How to Address British Officials?

* * *
BLOG: Robert Hickey
Answers Questions
From On-Line Users
* * *
VIDEO of Robert Hickey
* * *
About the book:

    Christian Orthodox       
    Christian Orthodox        
Acting Official       
Adjutant General     

Admiral, Texas Navy   
Adventist Minister       

Archbishop, Catholic        
   Christian Orthodox        
Archdeacon, Episcopal        
Ambassador, Goodwill
Ambassador of one country
   to another country      
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to another country
   by a U.S. citizen       
Ambassador of the U.S.
   to the U.K.  
American Indian Chief        
   U.S., State / or           

Assistant Secretary
Associate Justice,
   U.S. Supreme Court          
Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
   Christian Orthodox          
Bishop, Catholic            
   Christian Orthodox         
Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
Brigadier General       
Business Cards      

Canadian Officials    
   USA, USAF, USMC     
Certificate, Name on a 
    Federal Reserve      
Chaplain in the
    Armed Services        
Chaplain of Congress          

Chargé d’Affaires         
Chief Executive Officer 
Chief Judge          
Chief Justice,
      U.S. Supreme Court 
Chief Justice, of a State
      Supreme Court             

Chief of Police          
Chief of Staff     

Chief Operating
City Manager
Clergy & Religious
Club Official          
Colonel, Kentucky      
Colonel, USA, USAF,
    or USMC     
Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
      Yacht Club         
Congressman, U.S.               
Congresswoman, U.S.   
Consul and or
   Consul General   
Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
    U.S. Officials
    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
Dean, academic            
Dean, clergy            
Deceased Persons        
Degree, honorary      
Delegate, U.S., State

Deputy Chief of Mission
Deputy Marshal

Deputy Secretary      
    Pro Tempore      
Diploma, Name on a   

District Attorney
Doctor, Chiropractor     
Doctor of Dentistry
Doctor of Medicine              
Doctor, Military           
Doctor of
   Veterinary Medicine          
Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Mayor    

First Lady
   of a Church      

First Lieuten
Former Officials    

Gay Couple      


Goodwill Ambassador      
Governor General         
Governor, Lieuten
Governor, Lt., Spouse   

Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
   (deceased persons)
Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
   USA, USAF, USMC      
Lieutenant General,
   USA, USAF, USMC      

Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
Man, business
Man, social
Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
Marshal for a
   Judicial District, U.S. 
Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
Mayor, Vice    
   Protestant Clergy       
   Christian Orthodox     
Most Reverend, The        
Mother Superior
Mr. (Social)      
Mr. (Business)      
Mrs., Ms. (Use, Social Forms)      
Mrs. vs. Ms.     
Mr. & Mrs. / Couples   

Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
Nun, Orthodox

Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
   Elect, Designate    


Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
   U.S., State            
Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
   U.S. Department,
   Member of the Cabinet
   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


How to Address British Officials,
Royalty, and Nobility

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020

Does a US Citizen Bow to a Foreign Head of State?     
How Does the US President Bow to The Queen?
How to Behave When Meeting The Queen?     

How to Address Prince William & Kate?        
How to Address Prince Harry?          

How Do I Address a Lord?         
How Do I Address a Knight?
How Do I Introduce a Duke?         

Privy Counselor? Privy Counsellor" or Privy Councillor?

How Do I Introduce a Former British Prime Minister?
How to Address a Current British Prime Minister?       
How to Address a  Former Lord Mayor?        
How To I Address a Married Woman: Mrs.? or Ms.?     

How to Address an Envelope to TRH William and Kate?
       How should I address a letter to the Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and his bride, Catherine?  I want to send a note which is jointly addressed.  
        From what I read there could technically be several correct joint forms, but the best one would be a matter of style:  I don't know which one would be the most preferred:
            HRH The Prince William
                        and HRH The Princess William

            TRH The Prince and Princess William
                        (but, normally the most formal form is to write a name by itself, not combined)
            HRH The Prince William
                        and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

            TRH The Duke and Duchess of  Cambridge
                        (but, this might lower him!)

