Canada Releases an Etiquette Guide for Meeting the Royal Family

Don't even think about snapping a selfie.

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Canada has been blessed with the gift of a royal visit (opens in new tab) and locals are pretty excited about it. (Obviously.)

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But just in case they get a little too excited, the Department of Canadian Heritage has issued a set of ground rules—an etiquette guide (opens in new tab), if you will—for meeting Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Here's the list of the do's and don'ts:

1. No selfies allowed.

The Department of Canadian Heritage warns locals (opens in new tab) that selfies won't be possible because they take too much time.

(Unless you're Serena Williams (opens in new tab), then I guess the Duchess has time for your selfies.)

Jennifer Gehmair of Yukon's Department of Tourism and Culture says (opens in new tab) it's more about not turning your back to the royals. "Turning your back to the Duke and Duchess and taking a selfie is discouraged if at all possible. I know it's fun to do, but they much would rather see your face."

2. Do not call them by their first names.

"The key thing is how to address them. You're not supposed to call them, 'Hey Will or hey Kate'," Canadian etiquette consultant Carey McBeth explains (opens in new tab). And under no circumstances should you shout or yell.

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When addressing the Duke or Duchess, you're not to call them 'Your Majesty'—that is reserved for the Queen. Instead, they may be addressed as 'Your Royal Highness', and then 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' as the conversation continues.

3. Make polite conversation, but don't get personal.

"If they stop to talk to you, don't ask personal questions, ask them how their trip has been," McBeth advises. "They are the masters of small talk, it's brilliant how they maneuver through a crowd and even if they've only talked to you for 30 seconds they make you feel like the only person there. What Canadians should do is welcome them."

4. And definitely don't make jokes.

"Absolutely no jokes, no wisecracks," says McBeth. "They're very inappropriate."

Clearly, this construction worker who made Kate Middleton giggle (opens in new tab) with his comments did not get the memo.

5. You do not have to curtsy.

It's perfectly acceptable to shake hands.

But if you do choose to curtsy or bow, there's a specific way to do it: Men should bow at the neck with little more than a head nod, and women should curtsy by placing their right foot behind their left heel and bending slightly at the knees.

6. Any physical contact beyond a handshake is a total breach of protocol.

That means no hugging, kissing cheeks (or kissing at all, for that matter), putting your arm around them (opens in new tab), etc.

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Kids, however, are an exception to this rule.

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7. Don't splurge on fancy clothes.

"The Royal couple does not wish anyone to be put to unnecessary expense by buying special clothes, hats or gloves," the guide states. Besides, we all know Kate Middleton is no stranger to repeating an outfit (opens in new tab) that works.

8. Hats are not to be worn after 6:30 PM.

Especially if you have hair as perfect as Kate Middleton's. If you wear gloves, they must be taken off before greeting the Duke or Duchess.

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9. Never toast with a cocktail.

Water or wine are preferred.

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10. Don't act like the paparazzi when you see Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Kensington Palace has been adamant about protecting the Royal youngsters (opens in new tab) from the intrusive, and at times aggressive, paparazzi. So as much as you may want to get a great close-up pic of Prince George's adorably chubby cheeks, respect their privacy and don't turn into a wild, photo-snapping lunatic.

Sarah Lindig
Editor

I am an experienced editor, writer, and creative strategist, specializing in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle content for digital media outlets, as well as video and social platforms. While I currently operate as a freelance contributor/consultant, with such clients as The Zoe Report, my 10+-year background in the industry was cultivated at the dot-coms of elite publications, including Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE, and Marie Claire.