Curtseying Customs: Do Americans curtsey, too?

Q: Do Americans bow or curtsey when meeting British royalty? For example, would an American girl curtsey when presented to the Queen? My husband says that Americans don’t bow or curtsey because we have no sovereign and are not subjects of the British crown. I say you follow the local customs when in a different country. Who is right?

A: You are right. You show respect for the title and position by acknowledging it as others do. Curtseying to the Queen of England doesn’t indicate sovereignty but rather respect.


  1. Liz

    I watched a program once where they spoke about this and said it’s acceptable to shake the Queen’s hand if she offers it first. I wouldn’t curtsey or bow, but my reasons are more religious than patriotic, though they aren’t exclusive to patriotism. If I were a subject, I wonder if I would be expected to bow or curtsey because the British monarch is the head of the national(?) church. But I don’t know how this translates to other UK areas that aren’t British, and certainly other British denominations shouldn’t have to bow despite the monarch’s position as head of the church.

  2. Ruth Peltier

    There was a time, right after our revolution, when Americans made a point to not bow or curtsy. So your husband is right about that. However, the revolution was a long time ago and now it is ok to do it or not. Personally I would curtsy because it would be “fun.”

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