An invitation to a member of the Royal Family is always extended by letter, either through the Lord-Lieutenant of the county or to the Private Secretary. The latter is the general rule in London, the former elsewhere.
A printed invitation is not sent, although a specimen may be forwarded to the Private Secretary if desired.
It may be both prudent and diplomatic to make an informal inquiry, to the Lord-Lieutenant or Private Secretary, as to the possibility of a favourable response prior to extending a formal invitation. The approach should outline the nature and purpose of the function.
Whether the consort of a member of the Royal Family should be included in the invitation depends on the nature of the function. The point can be raised in the informal enquiry.
Only in exceptional circumstances should two or more members of the Royal Family, other than consorts, be invited to the same function.
If an invitation to a member of the Royal Family is declined it may subsequently be extended to a more junior member, but never to a more senior one.
Once an invitation to a member of the Royal Family has been accepted, the organisers of the function should discuss with the Private Secretary, or with another member of the Royal Household nominated by him, the detailed arrangements in so far as they concern the royal guest.
On the invitation
To indicate that a member of the Royal Family will be present, one of the following is engraved or printed at the top of the invitation card:
- In the gracious presence of Her Majesty The Queen
- In the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince…
Note: the word 'gracious' is included only for the Sovereign.