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Royal Women Conundrum: Who Has to Bow Down or Curtsy to Whom After Queen's Death?

Royal men have no such complicated prescription.

With the death of Queen Elizabeth and the ascension of King Charles III, a swath of royal protocol has been shaken up, re-evaluated, and readjusted, particularly in light of Charles expressing the desire for a "slimmed-down" monarchy. One matter that's causing a bit of drama: Which female members of the Royal Family have to curtsy, and to whom? The Telegraph recently unpacked this potential powder keg. 

Why This Affects Just Royal Women


The Telegraph explains that "royal women are expected to bow and curtsy to one another, popping up and down like whack-a-moles," because of a 2005 document written by the late queen's private secretary. It's called "Precedence of the Royal Family to be Observed at Court," and it delineates precisely where female royals sit, seniority-wise, in relation to each other. Royal men have no such complicated prescription: They just bow to each other everywhere.

The Original Camilla Question


Of course, everyone is expected to bow or curtsy to the monarch. It was so under Queen Elizabeth and will continue with King Charles. But Charles's mate caused a bit of a to-do. When Charles married Camilla in 2005, the previous protocol was that everyone would bow or curtsy to her as the wife of the heir to the throne, the Telegraph explains. But Queen Elizabeth mixed things up so that "blood princesses"—those born royal, such as Anne, Alexandra, Beatrice, and Eugenie—were moved ahead of Camilla in the pecking order.

Where Kate Fits In


Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2012, and she joined the curtsying continuum. Kate was expected to curtsy to blood princesses, such as Anne and Beatrice and Eugenie—but not if she was with her husband.

But What About Camilla Now?


Although Camilla is rock-solidly married to the British monarch, her ascension makes protocol somewhat fuzzy in a number of ways. First, although her official title is Queen Consort, there are rumors that she will be referred to only as Queen Camilla. She has now vaulted ahead of the blood princesses in curtsying order, she no longer has to curtsy to other Royal Family members, and the others must curtsy to her. But Hello! magazine reported that she will continue to do so when meeting other monarchs as a sign of respect. 

Sons, Wives Must Bow/Curtsy to King

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

There's a new protocol for King Charles's sons and daughters-in-law, Hello! explains. Whenever they first acknowledge the king, Prince William and Prince Harry will be bow, while Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle will be required to curtsy.

But will the entire order be rewritten by Charles, as his mother did? "It would be mistaken to think there has been any edict," a royal source told the Telegraph. "There's a massive in-tray of stuff, and all sorts of titles and patronages to deal with. Plus, the small matter of a coronation to plan."

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a seasoned writer and editor with a passion for helping people make life-improving decisions. Read more
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