Has The Queen Ever Bowed to Anyone? The One Time She Broke Royal Family Protocol

The British royal family — specifically the queen — loves a good rule. That said, not even the most bizarre royal family rules compare to the way the family greets one another. As England’s monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is usually greeted with the highest form of respect — a bow or curtsy from her family members. But, has the queen ever bowed to anyone? During her monarchy, the queen has only bowed to one person: Princess Diana.

Keep reading to find out who she bowed to in her princess days and why the queen bowed to Diana.

Queen Elizabeth 92nd birthday
Before Elizabeth was monarch, she had to bow to those above her. | Andrew Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Her princess days

Before she was the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II was a princess. And while her ranking in the royal family required curtsies and bows from other members of royalty, the then princess still had to show her respect to those above her. Here’s who Princess Elizabeth bowed to before she was queen.

King George V

The queen was only ten-years-old when her grandfather, King George V died. But, just because she was young didn’t mean she didn’t have to show her respect. According to royal family rules, all members must bow or curtsy to the persons more senior (regarding the throne waiting list) than them. That means that the queen was most-likely required to curtsy or bow to her grandfather in her young age.

Queen Mary

Because Queen Mary — aka Mary of Teck — was married to King George V, Elizabeth had to show respect to her grandmother, too. That said, one she became the heir apparent, the roles likely reversed, and Queen Mary curtsied or bowed to her granddaughter.

Edward VIII

If it weren’t for Edward VIII, Elizabeth II wouldn’t be queen. After falling in love with Wallis Simpson, a divorcee and unapproved suitor for the future king, Edward faced a hard decision. He could either marry the love of his life or become king and find a wife that better fit the family’s standards. Edward ascended the throne in January 1936 but later abdicated in the name of love. Before his abdication, the then Princess Elizabeth most-likely showed her respect by curtsying or bowing to the short-term king.

Queen Elizabeth’s father

Following his brother’s abdication, George VI (Queen Elizabeth’s father) ascended the throne. The event not only marked the then Princess Elizabeth as heir adjacent, but it also created a new level of respect for her dad. Much like Prince Charles now has to bow to the queen, Elizabeth had to bow to her father, King George VI.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrive at Buckingham Palace the day before Princess Diana's funeral
Queen Elizabeth II bowed to Princess Diana’s coffin at her funeral. | Joel Saget/ AFP/ Getty Images

Why did the queen bow to Diana?

As England’s monarch, the queen is not expected to bow or curtsy to anyone. After all, she’s the highest ranking family member. That said, following Princess Diana’s death, Queen Elizabeth did the unthinkable: She bowed her head towards Diana’s coffin. That took the world by surprise and marked an iconic moment that many still remember today.

That said, many still have questions about her majesty’s actions and wonder the reason behind the bow. Is it customary for a monarch to bow to a member of their family once they’ve passed? Not unless they were a former monarch. So, why did the queen bow to Diana? According to some royal experts, the gesture was to show respect and recognize the work of the late princess. Not only was she the future king’s (Prince William) mother, she dedicated her life to many charitable organizations and helped radically change the royal family.

Also, some believe the queen’s bow was carefully planned to earn respect back. At the time of Diana’s passing, much of England (and the world) was angry with how the queen handled the situation. To gain their love and respect back, the queen gave them what they wanted: A proper send-off for the People’s Princess.

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