Never Eat Before the Queen! Curtsey to Kate Middleton's New Baby! Meghan Markle's Many Intimidating New Rules

Never Eat Before the Queen! Curtsey to Kate Middleton's New Baby! Meghan Markle's Many Intimidating New Rules

Yes, she has to curtsey to a baby. 

By Marianne Garvey

It’s not like we can picture the glamorous Meghan Markle slapping her feet up on the coffee table, licking potato chip crumbs off her fingers or anything. But, the future duchess will have a whole new set of rules to follow now that she’s living in England as a soon-to-be member of the royal family.

The Los Angeles native and Toronto transplant has an extensive etiquette list to follow in her new life, concerning who she has to curtsey to, how to greet the queen, what fork to use at dinner, and so on... and so on. She’s likely been taking private classes at Kensington Palace to learn (and perfect) the ways of the royals, say experts. Not all of us are born with a literal silver spoon in our mouths.

So what will she be learning across the pond? Things like when to close a door for privacy, to never show up unannounced, how to shake hands the proper way, when to exchange gifts, how to introduce people, and table manners are just the start. How to behave in public is likely one she has been already studying since Meghan during her engagement announcement was pure perfection.

Author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, Diane Gottsman, says that in general, Meghan is blessed with a “very sophisticated manner,” and therefore will do well in interacting with those who admire and respect her.

“I believe the new generation of royalty understands the value of being relational and authentic,” Diane says. “They all do a great job of being a positive role model and reaching out to interact with those who admire them. As well as, continuing to serve as ambassadors for were the causes. William and Kate are a wonderful example of parents, mates, and exemplary role models for their country. I have no doubt that Harry and Megan will do the same. It’s clear they love each other very much by their words, actions, and body language. They appear relatable and authentic, which is very important when it comes to leadership skills.”

Famed London-based etiquette teacher William Hanson fills Jet Set in on a few rules Meghan will be expected to learn — and fast.

How to greet the Queen and other members of royal family

“Meghan will probably already have learned that the Queen is addressed as ‘Your Majesty’ when you first see her, and then afterwards as ‘Ma’am’. This is to rhyme with jam not farm. Prince Harry refers to his grandmother as ‘Granny’ but I would suggest to Meghan that she sticks to the more formal ‘Your Majesty’ and ‘Ma’am’. Familiarity does breed contempt, as they say,” William says.

How to greet everyone else

“All other members of the royal family, from the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are called ‘Your Royal Highness’ and then ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am,' accordingly. For older members of the family she will probably stick to the protocol and call them Your Royal Highness, but for people such as William and Catherine, Beatrice and Eugenie, I suspect she will use their Christian (first) names."

Will she curtsey?

“Currently, Meghan is an American citizen and so when she meets any member of the royal family, she will not need to curtsey. When she becomes a U.K. citizen she will, however, need to start curtseying when she greets the Queen and other senior members of the royal family,” William explains.

To whom will she need to curtsey?

“Just as when the now Duchess of Cambridge married Prince William, there is a protocol that Meghan will need to learn and remember when it comes to remembering who curtsies to who once she marries Prince Harry.

When she is walking down a corridor at Kensington Palace on her own, she will need to curtsey to all ‘blood’ members of the Royal family. When she is walking down a corridor at Kensington Palace with Prince Harry, once married, she will only have to curtsey to more senior members of the BRH. (In ascending order: new royal baby, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Duchess of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince of Wales, Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen."

In essence, she only takes her husband’s position on the pecking order (formerly called ‘order of precedence’) when with him.

Dining rules

“When dining with the Queen, either at state banquets or more intimate family meals, Meghan will need to remember that she should not start eating before Her Majesty. She should also keep watching the speed of the Queen’s eating (usually very quick!) as she should stop eating when the Queen stops eating… even if she still has food left on her plate. No one should start eating before the Monarch and no one should carry on eating after the Monarch has finished.


“Although it won’t be royal protocol, I would advise Meghan to swat up on the correct British pronunciation of key venues and places. For example, it is ‘Bucking-um’ Palace NOT ‘Bucking-HAM’ Palace. It is ‘SINT George’s Chapel’ not ‘SAINT George’s Chapel.’”

No pressure, Meghan.

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