- Rules about the royal family mean the Queen should never be touched
- Sometimes this etiquette is ignored by certain people such as Michelle Obama and a former French mayor
- In the instance of the French mayor, he moved to touch the Queen in order to keep her safe – and so was not criticised for his actions
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, 98, travelled to France in 1972 on a royal visit. While the couple were there, a French mayor made a serious “faux-pas,” a royal expert said. Author Robert Hardman explained what happened during a visit to Provence in his 2018 book Queen of the World. The incident was one that would usually have caused great consternation, but in this instance was forgiven.
Queen Elizabeth: Mayor made shocking mistake with monarch on France royal tour
Hardman tells of a time during the trip to France when the mayor of Les Baux de Provence made the mistake of touching the Queen.
“The morning started with a royal tour of Les Baux, during which the mayor, Raymond Thuillier, placed a firm hand on the Queen’s shoulder to stop her straying too close to the edge of a 700-foot precipice,” wrote Hardman.
“Throughout her reign, dignitaries and VIPs have been scolded in the media for that faux-pas of ‘touching’ the monarch.
“On this occasion, though, the media did not castigate M.Thuillier for his over-protective impulse. It was a long drop.”
When meeting the Queen, one should never touch Her Majesty – it is only acceptable to shake her hand if she offers it.
This protocol was memorably broken by then-First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009 when she put her arm around the Queen.
There are various rules for greeting the monarch. According to the official royal website: “There are no obligatory codes of behaviour – just courtesy.
“However, many people wish to observe the traditional forms of greeting.
“For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.
“On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am,’ pronounced with a short ‘a,’ as in ‘jam’.
During the same 1972 French visit, Prince Philip also drew attention, according to Hardman.
Queen Elizabeth II in pictures
The latest pictures of Her Majesty the Queen.
Queen Elizabeth II attends a reception for 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
“The Duke was attracting quite a following of his own among the French public,” wrote the author.
“After yet another chorus of ‘Vive la reine!’ an Avignon man caused cheers when he shouted, ‘Vive le duc!’ The Duke ignored him.
“‘Vive le prince!’ he shouted. Still no response. Undeterred, the man yelled: ‘Vive le roi!’ At which point the Duke burst out laughing and threw up his hands.”
The Queen and Prince Philip visited the USA in 1957 and experienced a very unusual ‘first.’
Interestingly, it was something most Britons do on a regular basis – but not the royal family.
Hardman explained that the couple “paid their first visit to a supermarket.”
Although a chore for many people, Elizabeth saw a surprising positive to the shopping experience. “‘How nice you can bring your children along,’ she told shoppers as she marvelled at the sight of a frozen food section,” wrote Hardman.
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