        -- Royal Watcher 

Dear R.W.:

        Before I could figure this out, I got this reply from Chris Young, President of Protocol Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association, and truthfully, I could not improve on his explanation.
        He writes:
         I would choose
                TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
        Simple reasoning – this is the style the Palace uses with almost complete exclusivity.  It is the style on their website, on the Prince of Wales’ website, in the official diaries, in press releases and other correspondence.  If it is good enough for Buckingham Palace, then it is good enough for me.
         You make a good point that a “duke” is technically lower than a “prince.”  However, this is ameliorated by the HRH style.  In British royal protocol, the HRH designation is reserved for the Royal Family – and, in specific, these three groups:

        ** The sons and daughters of the Sovereign
        ** The grandchildren legitimately born by male offspring.  This explains why Beatrice and Eugenie, the children of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, are princesses, but Peter and Zara Phillips, the children of Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, are not.  A modern exception to this rule is that the children of TRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Edward and Sophie) are not styled HRH at the choice of their parents and with consent of the Palace.
        ** The children of heirs presumptive, i.e., the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales – in this case, any children born to Prince William. (This presents a curious situation, because, technically, any children born to Prince Harry if his father were on the throne would be styled HRH but not if his grandmother were still reigning.  The Queen, though, can rectify that by a stroke of her pen.)
        Letters patent (an open document issued by a monarch or government conferring a patent or other right) issued by the Queen are often used to grant the title of prince or princess and the style of HRH.  (She used this device to create her husband, then Duke Edinburgh, as The Prince Philip in 1957.  She likewise created her aunt, Alice, as The Princess Alice in the 1970s.)  One such document contemplated your conundrum and described the use of HRH in this way:  “This [using HRH] is especially important when a prince holds another title such as duke (or a princess, the title of duchess) by which he or she would normally be addressed.  Using the style His (or Her) Royal Highness is directly associated with being a Prince of Princess of the United Kingdom.”
         And we see this playing out all the time. Technically Philip is HRH The Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, but he is often referred to, even formally, as HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. In Scotland, Charles is HRH The Duke of Rothesay – not the Prince of Wales.  Andrew is always HRH The Duke of York. And Edward is always HRH The Earl of Wessex.
        In sum, royal peers (those who hold dukedoms or earldoms) remain princes.  However, their peerage is in addition in – never in lieu of – their princely style
         Thank you, Chris!

        -- Robert Hickey

Whose Name First on a Royal Wedding Invitation:
Prince William's or Catherine Middleton's?

      I have been engaged by our local military as a consultant for an event. They want to hold a black-tie dinner to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. I am responsible for most of the arrangements and will provide a dining etiquette presentation to the guests. I am just putting together the invitations and have written Prince William's name before Catherine's. Would you agree? I have been in contact with the office of the private secretary to Prince William on other matters and they have been very helpful but I am to embarrassed to ask them, I should really know these things. I thought I would ask the expert!
           -- Jan C. in Ontario

Dear Jan C. in  Ontario:
    Interesting question!
    Among commoners typically the bride's name is first: The parent's of the bride invite you to the marriage of their daughter to this man, etc. But in this case his name is first since he is royalty.
    See the three invitations below. All list the royal person first:
        1. The recently married Crown Princess of Sweden to Daniel Westling, a commoner.
        2. The Prince of Wales to Diana, who was noble ... but not royal like the H.R.H.
        3. Prince William to Catherine Middleton.
    FYI when I was Belgium and I read a story in Point de Vue, a magazine that focuses on nobility, about the maker of china souvenirs (mugs, plates, etc.) who had already made items with William & Cate's initials intertwined ... his "W" first .... her "C" second ... then destroyed them all.  Reason being that WC had the wrong connotation and they redid them with the "C" on top sitting in the open "W" -- deemed to be more suitable.
               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Prince Harry?
        How do I correctly write Prince Harry's name on an envelope and in our program?

