There are certain practices one should follow when meeting the royal family. As the official royal website notes, there are “no mandatory codes of conduct”, but there are various traditions that seem to be best kept. Men usually bow while women curtsy; when greeting the monarch, one first says “Your Majesty” and then says “Monsieur” or “Madame”. To meet other members of the royal family, one begins by saying “Your Royal Highness”, then continues with the same “Sir” and “Madame” said to the monarch.

Other forms of protocol have emerged as traditional practices, but not necessarily hard and fast rules. As the British School of Excellence notes, touching a royal is not forbidden, but it seems to create a lot of media buzz when it happens. For example, actor Tom Hiddleston made waves when he put his arm around Camilla, then Duchess of Cornwall, in May 2016, according to People. Royal fans gasped at the audacity, but it turned out there was nothing to worry about. “I think she liked it!” A rep for Clarence House told People, calling it a “warm moment” between them after a friendly chat.

People end up breaking protocol all the time. Heck, even the royals break their own protocol, which is understandable given how many strict rules they have to follow. So we can’t blame anyone for missing out for a while presumably under high pressure.

The Spice Girls spice things up

Prince Charles and the Spice Girls

Perhaps the queens of breaking royal protocol are the Spice Girls. The pop group have a long history with the royal family, but the event that made us grab our pearls (or polish our bow ties) took place in 1997 when the girls attended a royal gala at the Manchester Opera House in honor of the 21st anniversary of the The Prince’s Trust Charity. They were brand new superstars and the excitement was palpable.

Then-Prince Charles met Sporty, Ginger, Baby, Scary and Posh in a giddy burst of energy and a healthy dose of royal man manipulation. In priceless video footage of the interaction, Melanie Brown first asked Charles if the Spice Girls could come over for dinner, then she said, “I think you should get your tongue pierced.” Then she gave him a big kiss on the cheek. Geri Halliwell told Charles, “You know, I think you’re very hot? She gave him an even bigger kiss on his cheek.

Melanie Chisholm, Victoria Beckham and Emma Bunton were much more relaxed. Charles looked partially horrified and equally thrilled at the attention. Then, to top it all off, Halliwell patted Charles on the butt. Although some reports suggest she actually gave him a pinch, Halliwell later clarified to The Times (via Marie Claire), “I didn’t pinch Prince Charles’ butt as has been reported.” I tapped it. Patting him on the bottom was against royal protocol but we’re all human… There was a lot of nervous energy – young women, happy antics. »

Michelle Obama put an arm around the Queen

The Obamas and Queen Elizabeth II
In 2009, Michelle Obama and then-President Barack Obama visited Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Michelle put her arm around the Queen and while the headlines were going crazy, the Queen actually put her arm around Michelle. The incident, which was honestly an innocent moment, plagued Michelle for a long time. A decade later, while on her book tour for “Becoming,” Michelle spoke to an audience in London. According to Vogue, she began by apologizing for the gaffe. “I learned during my time on the international stage to hold my hands firmly or behind my back to make sure I was thinking before reacting naturally,” continued Michelle. “I don’t know if I could have done anything differently because it was a natural human reaction. »

The event was such a phenomenon that Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dressmaker, wrote about it in her book ‘The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe’. Kelly completely defended the former first lady. “In reality, it was a natural instinct for the Queen to show affection and respect for another great woman, and there really is no protocol to follow,” Kelly wrote (via Insider). Kelly also added that the Queen enjoyed the interaction. “When affection is felt or the host of a State visit goes to lead Her Majesty up a few steps, it is truly about human kindness, and it is something the Queen will always welcome warmly” , she wrote.

