Why Kate didn't curtsy to Charles at the Commonwealth Day service

It's a royal tradition - but the Princess of Wales refrained

Kate Middleton King Charles
(Image credit: WPA Pool / Getty)

Members of the royal family must follow a lot of royal rules - from the very specific stair etiquette for women within the monarchy, to what they are allowed to eat

One of the more well known traditions is that of bowing or curtsying to members of the family who 'outrank' you in terms of seniority. There is a particular hierarchy within the royal family, meaning that bowing or curtsying is a sign of respect to those who are closer to the throne. 

When Queen Elizabeth II served as monarch, royal fans often wondered when Prince George and Princess Charlotte would start to bow and curtsy to their great-grandmother given their young ages. Since Charles was named the King following her passing in September, we've seen the two young royals extending this respect to him - most notably, at the Together at Christmas' carol service in December. 

Camilla, Queen Consort is now exempt from curtsying due to the fact that she is married to the King. 

Kate Middleton, however, is still expected to curtsy to King Charles and the Queen Consort - so many were surprised to see that she refrained from doing so during a recent royal engagement.

The Princess of Wales attended the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday 13th March, and she greeted her in-laws without one.

However, rather than a royal rule break, it is assumed that she would have seen Charles and Camilla previously - meaning that the specific greeting could have already taken place out of sight. 

Although this tradition is widely known, Meghan Markle expanded on just how important it is to the royal family - even when they're away from the crowds and cameras. 

During the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's infamous interview with Oprah, she explained that she was shocked when she realised that it wasn't just a public gesture. 

She said: "I remember Harry and I were in the car and he says, 'OK, well my grandmother's going to be there so you’re going to meet her.

"He goes, 'Right, do you know how to curtsy?'

"I thought genuinely that’s what happens outside, that was part of the fanfare, I didn’t think that’s what happens inside."

So now you know!

Jadie Troy-Pryde
News Editor

Jadie Troy-Pryde is News Editor, covering celebrity and entertainment, royal, lifestyle and viral news. Before joining the team in 2018 as the Lifestyle and Social Media Editor, she worked at a number of women’s fashion and lifestyle titles including Grazia, Women’s Health and Stylist, and now heads the Marie Claire UK news desk.