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Queen Updates Order of Precedence and Who Must Bow to Whom

Marrying Prince William gave Kate Middleton fame, fortune, and a path to being the queen of England. Also, apparently, constant humiliation.

Telegraph (“The Queen tells the Duchess of Cambridge to curtsy to the ‘blood princesses’“):

The Duchess of Cambridge may be the future queen, but she has discovered that there are several women in the Royal family to whom she must show reverence. Mandrake hears that the Queen has updated the Order of Precedence in the Royal Household to take into account the Duke of Cambridge’s wife.

The new rules of Court make it clear that the former Kate Middleton, when she is not accompanied by Prince William, must curtsy to the “blood princesses”, the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

When William is with her, Kate does not need to bend the knee to either of them, but she must curtsy to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Despite being married to the Queen’s son, the Countess of Wessex will, however, have to curtsy to Kate, even when William is not present.

“Updating the Order of Precedence has been a simple matter of following the precedent set when the Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles,” a courtier tells me.

A document is said to have been circulated privately in the Royal Household, clarifying Kate’s status. When the Order was last updated, after Prince Charles’s second marriage, in 2005, the Countess of Wessex was reported to be upset that she now had to curtsy to Camilla. “She didn’t like it one bit,” a senior courtier was quoted as saying.
The Earl of Wessex’s wife had previously been the second-highest ranking woman in the Royal family because neither of the Queen’s other sons, Charles and Prince Andrew, were married.

However, after Charles remarried, the Queen changed the Order of Precedence “on blood principles” so that neither Princess Anne nor Princess Alexandra, the granddaughter of George V, would have to curtsy to Camilla when her husband was not present.

Although the etiquette may seem arcane, it is taken very seriously by the Royal family, whose members bow and curtsy to each other in public and in private. A vivid illustration came after the Trooping the Colour ceremony last weekend, when Kate could be seen curtsying to Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Arcane is one word for it; silly is another.  I suppose they have to keep this nonsense up in public for the whole “royalty” shtick to continue to draw tourism and all the publicly financed perquisites. But they seriously do this in private, too?

via Myra MacDonald

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    James, their job is being royal. How could they not take it seriously, even in private? I dont think they could afford to have word get out that they just put on a show in public.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  2. All this bowing must make getting up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water really inconvenient

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Ben Wolf says:

    @James Joyner

    I think that yes, they really are that out of touch and petty. An obsession with tribal status and their own innate superiority seems to be the order of the day even for people who have accomplished nothing but being born and draining the public purse.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

  4. Vast Variety says:

    If they only did it in public and not in private as well then it’s possible they could get confused and miss it every once in a while in public. It’s just 1000 years of British Royal tradition playing out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yes, they really are different from the rest of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  6. JKB says:

    Man, the Royal high school has some mean clique rules.

    Really, it’s not the bowing that is tough but rather the scraping and since they don’t have much risk of having to scrape, tough. noogies

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  7. EMRVentures says:

    Or, Kate could tell them all to go stick it like Diana did, but that would put William’s ascension in jeopardy the same way it did Charles. A nasty old bird, that Queen Elizabeth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  8. al-Ameda says:

    No wonder we had a revolution in 1776.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  9. Mr. Prosser says:

    Too bad Monty Python isn’t around. Imagine John Cleese as the Minister of Precedence and Funny Walks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  10. CSK says:

    Even as children, Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward were required to bow (or in Anne’s case, curtsey) to their parents in the morning before running into their arms for a hug. I doubt this protocol bothers Kate much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. Narnia says:

    Nothing ‘humiliating ‘ about it. It’s been like this for thousands of years. Please research in future. Thank you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  12. Humiliating is a so called “democracy” that subjects itself to these things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

  13. Ben Wolf says:

    @Narnia:

    Nothing ‘humiliating ‘ about it. It’s been like this for thousands of years.

    Of course nothing that’s been done for thousands of years could ever be humiliating. That’s in the bible somewhere, I’m sure.

