Not bowing to queen/king

I assume there are people who refuse to bow or curtsy to a queen or king in UK and other places. How common is this? I guess it’s just considered bad taste but nothing else happens.

BTW I know that non citizens don’t bow so I don’t mean Americans , etc.

so normal people don’t have to bow/curtsy, but the future queen does. That’s pretty funny

Family gatherings must be so much fun bowing and curtseying to each other.

Pass me the potatoes AFTER you’re done curtseying.

What kind of maniac would give a royal some potatoes BEFORE bowing?

A polite Irish republican?

A few (hundred) years ago, UK citizens refusing to bow to the Emperor of China caused some problems. Eventually turned into a war.

I know US people don’t bow to the Queen because 'Muricans and Revolution, no noble titles, and all that. But is that also the case for people from non-Commonwealth countries?

Not 100% sure but I don’t think people from France, Germany, Italy ,etc and other places with no king/queen generally bow to kings/queens . It’s not just an American thing although Americans probably make bigger deal out of not bowing.

In a lot of countries bowing is a general sign of respect, at least in formal contexts. Lawyers bow to judges, gentlemen bow to ladies, etc, etc. So it’s not like bowing is some unique gesture of respect that is accorded only to royalty.

In those cultures, a visiting head of state likely merits a bow, whether monarch or president. And this would be the case in many European countries.

I’m reminded of an American whose comments I’ve seen on another forum, saying (paraphrased), “As an American, I’m freer than than anybody. I don’t have to bow to a monarch.”

Well, as a Canadian, whose monarch is the Queen of Canada, I don’t have to bow in the presence of the Queen either. If I was to meet the Queen, and chose not to bow, there is no sanction that the government of Canada nor the Queen could invoke. I might do, to be polite, but nothing requires me to.

IAAL in Canada, and I will say that upon entering the courtroom, I always give my head a slight nod, to acknowledge the court. Going through the bar, I will do the same; and I will do likewise when exiting the bar and the courtroom.

It is a sign of respect for the court.

I don’t buy that either.

As an American I’m sure that person will be expected but not required to show some deference or respect in actions or words to their president.

As a UK citizen I am under exactly the same obligation regarding the monarchy.

If either of us choose not to follow expected protocol then exactly the same sanctions will apply…nothing.

And in others a shallow bow has become the abbreviated version of the old bowing from the waist and curtsying. When you see people shaking hands with the kings of Spain during an audience, most Spaniards do little more than a head bob, and that’s in formal situations. It wouldn’t be the first time someone goes for two kisses instead, outside of an audience. The shallow bows do not get returned: the kisses, like the handshakes, do.

As a non-American, I don’t have to salute your flag or put my hand on my heart during your national anthem. It’s on the same level of formality and symbolic significance. When it’s a question of Her Majesty, that refers to the state that she’s there to symbolise, not herself - that’s why you’ll most likely see it at very formal occasions, but not that often otherwise. Nor indeed is bowing abasing yourself - any more than the monarch does in her bow when laying the wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday (surprise, surprise, it’s not all about you, or her).

Note also that there is a difference between bowing and kneeling. Bowing is just a sign of respect, while kneeling is a sign of subordination.


In Canadian courts, it’s at its most formal in the Supreme Court of Canada. As the judges file in, counsel all stand. The judges take their places at their chairs behind the bench, and counsel give a short bow. Then the judges give a short bow back to counsel, and everyone sits.

The bowing is a sign of mutual respect: the Bar for the Bench, and then the Bench for the Bar.

Just don’t accidentally headbutt the Queen like Mr. Bean.

As I recall (it’s been a long time), when I was presented to the Queen of England, I just looked at what everyone else did ahead of me, and gave a slight nod of the head and shook her hand when she presented it.

For the King of Jordan, just handshakes all around, same as any other dignitary. There is a remarkable lack of formality for Arab royalty, who are very accessible to their subjects.

When meeting a queen of an African tribe in Benin, I was told beforehand not to touch her person in any way, but I can’t recall any other protocol out of ordinary civil courtesy.

In most of east and south Asia, you bow to everybody when greeting them, even if fairly familiar.
Is “bow” defined for these purposes? How many millimeters is the measurable vertical movement of the head, to qualify as a legal bow? Does the back need to perceptibly flexed, or is a head-bow by itself sufficient?

If the queen is, for some reason, making a visit to North Carolina, does a person have to either bow or curtsey according to the gender stated on their birth certificate?

I’m an Englishman who’s been to US baseball games.
I stood up for the US anthem as it was polite to do so.

Of course Americans (or anyone else) are free not to bow to our Monarch. It’s just rude not to show some respect.

An American citizen owes no fealty to any foreign monarch, and therefore neither bows nor curtseys. She is treated exactly as one would treat any older woman of good character - she is addressed as Your Majesty the first time, and Ma’am subsequently. One does not shake hands with an older woman unless she offers her hand first - this is no different for a Queen.

The US recognizes no titles of distinction - any citizen is the social equal of any King or Queen. We don’t have to do anything to stress this point - it is taken for granted.