Margaret Rhodes, the Queen’s cousin and childhood friend wrote a book chock full of royal tidbits called The Final Curtsy. She served as a Lady in Waiting and explained:
I knew, of course, all about curtseying well before I joined the Royal Household. Some people say that they are not curtseying to the individual Royal, as such, but acknowledging what they represent – the nation.
Personally, I curtsey to the individual. So curtseying on first seeing Queen Elizabeth in the morning, and on saying goodbye or goodnight, was perfectly natural as far as I was concerned.
Here they are enjoying a relaxed picnic, with the Queen’s beverage at the ready to her right.
As you may recall, there was quite a hullaballoo when Kate joined the Royal Family about how a updated rules were circulated outlining who must curtsy to who and under what situations. Kate was reportedly very happy to have things laid out in black and white which makes sense to me. The last time an update had been made was when Camilla married Charles, reportedly in order to make clear that Princess Anne would not have to curtsey to her new sister-in-law when Prince Charles wasn’t around, thank you very much.
Boiled down, the new(ish) rules are that when William is not with Kate (because he’s off in a different room at Balmoral, say) Kate is required to curtsey to the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. When William is with her, Kate must curtsy only to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and Prince Philip.
Maclean’s made a handy chart to illustrate it all.
Meanwhile Sophie, Countess of Wessex must curtsy to Kate, Camilla, and Anne regardless of whether Prince Edward is with her or not since she is lower in the pecking order.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of this curtseying in action through the years.
Here’s Kate at it with William and the Queen during a visit to Nottingham in 2012.
This video shows the arrival of the royals for Prince George’s christening and I love that it gives a bit of a behind the scenes glimpse. We see Camilla giving a formal curtsy to the Queen, and then give a more informal double peck on the cheek and shoulder tap to Prince Philip (telling, right?!). While that is going on we can see Kate in the background curtseying to the Queen.
Moving along, there are all sorts of things to love about this photo of Sophie curtsying to the Queen just the other day at the Windsor. I think it speaks for itself. Suffice to say the Queen seems distracted by something or other.
Here’s Autumn Philips in a similarly informal setting curtsying it up to the Queen a couple of years ago.
Here we have Autumn and Peter Philips with Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend at Ascot curtsying to the Queen.
Sophie and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were further along in the line up.
Jumping back to the ’80’s Princess Diana would curtsey to foreign royals who ranked above her. Here she is greeting Queen Sofia of Spain
And to the Emperor and Empress of Japan
And here we have a very cute Princess Eugenie with the Queen Mum.
Margaret Thatcher greeting the Queen Mum back in 1980
Next up, some european royals and their dramatic curtseys!
(and thanks for coming back for a visit after our time away from the blog, we hope to be back to a more regular posting schedule now!)