    It doesn’t get more primitive than the belief one is entitled by birth to greater social status than another. The people who think that way about themselves and the people who can’t wait to submit to it are cave-men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  14. Kolohe says:

    Ya know, at least Chuck and Cammy go out pretty much by themselves in public http://www.3news.co.nz/Prince-Charles-car-attacked—video/tabid/417/articleID/190268/Default.aspx

    Compare that with the security bubble that surrounds the totally democratic non-imperial US Presidency and their families.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  15. Kolohe says:

    I also wonder how many of the people that are laughing at the (ok, somewhat laughable) nuances of Royal etiquette were shocked at appalled that some pipspeak journo hack would dare speak out of turn in front of the President of the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  16. Ben Wolf says:

    @Kolohe: You have no point, do you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  17. Liberty60 says:

    While the(small r) republican in me dismisses the Royalty, part of me appreciates how their class lines are drawn openly and honestly.

    Here in America we play make-believe and keep ours carefully concealed, pretending that power and priviledge arise out of magic and coincidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  18. Ben Wolf says:

    @Liberty60:

    Here in America we play make-believe and keep ours carefully concealed, pretending that power and priviledge arise out of magic and coincidence.

    Not magic, merit. You must be some sort of insane Marxist to suggest power isn’t always wielded by those who deserve it. A good conservative would understand the necessity of submission to one’s betters. Clearly you ain’t good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  19. Kolohe says:

    @Ben Wolf: Just that etiquette is situational, and at that, somewhat arbitrary. If this were happening in the culture of some other continent, we would find it anthropologically interesting. But as the Brit royals exist in the uncanny valley of modern Western culture and sensibilities, it’s readily mockable. And should be mocked, except we have raised the Presidency to almost the same standard. (Could you imagine the press coverage of what should be a non-story if Obama’s kids were 10-15 years older and one was getting married in the White House?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  20. Mr. Prosser says:

    Yeah, I can imagine it. Because I can remember the weddings of both LBJ’s daughters in DC and Tricia Nixon’s in the White House.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  21. george says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    A good conservative would understand the necessity of submission to one’s betters.

    You’re being ironic, right? Pretty sure both good conservatives and good liberals agree that the only person you should be submissive to is God (or some such equivalent, depending upon your belief system).

    Which is lucky, since most disagree on what constitutes a “better” in any case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pretty sure both good conservatives and good liberals agree that the only person you should be submissive to is God

    If God is a person, I want to meet him/her because I have a few complaints I want to register with that a-hole (starting with Downs Syndrome thru earthquakes and tsunami’s to Lou Gehrig’s disease). What the f*ck is with that stuff? And if he/she hasn’t turned me into a pillar of salt after that, I am going to give him/her a piece of my mind about mosquito’s, ticks, chiggers, poison ivy and stinging nettle!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  23. That shot begs for a caption contest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. mannning says:

    Shall we their fond pageant see?
    Lord, what fools these mortals be!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I’ll agree that the institution is archaic and founded on a concept of hereditary privilege that we would (and do) consider to be outmoded.

    It’s incorrect to assert that they drain the public purse though.

    The Treasury receives the income from the Crown Estate, pays the agreed expenses of the Royal Family, and pockets the difference, which amounts to a net inflow to the Treasury of some £100 million per year.

    This arrangement must be renewed by each successive monarch, and there has been some rumbling from Charles that he doesn’t intend to agree to renew it when he ascends to the throne.

    Predictably, Parliament is not pleased.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    It doesn’t get more primitive than the belief one is entitled by birth to greater social status than another.

    And yet we arguably have the same system, just predicated on a different barrier to access.

    Functionally, what would the difference be between, say, a British Peer and a Rockefeller? Both enjoy privileges, access and a degree of influence that are decidedly not available to the average person based solely on who they were born as.

    We’re not nearly as egalitarian as we want to believe that we are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0