President Biden spilled the beans…and wore sunglasses

The Bidens and Queen Elizabeth II

President Joe Biden had a few hiccups when he and his wife Jill Biden met Queen Elizabeth II in June 2021. First, he guarded his airmen while they met. Although this seems innocuous enough, it is actually a breach of royal protocol. Grant Harrold, a butler who previously worked for then-Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, broke it for Newsweek. “It’s good that Biden had sunglasses, but he should have taken them off when he met the queen,” Harrold said. “Everyone has to do it, no matter who you are, even the royals take off their sunglasses when they meet the royals. … I understand that the sun may have been shining in his eyes, but the queen had no sunglasses. Jill, the first lady, didn’t have sunglasses. »

Obviously the sunglasses weren’t the problem. After his meeting with the Queen, Biden broke royal protocol again when he spoke to reporters about their conversation. “We had a great conversation,” Biden said at London Heathrow Airport, according to the Daily Mail. “She wanted to know what the two leaders I… the one I’m about to meet, Mr. Putin, and she wanted to know about Xi Jinping, and we had a long talk, and she was very generous . The conversations with the Queen are private matters and Biden should not have divulged what they talked about, much less offered such specific details to the press.

Donald Trump made a few mistakes during his meeting with the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II and Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump made a few mistakes during his visit with Queen Elizabeth II in 2018. First, he didn’t bow down when he met the Queen. Instead, he shook her hand. Second, as the two walked outside to inspect the Queen’s Honor Guard, Trump walked ahead of the Queen, according to The New York Times. Once in front of her, he stopped walking, which forced the queen to walk around him.

Later, after his visit, Trump appeared on ‘Good Morning Britain’ in 2018 and spoke with Piers Morgan and discussed what he and the Queen talked about. Morgan asked if they had discussed Brexit and Trump said yes. “She said it’s a very — and she’s right — it’s a very complex problem,” Trump began. When Morgan pressed for more details, particularly which direction the Queen was leaning in, Trump caught up before saying another word about their conversation. “I heard very strongly from a lot of people that you just don’t talk about this conversation,” he added, referring to his private audience with the Queen. So he quit before anything more detailed aired.

Melania Trump also missed

Melania Trump and Camilla

Melania Trump also broke royal protocol during her visits to England with former President Donald Trump. Like her husband, Melania did not curtsy when she met the Queen, according to The New York Times. Instead, the two trumps chose to shake hands with the queen. As her communications director reported, Melania was at least warned about the royal do’s and don’ts, but apparently they didn’t stick.

During their visit in 2019, Melania and her husband visited Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at their home Clarence House. Melania greeted Camilla with a kiss on each cheek, according to Express. Camilla was taken aback by the departure of a traditional curtsey and in turn put a hand on Melania’s shoulders and kissed her back. Additionally, People reported that the Trumps arrived about an hour later than they were supposed to due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts. And since they were late, the Trumps left Clarence House shortly after arriving because it was time to fly to their next meeting.

Allison Janney’s mistake with Kate Middleton

Allison Janney with award

Allison Janney had a funny encounter with Catherine, Princess of Wales as they all left London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2018 for the BAFTA Film Awards. Janney told James Corden on “The Late Late Show” that she simply got tired of wearing heels at the event and decided to go barefoot by the end of the night. It was in this shoeless state that she met Catherine and Prince William. Catherine was pregnant with their son, Prince Louis of Wales.

“I met Kate and William, and she was in her heels and pregnant, so I kind of felt like a wimp to be there barefoot,” Janney told Corden. “She was in high heels, and she was my height when I was barefoot, it was quite extraordinary that she was so tall. I told her I was barefoot and told her she should bring her shoes because she’s pregnant. It was an awkward moment. Janney added: “I called her ‘honey’. Maybe it wasn’t royal etiquette. »

Although it could technically have been a royal faux pas, royal correspondent Emily Nash told Hello! things are more relaxed with the younger generation of royals, so that certainly wasn’t an issue. It seems unlikely that they’ll be annoyed with Janney calling anyone in their family “darling.” Our guess is that the princess found him endearing.

Awkward hug from LeBron James

Prince William, Kate Middleton, LeBron James

When Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales visited New York in 2014, the royals enjoyed themselves at a basketball game. On December 8, 2014, they traveled to Barclays Center in Brooklyn to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Brooklyn Nets. They met legend LeBron James, who presented the couple with two Cavaliers jerseys, one that said “Cambridge” and one that said “George” for their son. This, of course, was when they were Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

During a photoshoot after the gifts, James put his arm around Catherine and sparked a conversation about the age-old issue of touching the royal family. As USA Today notes, William and Catherine are notoriously more relaxed about these kinds of traditions. In fact, the outlet notes that during the game, William touched NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo’s arm while they were talking, so they obviously have an easier attitude about physical interaction.

