President Trump is hours away from making his first official visit to the U.K. since assuming office in 2017. Part of that visit will include meeting with Queen Elizabeth II over tea at Windsor Castle on Friday, July 13.
Although the Royal Family highlights that there are “no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family,” it does outline the traditions that many choose to observe on the official website. And while the trip is a “working visit” rather than an official “state visit,” people across the world will be watching to see whether Trump follows these protocols.
First and foremost, touching can be a well, touchy, issue. Generally speaking, guidelines would suggest that individuals should not touch the royal family. The only exception would be to “shake hands in the usual way,” according to the Royal Family, although a neck bow “from the head only” for men and a “small curtsy” for women, is generally preferred. A combination of the two is also accepted, although one should wait for the Queen to offer her hand for a handshake.
If one does shake the Queen’s hand, one “must remember the grip should not be too tight or too loose, and it is two to three pumps then hands go back to your side.”
When one is presented to the Queen—visitors are typically presented by one of her courtiers rather than seen as “meeting” the Queen—the individual in question is expected to bow or curtsy, and then greet her as “Your Majesty” in the first instance. Subsequently, the Queen should be addressed as “Ma’am, pronounced with a short ‘a,’ as in ‘jam.’”
Overall, deference to the Queen is expected: Arrive before her, don’t speak unless spoken to or sit or eat until she has, and never turn your back on the Queen or leave before she does.
Even though the royal family’s approach to royal protocol is reportedly “more relaxed” than it used to be, transgressions by Trump would likely cause a backlash—Canada’s governor general struggled to live down perceived inappropriate touching of the Queen last year.
President Trump will be the latest in a long line of American presidents that have met the Queen. She has met with every sitting President since ascending to the throne in 1952, with the exception of President Johnson.