Meeting someone in the royal family can be stressful if you’re not prepared. Is it proper to courtesy or to bow? If so, how deeply should you bow? And who do you need to curtsy to?
Don’t worry about it too much—there’s little possibility that you’ll meet any royals and have to make these difficult judgment calls. But people are still so curious about rankings in the royal family and who gets a curtsy or bow and who only needs a handshake.
Meghan Markle is one of the newest members of the royal family and even though she married a prince, that doesn’t mean the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will ever rise to the ranks of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is still important to show them respect. However, Americans (and most others) don’t have to curtsy to Meghan Markle. Here’s why.
It’s not necessary for Americans to curtsy to Meghan Markle
According to etiquette expert Myka Meier, meeting Meghan Markle does not require curtsying. “In American culture, we do not curtsy or bow as a sign of respect, and therefore you would not do so if you came upon a royal in the United States,” she explained.
When former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a visit, they didn’t bow—they shook hands. And remember, Prince William and Kate Middleton outrank Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Most people don’t have to bow to the Queen
A little while ago when Donald Trump met the Queen for an official visit, he shook her hand and didn’t bow. Was he committing a huge faux pas, or was his greeting acceptable?
Bowing or curtsying to a member of the royal family is not required, though it is customary for certain people. The Queen was not upset by President Trump’s greeting. However, members of the royal family do bow and curtsy to each other according to their ranking.
Meghan Markle does get certain signs of respect
Just because Americans (and others) don’t have to bow to Meghan Markle, it doesn’t mean fans can just run up to her and demand a selfie. According to Meier, the protocol is that no one should approach Meghan Markle directly without first being introduced. These rules are different from how things used to be when Meghan Markle was still a Hollywood actress.
Meier also says: “To show respect, you should only take a photo of a royal when they pose for it.”
Does anyone have to curtsy to Meghan Markle?
There are certain times when people do need to curtsy to Meghan Markle—like when she’s in the presence of her husband, Prince Harry.
If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are together, any family members he outranks would also have to curtsy to her.
For example, Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall does need to curtsy to Meghan Markle even though she’s technically a true princess while Markle is only royal through marriage.
So if you ever have the privilege of meeting Meghan Markle, there’s no need to curtsy. Just don’t try talking to her without a formal introduction.