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Royal wedding: Who will Meghan Markle curtsey to after marrying Prince Harry?

It depends on whether a woman's royal husband is in the room

Rachel Hosie
Wednesday 02 May 2018 10:30 BST
Meghan Markle ignores royal protocol by hugging a woman that gave her a compliment

By marrying into the Royal family, Meghan Markle is entering a whole new world of protocol, tradition and etiquette.

One of the most well-known ways to greet a member of the Royal family is, of course, the curtsey. But there are a lot more rules around the tradition than many people know.

And as a member of the Royal family, knowing who to curtsey to - and who to expect one from - can be a social minefield.

It’s not down to the order of succession, so it’s safe to say Markle has a lot of rules to learn.

She will need to curtsey to the Duchess of Cambridge, her soon to be sister-in-law.

Markle will not need to curtsey, however, to Sophie, Countess of Wessex - except when Sophie’s husband, Prince Edward is in the room.

This is due to a rather outdated rule which states that a woman’s status is validated by her royal husband, the Mail explains.

As the daughter of the Queen, Princess Anne should receive a curtsey from Markle.

She should curtsey to Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice too, but only if Prince Harry isn’t in the room, in which case they should curtsey to her.

The Queen’s 80-year-old cousin Princess Alexandra should be curtseyed to, but Alexandra’s sister-in-law, Princess Michael of Kent, should not.

Markle will not have to curtsey before Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips - if Harry is in the room, Phillips will have to curtsey to Markle.

When it comes to the men, the rules are simpler - if a man has Prince in front of his name, Markle will curtsey. If he doesn’t have a title, she won’t.

Now one of the last bastions of royal British etiquette, the curtsey has been a tradition since the 1500s, when it was brought in to replace having to drop to one’s knee.

The current rules were written up in a document by the Queen’s private secretary in 2005, but not all the royals take them seriously.

The Queen herself admitted a few years ago that curtseying is anachronistic and that she no longer expects to be curtseyed to by women she meets in public.

However it may be wise for Markle to try and get her head around the rules, as they’re largely still followed in the royal court.

This article was originally published in December 2017

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