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Why you should never ask to shake a royal's hand

Here's why you shouldn't shake a royal's hand first

the queen handshake

The royal family is one steeped in tradition, and as such there are certain protocol standards that are ritually upheld when meeting a member of the family for the first time. However, royal fans might be surprised to hear one of the less known rules of meeting a royal, in that you should never be the first person to offer your hand to be shaken. Instead, you should instead wait for the royal to offer their hand to you. There should also be no other touching following the handshake, a protocol rule that has been broken on several occasions, most notably when Michelle Obama put her arm around the Queen during a reception at Buckingham Palace back in 2009.

the queen handshake© Photo: Getty Images

The Queen will offer her hand first

This rule of protocol was also broken by a member of the public, when a well-wisher gave Prince Charles a hug during his visit to Durham Cathedral. Though Charles smiled and briefly returned the hug, his security guards gently moved the woman away from him. The official site for the British Royal family states that while there are no "obligatory" codes of behaviour, the traditional forms of greeting including a neck bow for men, while women do a small curtsy, or simply a handshake. Upon meeting the Queen, the formal address is 'Your Majesty', followed by 'Ma'am.'

READ: Did Meghan break the golden rule with the Queen?

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke recently revealed how 'frightened' trying to keep to royal protocol is. Chatting on Late Night with Seth Meyers about visiting Buckingham Palace, she said: "It was good," pulling a nervous face to the laughing audience. She explained: "So it is a frightening thing going to the palace. There’s a whole… there’s a thing. When you’re there, I was just relaxing and they [said], 'Prince William is coming,' so I was like, 'Oh cool, great'. I'm really relaxed and everything is going to be fine. They were like, 'You can’t turn your back,' so I was like, 'No worries,' and they said: 'You have to address him as your Royal Highness’. Then after that you can call him Prince William and there’s lots of formalities that you need to kind of adhere to'. For whatever reason, maybe because I was so scared, I couldn’t manage to get out ‘Your Royal Highness’ So it was kind of like 'ra… ra…', it was pretty much all I managed." 

READ: The do's and don'ts of meeting the Queen

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