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Royal Protocol: To Bow or Not to Bow? Kate’s Curtsy Controversy

The King and other senior members of the royal family braved the blustery weather to attend a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate Commonwealth Day and its 56 member countries. The King spoke about the theme of this year’s celebration, “Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Common Future,” while the service showcased the diversity of the Commonwealth community, including musical performances by the National Ballet of Rwanda and British saxophonist YolanDa Brown.

However, it was a moment at the beginning of the festivities that sparked conversation among royal-watchers. The Princess of Wales did not curtsy to her father-in-law, and this breach of royal protocol left many confused. It is well known that royal protocol requires members of the Firm to bow or curtsy to the sovereign and their spouse as a sign of respect. In the Netflix docu-series with Prince Harry, Meghan expressed surprise at finding out that they practice the formality behind palace walls as well as in public.

While it is a common misconception that royals have to bow or curtsy to more senior members of the family, this is not actually the case. The royals generally greet each other using the same guidance offered to the general public, and it is up to the individual whether they choose to bow or curtsy. Kate’s breach of protocol could be due to her adjusting to her father-in-law’s new role, or it may be that members of the royal family only need to greet the monarch formally upon their first meeting that day.

The King received a special gift this week, a black mare called Noble from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Noble is settling into her new life at the Royal Mews in Windsor after being noted for her athleticism and poise, even in raucous environments. The RCMP has a long association with the royal family, having taken part in the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and given her several horses during her reign.