President Donald Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth for tea Friday. Nothing to worry about there.
The not-always-delicate Trump will likely be closely watched to see if he can navigate the numerous protocols surrounding the royal family without committing a faux pas.
Previously, the President has been called out for telling French President Emmanuel Macron’s wife, Brigitte, that she was in “such good physical shape.”
He was also criticized for holding Prime Minister Theresa May’s hand Thursday when they climbed the steps of Blenheim Palace, following a similarly awkward holding of hands when she visited the White House last year.
And during a meeting of NATO leaders last year, Trump was seen on video pushing aside Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and moving to the front of the group in Brussels.
Some may worry that Trump’s blustery, bull-in-the-china-shop manner could be an issue during the Queen’s tea – something that many consider a complicated test of manners and protocol.
But the monarch’s website makes it clear that there are “no obligatory codes of behavior when meeting the Queen” – although it highlights a list of customs guests can choose to observe.
Touching the Queen is frowned upon:
Her majesty prefers a shake of hand – if she offers it. In other words, follow her lead.
During the Obamas’ first visit with Queen Elizabeth in 2009, first lady Michelle Obama ruffled some feathers when she put her hand around the monarch’s back – a break from the normal procedure of avoiding touching her. But others have defended Obama, saying the Queen placed her arm around Michelle Obama first.
She was hardly the first person to find herself in a touchy royal situation. In 1992, the British media nicknamed Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating “The Lizard of Oz” after he touched the Queen’s lower back.
So is calling her by her first name:
When meeting the Queen, the correct way to address her is “Your Majesty” on first reference. After that, you can call her “ma’am,” the monarch’s website says.
Men and women in the royal family can be referred to as “your royal highness.” followed by “sir or ma’am.” But heads of state don’t always follow the rules – Nelson Mandela famously called the monarch Elizabeth and even noted that she had lost weight. The two had a warm relationship, with the Queen calling him Nelson in return.
There are several ways to greet the Queen:
Trump will have the option of bowing or shaking the Queen’s hand – although hopefully not the white-knuckled, tug-and-pull version of his famous handshake.
You can bow or curtsy, with men giving a head bow and women doing a small curtsy. Prime Minister Theresa May has curtsied before the Queen, but it’s not always required from a non-British head of state. President Barack Obama bowed his head slightly when he met the British monarch. If that’s not your thing, you can simply shake hands – again, if the Queen offers hers first, according to the royal website.
She leaves an event before guests do:
Guests should arrive at an event before members of the the royal family, but should not leave before they do, according to Debretts, a company that focuses on etiquette and behavior. If it’s a late event, an organizer can seek blanket permission from the royal family’s private secretary for guests to leave early, it says.