       -- L.M. in California

Dear L.M.,
      He is definitely known everywhere as Prince Harry.  He's even referred to that way on official website of the British Monarchy "Prince Henry Charles Albert David (always known as Prince Harry)".
      Most formally he is:
            H.R.H. Prince Harry of Wales

      And his office says that the less formal H.R.H. Prince Harry is also acceptable. 
        -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Address a Knight?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
      We are having a guest who was recently knighted in Great Britain. What do I call him when I am speaking to him?  Is it correct to address him as a knight in the US where there are no knights?
          -- ATC, Summit, New Jersey
Dear ATC:
    Use the forms in my book on page 404. If you are sending an invitation, write his name as:
          Sir (full name), (initials of the order, honors, decorations)

    You should be able to get the correct post-nominals (the initials of the order) when you get his name from your contact. If you are uncertain of what the initials mean, today it is very easy to do an internet search. You will find exactly what they mean in a matter of seconds.
    If you are speaking to the knight, call him in conversation:
           Sir (first name)
    If your guest is not a subject (a citizen) of the United Kingdom -- see page 405.  An American citizen would not be addressed as a knight in the US. For example, Rudolf Giuliani was knighted, but he's not orally address as "Sir Rudy". He is orally addressed as Mr. Guiliani and in a biography or introduction you could include he has been knighted by the Queen.
           -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an American 'British Knight'?
      On the rare occasion that one receives a foreign honor (as in the case with Rudy Giuliani) can he put the OBE as a post nominal?

           -- Sebastian V.

Dear SV:
    Knighthoods granted to Americans (non-subjects) are honorary and are not used as part of their name.
    Hence Mr. Giuliani would not formally include his knighthood's post nominals with his name .... and is not addressed as Sir Rudy.  He could of course include the honor in his bio, or it would be included in an introduction ... it's a great honor!
    However Elton John and Paul McCartney .... who are subjects .... are in conversation Sir Elton and Sir Paul and would use their post nominals in complete forms of their name.

            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a British Lord?
I have a question that you would be the best person to ask.  We are writing to Lord Peter Goldsmith, who was formerly the Attorney General under Mr. Tony Blair’s administration.
      I need to know which is the proper way of addressing the salutation, is it Dear Lord Goldsmith, or His Excellency, etc.?  I know you know the correct answer.

-- Christopher Kaplan

Dear Mr. Kaplan:
    I cover that in my chapter on British forms of address. He is correctly addressed in the salutation by his personal rank:
        Dear Lord Goldsmith,
    He's a baron ... but "baron' is never used in direct address. In conversation, in a salutation, or on a place card he is always "Lord."

   -- Robert Hickey

How to Introduce Your Father, The Duke?
Presumably, a Duke's title is not usually (or ever) the family surname.  For the sake of illustration, let's say there is a British Duke of Highhampton, with the first name of Peter and family surname Cameron.  His third son, who works as a minor government official in the Bahamas, introduces him to an American friend who also lives in the Bahamas (and who does not know the family's history) at a casual lunch.  In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say "This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton."  What would he say instead?  Would a member of the British aristocracy ever simply say "This is my father, Peter Cameron"?  (If so, presumably the friend would call the father "Mr. Cameron" during the subsequent conversation, intending to show generational respect.  However, would a duke find this an offensive come-down from his real title?)  Or would it be most plausible that the son would at least say, "This is my father, Peter Cameron, Duke of Highhampton," even when the introduction is in a relaxed setting?
     -- Florence Brook

