Addressing Royalty: Communicating with the Queen
The Queen and all members of the Royal Family have private secretaries who deal with their correspondence.
Writing to The Queen
Unless you are personally known to the Sovereign, any letter to The Queen should be addressed to ‘The Private Secretary to Her Majesty The Queen’. There is no need to address the private secretary by name, but if there is subsequent correspondence this should be addressed to the actual writer of the reply.
Communications from those Known Personally
For those who wish to communicate directly with The Queen, the following style is used:
The letter should begin ‘Madam’ or ‘May it please Your Majesty’. The first line of the letter itself should begin with the phrase ‘With my humble duty’; the main content of the letter then follows. It should end ‘I have the honour to remain, Madam, Your Majesty’s most humble and obedient servant’. The word ‘remain’ can be replaced with ‘be’ if desired.
In the body of the letter alternate between ‘Your Majesty’ and ‘Your Majesty’s’ and ‘you’ and ‘your’. The envelope should be addressed to ‘Her Majesty The Queen’.
Use ‘Your Majesty’ for the first time and subsequently ‘Ma’am’. This should always rhyme with ‘lamb’. Pronunciation to rhyme with ‘palm’ has not been correct for some generations.
In conversation, refer to ‘Her Majesty’ or ‘The Queen’, as appropriate. ‘Your Majesty’ should be substituted for ‘you’. References to other members of the Royal Family are made to ‘His (or Her) Royal Highness’ or the appropriate title, such as the Duke of Edinburgh or the Princess Royal.
On Being Presented to The Queen
Introductions to the Royal Family are known as presentations. When presenting another person to The Queen it is only necessary to state the name of the person to be presented: ‘Your Majesty, may I present Mr John Smith?’.
Upon being presented to The Queen, and on taking leave, men should bow and women curtsy. The bow is an inclination of the head, not from the waist. The curtsy should be a discreet but dignified movement, with a slow rise, maintaining eye contact.
Communicating with other Members of the Royal Family
Unless the writer is personally known to the member of the Royal Family, it is usual to write to the private secretary, equerry or lady-in-waiting. Letters should be addressed to the holder of the office and not by name. Subsequent correspondence should be sent to the writer of the reply.
Sending Correspondence via Intermediaries
Alternatively correspondents may send their formal letter to the member of the Royal Family via the private secretary or ladyin- waiting with a covering letter, saying ‘please will you lay my letter before Her Majesty or His/Her Royal Highness…’
Communications from those Known Personally
If communicating directly with a member of the Royal Family the letter should begin ‘Sir/Madam’ and end ‘I have the honour to remain, Sir/Madam, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant’. In the body of the letter substitute ‘Your Royal Highness’ for ‘you’ and ‘Your Royal Highness’s’ for ‘your’.
The envelope should be addressed to ‘His/Her Royal Highness’ followed on the next line by the name:
The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT, OM, GBE, AK, QSO, PC
The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB, OM, AK, CD, QSO, PC
The Duchess of Cornwall, GCVO
The Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT
The Duchess of Cambridge, GCVO
The Duke of Sussex, KCVO
The Duchess of Sussex
The Duke of York, KG, GCVO, CD
Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
The Earl of Wessex, KG, GCVO
The Countess of Wessex, GCVO
The Princess Royal, KG, KT, GCVO, CD, QSO
The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO
The Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO
The Duke of Kent, KG, GCMG, GCVO
The Duchess of Kent, GCVO
Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO
Princess Michael of Kent
Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy, KG, GCVO
On Being Presented to other Members of the Royal Family
Upon being presented and on leaving, men should bow and women curtsy. The bow is an inclination of the head, the curtsy is a discreet movement, with a slow rise, maintaining eye contact. It is acceptable, but less usual, to shake hands without bowing or curtsying, especially with younger members of the Royal Family in less formal circumstances. Check with their staff for guidance.
Invitations to Members of the Royal Family
An invitation to a member of the Royal Family is always extended by letter, either through the lord-lieutenant of a county or to the private secretary. The former is the rule outside London. 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 enquiry, to the lord-lieutenant or private secretary, as to the possibility of a favourable response prior to extending a formal invitation by letter. 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, and only then by agreement with the office of the more senior member of the Royal Family.
Sending the Letter of Invitation
The titles of the royal guest/s are shown in full, but without post-nominal letters, as follows:
Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales
His Royal Highness The Duke of York
Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York
Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York
Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence
Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Kent
Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Michael of Kent
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, the Hon Lady Ogilvy
After the Reply
If an invitation is declined, it is advisable to discuss with the invitee’s office which member of the Royal Family may be invited in their stead, rather than trying the next person in line.
If an invitation is accepted, the event’s organiser should liaise with the private secretary (or with another nominated member of the Royal Household) to discuss important details. These include:
– time of arrival
– name of the equerry or lady-in-waiting who will accompany the royal guest
– names and positions of persons to be presented etc
On the Invitation
If a member of the Royal Family has accepted an invitation, it is advisable to indicate on the invitation 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.