The modern monarchy is far more progressive than it has ever been.
From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s groundbreaking wedding, to Princess Charlotte being the first female royal in history not being bumped down the pecking order with the arrival of her male brother Prince Louis.
But despite this, there are just some traditions that are here to stay. Perhaps the most intriguing royal rule is the art and the politics of the curtsy.
In pre Covid times, us mere mortals were content with greeting our family with a hug, if you’re a British or European female royal you’ll be getting your bob on to anyone above you in the social rank.
The gesture is the ultimate mark of respect and the “court curtsy”, a deep and elaborate pose, is the preferred method.
“The royal curtsy is one foot behind the other and the deep and the longer you stay down shows more respect,” Australian School of Etiquette, Zarife Hardy tells Now To Love.
Interestingly, after Duchess Catherine married Prince William in 2011, The Queen reportedly updated the Order of Precedence document and Kate must curtsy to “blood princesses” including Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who are below her in pecking order.
This rule does not apply if she is joined by Prince William.
From Princess Diana, Duchess Catherine and Duchess Meghan, keep reading to check out the best royal curtsies of all time!
Today, Queen Letizia is top rank but back in 2004, when this picture was taken, she curtsied for Infanta Pilar, Duchess of Badajoz, on the eve of her wedding.
Sophie of Wessex
Sophie of Wessex looked effervescent as she curtsied at the Royal Ascot in 2017.
Princess Cristina of Spain kept her purse firmly in her hands as she curtseyed for her father, King Juan Carlos.
Princess Michael curtseyed for the Queen in 2015, and she made sure to keep her poise.
This little girl may not be a royal but her moment with Diana in 1985 was too cute to resist.
Duchess Catherine showed her respect to The Queen ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral by bending down into a deep curtsy.
The future Queen Consort is a master of the royal curtsy.
Showing her respect to her grieving grandmother, Princess Beatrice also gave a low and measured curtsy to the monarch.
As per tradition, royal women will always greet the monarch with a curtsy when they see her.
Queens of the curtsy! Princess Charlotte and proud mother Duchess Catherine showed off their in-sync bobs during the Royal Family’s annual Christmas morning trip to church in December 2019.
During the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal tour of Morocco, Duchess Meghan performed her first curtsy to a foreign dignitary when she met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI – and totally nailed it! Watch Meghan’s elegant curtsy in the next slide! (Image: Getty)
Pregnant Duchess Meghan curtsies to foreign monarch
Who could forget this moment? Joining the royal family for Christmas at Sandringham just months before her wedding, Meghan Markle showed off her first public curtsy to The Queen. While seasoned Kate led the way, Meghan’s was a little more wobbly but that’s what makes us love her even more – she’s just like us!
What a difference a year makes: For 2018’s Christmas morning trip to church, the Duchess proved she’d come a long way since her first public bow, showing off a more controlled bend towards the monarch. (Image: Rex)
Duchess Catherine’s been giving lessons in the elegant bob since she officially joined the royal family in 2011. Here, she greets King Philippe of Belgium with Prince Harry in 2014.
Taking after her mum, Princess Charlotte tried out her first-ever curtsy during the royal tour of Poland and Germany in 2017.
Sarah Ferguson shows off her impressive core strength alongside daughter Princess Beatrice and ex-husband Prince Andrew at the annual Royal Ascot racing event in 2019.
The face you make when the royals let you back into the fold!
Duchess Catherine is yet again the picture of poised perfection as she bows to The Queen at the royal’s 2017 Easter service.
Who says men can’t get their curtsy on? While royal protocol dictates only women need to perform the gesture, Zara Tindall’s husband Mike gave it a go at Royal Ascot in 2015.
As per tradition, royal brides are expected to curtsy on their wedding day to the queen. Here, Princess Diana and Prince Charles show their mark of respect to The Queen in 1981.
In 1986, Sarah Ferguson performed the manoeuvre with bridal joy.
Double act: In 2011, Duchess Catherine was assisted by her bridesmaid and sister Pippa Middleton during the historical moment.
Duchess Catherine curtsies to The Queen on her wedding day
We love this tender interaction between Sophie, Countess of Wessex and the late Queen Mother in 1995.
One present-day Queen, one future Queen: Duchess Camilla says hello to her mother-in-law with a bob and a kiss.
Australian-born Crown Princess Mary is a total curtsying gun!
She’s practically on the ground as she welcomes Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to Denmark in 2015.
Sophie of Wessex and Princess Michael of Kent show us how it’s done.
Former ballerina Princess Diana had it mastered! (L-R) Princess Diana curtsies to The Queen at the funeral of her father, Earl Spencer, in 1992 and the Princess of Wales greets King Juan Carlos of Spain, who kisses her hand, in 1987.
The award for most enthusiastic royal curtsy has to go to Sarah Ferguson.
The affection between Princess Mary and her mother-in-law Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was on show at Crown Prince Ferderik’s 50th birthday celebrations in May 2018.
Princess Mary curtsies to her mother-in-law
Prince Charles and Princess Diana with Prince Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia during the royal tour of Spain in 1987.
Hello, granny! Princess Eugenie spices up her curtsy with a wave.
Just like her mum, Princess Beatrice has inherited a strong and low bob.
The politics behind the curtsy: Duchess Catherine may one day be Queen, but according to The Telegraph in the UK, in 2012 the Queen updated the rules and Kate must curtsy to “blood princesses” including Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who are below her in pecking order.
This rule does not apply if she is joined by Prince William.
But Catherine must always curtsy to Duchess Camilla, Prince Charles, The Queen and Prince Philip.
Whatever you think of the tradition, it’s certainly fascinating to watch it in action!