Dear Ms. Brook:
     I love this question because it superficially about addressing nobility, but it really about making introductions. For formal situations the forms of address are fixed by protocol. Casual situations may call for casual forms of address ... which are the realm of etiquette. Etiquette allows for the individual to interpret what he or she believes is right for the situation.
    Here's what I think:
    1) The job of the introducer is to provide the names for the people being introduced to use when each responds to the introduction.  The son will be in the best position to know what his father will like to be called by his son's friends and what his friends will like to be called by his father. It is the son's function as the introducer is to establish the right common ground.
    2) Acknowledging the other person's status ... whether a student, military officer, your supervisor, or both father and the holder of a noble title .... is a essential to establishing good communication.
    Perhaps the best plan is for the son to brief everyone in advance of what he will do and what he thinks each should call the other, so everyone can enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Protocol officers typically brief their bosses on what the "call by" names are for people they are about to meet. It's really easy ... and makes things go smoothly.
     RE: In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say "This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton." 
Secrets that explode during the event are really planning problems! The purpose of protocol is to establish a stress-free environment so the planned work of the event or meeting can be accomplished.
                 -- Robert Hickey

Dear Mr. Hickey,
      Thank you for your insight.  It's very kind of you to respond, and charming to me for different reasons, not the least of which is the comment about a secret that explodes.  I was once the inadvertent subject at such a moment, and embarrassed a speaker in front of a big roomful of his peers and bosses due to the klutzy job he did introducing me (no loss of face for me, a whole lot of loss of face for him).  I don't believe any of his staff ever had the slightest inkling that they should have been abashed for not briefing him properly.  They all just stood around and tsk-tsked him for his faux pas. 
       I once met an earl at a friend's house in Oregon. We were hanging around on a summer day in shorts and were introduced by first name only (i.e., not a protocol-officer moment).  My friend is rabidly egalitarian, yet even she was quite ready to whisper in my ear that he was an earl.  I therefore guess it is unrealistic to think a member of the British aristocracy would ever fail to mention that fact, either prior to an introduction or during, no matter how casual the setting.  (A contessa I know is always introduced by only her first and last name, but she points out that her title doesn't mean anything, since Italy is a republic.  And though she feels this way, I knew by the end of our first meeting that she is a contessa.  The secret just doesn't keep.) 
      The only part of what you said that I wonder about is the assertion that once everyone's status is on the table, they can go forth and enjoy the start of a new friendship.  Perhaps, if the room is full of other people of similar stature (wealth, fame, achievement or position). But if the room contains only one duke and some guys, it seems that the title must inevitably impede genuineness.
      Anyway, many thanks again. I ordered your book last night and am looking forward to learning all the things I did wrong when working at the Senator's office back in the day. 
     -- Florence Brook

How to Address a Current
Prime Minister in Conversation?

      How one would address a Prime Minister directly when meeting him/her for the first time. Do you say Hello Mr. Prime Minister or Hello Prime Minister or Hello Mr. (surname)
                   -- A. K. @ RWB & Co.

Dear A.K.:
      Current prime ministers are addressed in two ways. 
      When they are in their country, a current Commonwealth prime minister is orally addressed as Prime Minister.
      When they are outside of their countries they are according the forms of address of a diplomat and are orally addressed as Your Excellency. 

       In general, it is acceptable to use the British forms of address for non-English speaking corresponding officials.  The "prime minister" form I mention above is the British style.  Other nations may have a slightly different form of address in their native language, but when the common language is English, governments modeled after the British parliamentary system find British forms acceptable.
      I have all the British, Canadian and Australian forms in my book should this sort of thing come up often.

                  -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?
      I have a question for you regarding sending a letter to a former Prime Minister of the U.K.
      What is the proper way to address him in the “Address” line and “Dear” line? We think the following might be correct:
          Address Line:    The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
          Salutation:         Dear Mr. (Surname):

                     -- Lorenza & Vinayak

Dear Lorenza & Vinayak,
       Your forms look good. If he's out of office he continues to be "the Right Honourable" but is no longer and  "MP"..
            Address Line:    The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
            Salutation:          Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname):  

      ... with the following comments:
     1) Current foreign prime ministers when traveling abroad are addressed as Your Excellency. But since it's also O.K. to address foreign officials in the style they use 'at home". So you can use for Commonwealth PM's the Right Honourable.