As for James, he shared a photo of the moment on Instagram, when he offered the jerseys to William and Catherine. His caption implied that he knew the meeting had caused controversy, but he didn’t believe it. “This precise moment will remain engraved forever in my house. All is well and all smiles on this side,” he wrote. The smiles of William and Catherine in the photo seem to indicate that everyone was really relaxed and having a good time.

Ed Sheeran touches Charles’ arm

Ed Sheeran holding the medal

In December 2017, Ed Sheeran was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire and traveled to Buckingham Palace to be honored by then Prince Charles. During the investiture ceremony, Sheeran touched the prince’s arm with his left hand as the pair shook hands. Sheeran was well aware afterwards that it was a mistake. “Apparently I made a big misstep, though. I shook her hand and then I grabbed her and you’re not supposed to do that,” he shared on “Today” (via CBS News).

But the momentary time lapse was overshadowed by the wonderful historical element of the moment for Sheeran’s family. “My grandfather is a huge royalist and a huge fan of the royal family and he died four years ago yesterday,” Sheeran said in Today. After the event, her father noted how much it would have meant to her late grandfather.

In fact, Sheeran’s story about his grandfather was so touching that the Royal Family shared it on the Clarence House Twitter page, which was affiliated with then-Prince Charles and Camilla, before they only become king and queen consort. “Ed Sheeran received his MBE for his services to music and charity. He said ‘…my grandpa…he died on this day four years ago so it’s actually a nice loop I guess he’d be pretty proud,’ they wrote.

Anna Wintour keeps her sunglasses on

Queen Elizabeth II and Anna Wintour

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour spoke to the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2018 during London Fashion Week. The two women were seated in the front row and they were both smiling and seemed animated in the discussion, but Wintour kept his designer sunglasses on and many felt his insistence on keeping them on during a conversation with the Queen was rude .

According to Hello!, Prince Charles’ then-family etiquette guru Grant Harrold told the Press Association: “Ms Wintour should know that wearing sunglasses when talking to a another person, without a medical reason, is unacceptable. She should have them removed before being in the Queen’s presence, let alone discuss. Harrold stressed the importance of eye contact in any discussion, let alone one with the Queen.

However, this was not the first time Wintour had met the Queen. According to the BBC, in May 2017 she visited Buckingham Palace where she was made a Dame for her work in fashion and journalism. Wintour was notably not wearing her sunglasses during this event. However, Wintour’s Chanel outfit proved not to be the easiest of landing pads for the Star of the Order of the British Empire. “She couldn’t find where to put the pin,” Wintour said of the Queen after the event. The late Prince Philip had recently retired from royal duties and Wintour added: “I congratulated her on Prince Philip’s service because it is obviously so remarkable and such an inspiration to all of us. »

Lewis Hamilton was given an impromptu lesson in royal etiquette

Lewis Hamilton smiling

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton had lunch with the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2010 and made a mistake. In an episode of “The Graham Norton Show”, Hamilton noted that the Queen actually knew about Formula 1 and watched Hamilton’s race. Hamilton, who was knighted in 2021, sat next to the Queen at lunch and admitted he was genuinely excited about the seating plan. “She was on my right and I started talking to her and she was like, ‘No, you talk like that first and I’ll talk like that and come back to you,'” Hamilton explained. “So she talked to the guy next to her for about five minutes and then she spent the rest of the time talking to me. »

The Queen’s conversation instructions for Hamilton are actually an age-old tradition for the Royal Family. As Delish notes, the queen followed the rule that she first chats with the person on her right and once the second course comes, she turns to her left and chats with them. This is to make sure no one is left alone without someone to talk to at dinner. So it’s the tradition that Hamilton learned from none other than the Queen herself.