The Queen Has a Very Distinct Look When She’s Annoyed with You

The silent reprimand can be “terrifying,” a senior adviser said.

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When Queen Elizabeth isn’t pleased with you, you’ll know it straightaway, says a royal biographer—Her Majesty has a distinct look that tells all.

In Robert Hardman’s upcoming biography Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II, a very senior adviser to the Queen said “there’s a withering look, and it looks you up and down, and it was terrifying when it first happened to me,” per PEOPLE.

“The look” starts with what some officials call “an eyebrow.” If you get both eyebrows, it’s a more extreme case of annoyance. And, if you get a firm “Are you sure?” the annoyance has really escalated.

“Another retired courtier still remembers the glacial stare after a mix-up over timings at a state banquet,” Hardman writes in the book, out April 5. (Worried about the courtier? Don’t be—after an uncomfortable 24 hours, all was resolved with an apology the next day.) “The silent reprimand can be triggered by incompetence or else by overfamiliarity.”

Even prime ministers aren’t immune to “the look”—former Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in his memoirs “occasionally she can be matey with you, but don’t try to reciprocate, or you get ‘the look.’”

The Queen is cordial—even hilarious at times—but there are boundaries, Hardman said.

“Most know that there are two hazards to be avoided when meeting with the boss: ‘The line’ and ‘the look,’” Hardman writes. “You do not want to cross the former or receive the latter.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.