     2) In the U.K. they routinely abbreviate The Right Honourable to The  Rt. Honourable or even The Rt. Hon. ....   But's it's completely acceptable to spell everything out too.  If you do spell it out use the British spelling Honourable rather than the U.S. spelling Honorable. It's always best to present a name the way the person is accustomed to seeing it presented.
    3) In the salutation he is correctly Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)
     -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Introduce a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?
       In the case of wishing to introduce the former British Prime Minister and former President of Mexico before their spoken addresses, what's the right form?

         --- Katherine Littefield, New York

Dear Ms. Littlefield:
    FYI, I cover all this in my book: the UK, Mexico and more than 180 other countries.
    You didn't mention which individuals, but I am going to answer using Tony Blair and Vicente Fox. If you were going to introduce them to the audience -- here are some good forms:
    A former prime minister would be The Right Honourable (Full Name), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from (Year) to (Year). 
A British prime minister is The Right Honourable for life.
    A former Mexican president would be (Full Name), President of the United States of Mexico from (Year) to (Year).
Mexicans don't use the courtesy titles when addressing their officials, so use just (first name)+(last name).
    I would avoid describing them as formers. E.g. in United States we identify former Presidents by their number, e.g., the 43rd President But maybe including the years provides a bit more information?
So, do it however you like.
    Using the formal country names (e.g., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is correct .... just like we most formally say "The President of the United States of America."
          -- Robert Hickey

How To Address a Former Lord Mayor?
   Do you happen to know if the The Right Honourable may continue to be used by a former Lord Mayor of a city in the UK?  In this case, it is the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, who, to my knowledge, carries no other honorifics, titles, peerages, or post-nominals.
       If so, would it be: The Right Honourable, the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Mr. Duncan Sandys?
              - Chris

Dear Chris:
       I include the form for lord mayors on page 377. Absent being a member of the Privy Council or being a peer addressed as The Right Honourable, he reverts to Mr. Duncan Sandys, former Lord Mayor of Westminster.
        -- Robert Hickey

Privy Counselor? Privy Counsellor? or Privy Councillor?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
     Which is the correct spelling of a member of the Privy Council?  "counselor", "counsellor" or "councillor"?
             --- JM in Ottawa

Dear JM:
      In the United States "counselor" standard spelling for the word, but then again in the United States there is no Privy Council. 
      In the United Kingdom -- where there is one -- a member of the Privy Council is a "Privy Counsellor"
            Link to the U.K. Privy Council Office's site where they use "counsellor"
      In Canada, a member of the Privy Council is s "Privy Councillor"
            Link to the Canadian Privy Council Office's site where they use "councillor"
      I don't understand where the variant come from ... I just try and get them correct!
      The correct Canadian form appears in my book as are the forms for the Speaker of the Senate, Senator, and members of the House of Commons who are Privy Councillors.
     The correct British forms for Privy Counsellors appear on pages 362-363.
              -- Robert Hickey

Does a US Citizen Bow to a Foreign Head of State?
Does the President Bow to a Foreign King or Queen?

         How deeply does a US citizen bow or curtsy when meeting a king or queen? Then as a follow-up, does the President of the United States bow or curtsy when meeting a king or queen on an official visit to their country?
      -- Jennifer Ripley, Winchester, Tennessee

