see if the monarch initiates a handshake. The queen is known to prefer a good handshake when meeting other world leaders or dignitaries, but good etiquette dictates that those who meet her should wait for her lead before reaching to take her hand. 

There are some other general notes that people meeting the queen should keep in mind, as well. Never touch the queen, and do not speak to the queen unless she initiates conversation. Additionally, make sure to dress appropriately for the occasion, choosing clothing that isn’t too casual or too revealing.

Fortunately, even there is a faux pas committed, Queen Elizabeth has likely seen it all at this point in her life, and isn’t likely to get too offended. 

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