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19 Jul 2018 11:59
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  •   Home > News > International

    Donald Trump is to have tea with the Queen, so what royal etiquette should he follow when meeting Her Majesty?

    Do you bow or curtsy when you meet the Queen? How do you pronounce 'ma'am'? With US President Donald Trump set to meet Her Majesty, make sure you're across the proper royal etiquette.

    On his first visit to the United Kingdom as US President, Donald Trump is due to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II, meaning the presidential entourage will be brushing up on their royal etiquette.

    Mr Trump and his wife Melania are not expected to make waves during the visit with the 92-year-old monarch, who has met every US president since Dwight Eisenhower — with the exception of Lyndon Johnson — who never visited Britain while in office.

    So what are the rules of etiquette for encounters with the Queen?

    There are a handful, though they are not as rigid as many may believe.

    Visitors do not have to bow or curtsy when meeting the Queen, they can simply shake hands in the usual manner.

    Etiquette requires you wait for the Queen to offer her hand, then shake it politely before moving on.

    If visitors do wish to do things the traditional way, men can greet the Queen with a neck bow (from the head only), while women may do a small curtsy.

    'Ma'am' as in 'ham', not 'ma'am' as in 'palm'

    When presented to the Queen, the correct formal address is "Your majesty", and then "Ma'am", pronounced with a short "a" (as in "ham").

    The golden rule is: Do not get too affectionate with Her Majesty. The Queen is not expecting a hug or kiss from her guests.

    Despite this, the Queen certainly was not upset when South African President Nelson Mandela called her "Elizabeth", nor was she annoyed when Michelle Obama put her arm around her briefly.

    Neither Mr Trump nor the First Lady are likely to bow or curtsy when they meet the Queen, says Hugo Vickers, an author who has long chronicled the Royal family.

    "That wouldn't be required from a head of state or the wife of a head of state," he told AP.

    "He would be wise not to attempt to kiss her, and I don't expect for a moment that he will."

    Mr Trump said in an interview with The Sun — in which he cast doubt on a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain — that he was not nervous about meeting the Queen, who he called "a tremendous woman".

    "I really look forward to meeting her. I think she represents her country so well," he said.

    Mr Vickers expects the visit to go smoothly despite the many controversies swirling around Mr Trump's visit to the UK.

    He said the Queen would form an impression of the American president but would not share it, given her penchant for keeping her thoughts to herself and her very closest family.

    "Whatever we think of President Trump, he is the elected president of the United States of America and he has been invited to this country and he must be treated with great civility," Mr Vickers said.

    "The Queen will obviously be very courteous to him."

    If you don't like dogs, pretend that you do

    The Queen is known to dislike revealing clothing, so it is expected that Mrs Trump will wear a fashionable but conservative outfit. The president is likely to wear his traditional blue suit and a tie.

    Some standard rules apply: It's considered poor form to turn your back on the Queen or to photograph her. Still, the days when there was a "proper" or "improper" way to hold a tea cup disappeared at about the time of the Beatles.

    "Those days are long gone," said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine.

    "As long as he doesn't drink it out of the saucer. That's sort of a British, a London tradition, but it's frowned upon."

    He said the entire event would be much more relaxed than a formal banquet or lunch.

    It will not be a prolonged visit, like the one in 1982 that was long enough to allow Ronald Reagan to go horseback riding with the queen.

    There is one thing the Trumps should keep in mind, however: If you don't like dogs, pretend that you do, even if it is only for an hour.



    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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