Meeting the Royal Family

Tours by members of the Royal Family are 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.

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How to address

Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort are called “Your Majesty” initially and “Sir/Ma’am” as the conversation continues. Other members of the Royal Family are called “Your Royal Highness” initially and also “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.


Upon arrival at each site to be visited, 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 in advance.

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


There is no mandatory code of conduct when meeting The King and other members of the Royal Family, but some people wish to observe the traditional forms, which are:

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

Otherwise, it is also appropriate to shake hands in the usual way.


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 pm.
  • 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.
  • When formal wear is called for, a cocktail dress, traditional dress, or dark business attire is also acceptable.
  • Members of uniformed services should follow appropriate dress guidelines, in accordance with the practices of their organization.

It is not generally known in advance what colour of clothing members of the Royal Family will wear at functions.


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 them in toasting The King.
  • When all guests are standing, the host raises their glass, and then says without music or other words: “The King”.
  • All guests repeat the words “The King,” drink and resume their seats - this is often done bilingually.
  • A toast to The King 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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