In this day and age is bowing and scraping, hand kissing and walking backwards really de rigueur?
To Bow or Not to Bow?
This is a question of personal choice, but it is a tradition
that should be observed - particularly when meeting a senior member
of the royal family.
Foreign nationals are not expected to bow or curtsey.
The bow is from the neck and the curtsey is just a short 'bob' (not a full ground-sweeping dip). If The Queen offers to shake hands, reciprocate with a gentle handshake (no bone-crushers).
The younger princes and princesses may not expect this kind of deference, except perhaps on a formal introduction, but a low-key bow or curtsey is a safe default position.
If you're in conversation with The Queen address her as 'Your
Majesty', and subsequently as 'Ma'am' (to rhyme with jam). Let The
Queen guide the topics of conversation and don't interrogate.
Other members of the royal family who bear the style of His (or Her) Royal Highness should be first addressed as 'Your Royal Highness' and subsequently as 'Sir' or 'Ma'am', but try not to let these forms of address should get in the way of natural and spontaneous conversation, and don't over-use them - it will just look ingratiating.
Royal wedding invitations specified 'Dress Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit' - so male guests have a simple choice. Women should wear formal dresses or suits, and avoid halter necks, spaghetti straps and mini-skirts. Hats are not compulsory, but many women will choose to wear them - don't go completely over the top (as you would at Royal Ascot), opt for chic elegance rather than jaw-dropping extravagance.
Make the Most of It
Don't be overawed by the occasion, nervous or tongue-tied, and try to avoid over-compensating by becoming garrulous and over-bearing or over-deferential. Whatever you do, don't resort to alcohol to give you social courage!