How should you prepare for attending a royal event in London?

11 June 2024

When venturing into the heart of London's regal grandeur, you might find yourselves apart of a majestic gathering, a royal event. Whether it's a garden party at Buckingham palace, an Ascot race attended by members of the royal family, or a state celebration, these events are steeped in tradition and formality. If you're fortunate enough to receive an invitation or plan to be a spectator, it's essential to know what is expected of you. From the intricacies of British etiquette to practical considerations, prepare to immerse yourself into the world of royal traditions.

Understanding the Royal Protocol

It's not every day that you find yourselves rubbing shoulders with the queen or prince at a royal event. But when you do, it's critical to understand and respect the royal protocol that has continued for hundreds of years. While some rules are formal, others are unwritten, yet universally understood by those in the know.

Each royal event follows a certain set of rules. For instance, if you find yourselves at a garden party - a quintessential royal event hosted by the queen at Buckingham Palace, it's crucial to note that the Queen will make her entrance promptly at 4 pm. Guests should already be in place, and as per the tradition, should stop their conversations to stand for the national anthem.

Furthermore, if you're at an event where you might meet the queen, remember that men should perform a neck bow, and women a small curtsy. Address the queen as 'Your Majesty', and subsequently 'Ma'am'. Other members of the royal family should be addressed as 'Your Royal Highness', followed by 'Sir' or 'Ma'am'. Remember, turning your back to the queen or any members of the royal family is considered disrespectful.

Dress Code and Behaviour

Just as important as understanding the royal protocol is adhering to the dress code. Royal events are a matter of state and represent the monarchy. Therefore, guests' attire should reflect respect for the occasion.

Men will usually be required to wear morning dress or lounge suits, while women should wear day dresses, typically with hats. At Ascot, the dress code becomes even more specific with rules about dress length, strap width and the size of the hat. It's important not to underestimate the significance of these details. You don't want to be the guest who draws attention for the wrong reasons.

Behaviour at these events should also reflect the formality of the occasion. Maintain a respectful tone of voice, avoid controversial topics, and remember, it's considered rude to ask personal questions or request selfies with the royal family. They are there to fulfil their royal duties, not to be the centre of a social media post.

Navigating the Event

The royal event will likely be held at one of the many royal residences in London such as Buckingham Palace or the Royal Ascot. Navigating these vast and often crowded spaces can be intimidating.

Ensure you arrive with ample time to spare. There's nothing worse than rushing, or worse, being late for such an important event. Use this time to familiarise yourself with the layout, locate key areas like restrooms and refreshments, and take a moment to appreciate the setting.

While the temptation to explore might be high, particularly at Buckingham Palace with its stunning garden, remember that not all areas are accessible to guests. Stick to the areas you're allowed to be in.

In the event of an outdoor gathering, consider the unpredictable London weather. A small umbrella that fits in a bag or a coat with a hood might be a wise addition to your outfit.

Enjoying the Experience

While the rules and regulations might seem overwhelming, remember that you are there to enjoy a truly unique experience. Witness the Changing of the Guard, a tradition that has continued for hundreds of years, listen to the royal band play, and enjoy the exquisite food often served at these events.

Engage in conversations with other guests. People from all walks of life are invited to royal events, making it a fantastic opportunity to meet a diverse range of people. Be open, respectful and enjoy the interaction.

Don't forget to take in the spectacle around you. The royal family, the palace, the garden, the grandeur of it all is an experience to savour. While no personal photographs of the royal family are allowed, there's nothing to stop you from capturing the ambiance, the setting, and even a discreet selfie to remember the day.

The Aftermath of the Event

Once you've attended a royal event, you'll likely be filled with stories and impressions that you'll want to share. While it's understandable to want to share your experiences on social media, remember that discretion is key. Avoid making any inappropriate comments about the event, the royal family or the other guests.

If you were a guest at the palace, it's good etiquette to send a thank you note to your hosts. This is not just polite but also helps to establish good relations, which could potentially lead to future invitations.

A royal event is an unforgettable experience, offering a glimpse into a world that many will never witness. Whether you're mingling with the royal family at Buckingham palace, enjoying a day at the Ascot races, or attending a state event, it's a privilege that should be savored. Prepare well, respect the traditions, and you'll no doubt enjoy a truly memorable day.

Protocol Etiquette at Royal Events

A royal event provides an exhilarating opportunity to get a glimpse into the lives of the royal family. However, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the protocol etiquette at royal events. Whether you're attending a royal garden party or the royal Ascot, following the protocol is crucial for maintaining the respect and dignity of the occasion.

Typically, royal events begin with the royal family's arrival, led by the Queen or the most senior member present. All activities, including conversations, halt as the national anthem plays, signifying the start of the event. Disrespecting the anthem is considered a grave offence, therefore, ensure you stand and maintain silence throughout.

When interacting with the royal family, address them properly. Start with 'Your Majesty' for the Queen, followed by 'Ma’am', and 'Your Royal Highness' for other members, followed by 'Sir' or 'Ma’am'. Avoid turning your back to any royal family members as it is viewed as a sign of disrespect. Remember, the Queen or the senior member present always leads, and guests should never walk ahead of them.

If you're attending a garden party, remember that the private secretary or a member of the royal family will introduce you, so don't try to introduce yourself. Similarly, don't initiate a handshake unless a royal family member extends their hand first.

Royal Dress Code and Event Decorum

Royal events are characterised by their strict dress codes, which reflect the importance and formality of the occasion. The dress code will be mentioned in your invitation. It's essential to adhere to this not just to show respect for the event, but also to avoid drawing attention for the wrong reasons.

Men are generally required to wear morning dress or lounge suits, while women are expected to wear day dresses, often with a hat. The Royal Ascot is known for its particularly specific dress code, which includes rules about dress length, strap width, and the size of the hat. Windsor Castle events might require black tie or even white tie, the most formal of all dress codes.

The decorum at royal events also calls for a certain level of behaviour. Maintaining a respectful tone, avoiding controversial topics and personal questions, and refraining from taking selfies with the royal family is essential. The royal family is not there to be the centre of social media posts, but to fulfil their royal duties.

In the royal enclosure, you are expected to maintain a certain level of conduct. This includes standing for the national anthem, witnessing the changing of the guard, and appreciating the royal band's performance. Remember, this is more than an event, it's a tradition that has continued for centuries.


Attending a royal event in London is an extraordinary opportunity, providing a unique insight into a world that few get to experience. But, it's not simply about enjoying the royal garden or the grandeur of state rooms at Buckingham Palace, it's also about respecting and continuing the traditions that have been upheld for centuries.

Whether you're attending the Trooping the Colour, a royal garden party, or enjoying the Royal Ascot in the royal enclosure, the key to having a memorable experience is to prepare well and respect the traditions. From the royal etiquette to the dress code, each detail matters in making the experience truly rewarding.

Remember, you're not just a guest, you're a part of a historic tradition. So, follow the dress code, respect the royal protocol, and most importantly, savour every moment. After all, it's not every day that you find yourself rubbing shoulders with royalty, is it?

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