If I was in London and met the Queen...

What degree of trouble would I cause if I didn’t bow?

a) happens all the time
b) raised eyebrows
c) frosty atmosphere
d) headlines in the morning newspapers

I tried this, but they wouldn’t let me through the gates of the palace.

If you were being knighted at the time you’d be disembowelled.

Are you not bowing because you don’t know you’re supposed to or are you not bowing because you don’t want to?

If you are a subject of the Queen (i.e. a citizen of the UK or another one of the commonwealth realms) then it is considered proper to bow. No word on penalties/ostracism but it would probably be considered rather gauche.

If you are not a subject of the Queen, good manners do not require you to bow.

Incidentally, the preferred form of address is to use “Your Majesty” the first time, and “Ma’am” after that.

From observation, a) is correct: many people choose not to, or forget in the excitement of meeting someone who has her face on banknotes. Except in the most formal situations, it probably wouldn’t be remarked upon – or even noticed.

All that’s required, in any case, is a slight inclination of the head – since she’s not a tall woman, you may find yourself doing that anyway.

It wouldn’t be a big deal if you didn’t bow, as long as you were otherwise respectful and polite.

I think I posted this on another royal etiquette thread, but the State Department’s chief of protocol caused a minor controversy in the early '80s when she curtsied to Prince Charles while he was visiting the U.S. There was much harrumphing that we dumped the monarchy in 1776 and need not kowtow to foreign princelings, etc. No big deal, I thought.

My ex didn’t curtsey to Prince Charles when he walked past her. In fact she called him a “lanky auld Brit”. Nothing happened to her.

I’m in a egalitarian mood - I don’t want to.

Or because it’s just not the same with Freddie Mercury no longer around?

Well, with indefensible non-bowing, I would expect that you would be thrown in the dungeon.

Really, I think the worst that could possibly happen is a raised eybrow or two. There are still stanch royalists to whom this would be a noticeable slight, but even among them I don’t think a big fuss would be made.

I don’t think Elton would care either way.

Ha - good one!

Thanks for the responses everyone.