Meeting the Royal Family

Tours by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other Members of the Royal Family are always special occasions for Canadians to participate in events and celebrations. Individual engagements can range from the very formal to the informal. The following guidelines are designed to help people feel comfortable and prepared; they are not rules to be applied inflexibly or prescriptively. Members of the Royal Family wish any elements of protocol to be in tune with what is generally acceptable in Canadian society.

How to Address

The Queen is called “Your Majesty” initially and “Ma'am” as the conversation continues. The Duke of Edinburgh is called “Your Royal Highness” initially and “Sir” as the conversation continues. Other members of the Royal Family are called “Your Royal Highness” initially and “Sir/Ma'am” as the conversation continues.

To learn more, have a look at our page regarding styles of address, particularly salutations addressed to members of the Royal Family.

Host

Upon arrival at each site to be visited, the Members of the Royal Family are greeted by the host. No presentations are required as they will be aware of who the host is, having been provided with briefing notes.

When accompanying the Royal Visitor, it is appropriate for the host to walk beside the Royal Visitor. The host should make introductions as required.

Curtsy/Bow

It is up to those meeting The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and other Members of the Royal Family to choose whether or not they wish to bow/curtsey or simply shake hands. General courtesy dictates that and are most appropriate and always welcomed.

Description of a bow/curtsey for those who choose to make it:

Men: a neck bow – just a little more than a nod of the head.
Women: the right foot is placed behind the left heel, and the knees bent slightly.

It is quite appropriate to shake hands if the opportunity presents itself and a Member of the Royal Family offers to do so.

Dress

Members of the Royal Family do not wish anyone to be put to unnecessary expense by buying special clothes, hats or gloves. The following points may, however, be of use in answering queries:

  • There is no requirement for hats to be worn, though it is entirely acceptable to do so. Hats are not normally worn at functions after 6:30 p.m.
  • There is no requirement for gloves to be worn. However, if a woman wishes to wear them, they need not be white and should not be taken off before the wearer is presented.
  • Where a black tie and long evening dress are called for, cocktail dress, national dress and dark lounge suit are also acceptable.

It is not generally known in advance what colour clothes Her Majesty or other female Members of the Royal Family will wear at functions.

Toasts

There is no rule for toasts, nor is there a governmental policy dictating when they should be made. Those organizing an event decide if and when a toast is suggested.

This is the usual procedure:

  • After the dessert and coffee are served, the host stands and asks guests to join him/her in toasting The Queen. When all guests are standing, the host raises his or her glass, and then says without music or other words: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Queen.”
  • All guests repeat the words “The Queen,” drink and resume their seats - this is often done bilingually.
  • A toast to The Queen is always the first one to be offered.
  • Any type of drink can be used for a toast, except for cocktails, while wine and water are preferred.

Members of the Royal Family usually do not respond to toasts, but may choose to do so.

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