Queen Elizabeth smiles and shakes a man's hand.
Queen Elizabeth smiles and shakes a man's hand.

Americans who are lucky enough to meet Queen Elizabeth do not actually have to bow or curtsy, since they are not her subjects. Many, including President Barack Obama, do so, however, to show respect to the second-longest-reigning monarch in British history. Knowing and showing a few royal niceties will make you feel more comfortable around her majesty.

Addressing the Queen

According to the website of the Royal Family, there are no obligatory codes of behavior, though the traditional form of greeting is, "Your Majesty," with a head-only bow from the gentleman and a small curtsy from the lady. Every time after the first, you shorten the address to, "Ma'am."

Points of Etiquette

A few other fine pieces of royal etiquette to remember include: speak when spoken to but do not initiate conversation, do not offer your hand first and do not ask personal questions. Dress conservatively, and though they no longer throw you in the Tower of London for this offense, do not turn your back on the Queen.

Greeting the Royal Family

If you should also meet other members of the Royal Family, the same bow and curtsy rules apply. Address the princes as, "Your Royal Highness," and subsequently as, "Sir." Address the female members in the same way, first as, "Your Royal Highness," then as, "Ma'am."