Dear Ms. Ripley,
    I'd say there are two schools of thought on this and which camp you fall into probably depends of whether you think bowing is symbolic of being subject, or simply shows respect in a way that is understoon within the host's culture: when in Rome one does as the Romans do.
    1) In ceremonial situations I would follow the advice of Chris Young, President of the Protocol Diplomacy International / Protocol officers Association (he's also Chief of Protocol of the State of Georgia, and Director of International Affairs) when he says “Look no further than the U.S. Constitution, which states in Article I, Section 9, that ‘No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.’ Those weren’t just words that prohibited Congress from naming someone a prince or princess, duke or duchess, lord or lady.  Those words were clear signals that in the U.S. all persons are on equal footing: that no nobility would exist here and thus no one had to bow to anyone. Certainly people here have titles such as president, chief executive officer, mayor, chancellor, and the like, but none of those titles was encoded on someone’s DNA.  Titles were to be ascending, earned through one’s own sweat equity and remarkable character, rather than descending, simply a generational bequeath to one’s progeny.”
    So a US citizen -- when meeting a royal chief of state in the United States or in the monarch’s country -- should simply offer a nod of their head (the sort of acknowledgement one might grant to anyone when you meet them as a sign of respect) and shake the hand of the monarch if it was offered. This contrasts with whatever might be an appropriate sign of fealty from a subject of the
royal chief of state -- such as an actual bow or curtsy
    Regarding the President. again I would quote of
Chris Young, when he says both are “equals on the world stage.  Both are heads of state …. the only order of precedence that exists between the two is usually an alphabetical one rather than one of rank.”
    Since they are peers neither would actually bow to the other. So no, the President of the United States would perhaps offer nod of the head as a sign of respect and shake hands.
    2) Other people say that in unofficial situations following the etiquette of another culture -- when in their domain -- is respectful. So a bow does not indicate one is a subject: it just means one is a respectful guest.
          -- Robert Hickey

Meeting The Queen and Prince Philip?
Touching the Queen of the United Kingdom?
Dear Mr. Hickey
When Barack Obama met Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip he called them “Your Majesty” and “Your Highness.”  Was that right? Was Michelle Obama putting her arm around the queen wrong?  I think it was nice.
        -- Dana Harriman

Dear Ms.Harriman
        First the form of address question -- a protocol question: The Queen of the United Kingdom, and every queen in the world, is directly addressed as Your Majesty.  A queen's name is never used in direct address. When you hear “Queen Elizabeth” in the media, it’s sort of shorthand for, e.g.  Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of the United Kingdom and Her Other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith  – which is a mouthful.
    The Prince Philip is not a Highness, he is a Royal Highness, and the correct address would have been Your Royal Highness. 
    Even though The President's address was a mistake, I am certain the whole thing was unimportant to the The Prince Philip.  British royals are imminently familiar with Americans and our lack of practice with the forms of address used when addressing nobility.
    Second the touching question -- an etiquette question:
Mrs. Obama putting her arm around the Queen was a more "familiar" gesture than would be correct by British tradition. Ms. Obama's action does indicate that the Obamas were not as knowledgeable of British traditions as they might have been.
    No one questions the Obamas sincerity or warmth, but the visit was not a personal visit for Barack, Elizabeth, Philip and Michelle ... it was an official, symbolic, photographed (and as such public) first meeting between heads of state. As such, a formal approach would have been appropriate for the situation.
    If I met The President I would not go up and give him the big hug that is common between men in the US nowadays. Out of respect for him and his office ... I would not. He's entitled to his space!
    Same with the Queen. There are a many ways to express warmth, sincerity, interest, and respect without touching -- and touching a royal person is not their tradition.
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Married Woman: Ms? or Mrs.?
     In my country (Trinidad), we use the British grammar, but I’m sure you can help with regard to the usage of the word “Ms.”
     I use it if I’m not sure that the lady is married e.g. “Ms. Jane Jones”
     When she uses a hyphenated name e.g. Jane Smith-Jones, I will address her as “Mrs. Jane Smith-Jones”.
     However, I have been told that in this circumstance, she should be addressed as “Ms. Jane Smith-Jones”.  Which is correct?
           Mary Lister (Miss) in the Trinidad

Dear Miss Lister:
      I am not sure I can advise you of what to do in Trinidad & Tobago but I can tell you what I know is happening in the USA.
    In the USA it is acceptable to address any woman you don't know personally as Ms. .... e.g., "Ms. Nancy Jones."  "Ms." is an equivalent to "Mr." which defines gender but not marital status.  Since it's against the law to discriminate on the basis of sex, age, marital status, etc. in employment .... Ms. removes non-pertinent info from the name.
    When marital status is pertinent
as in family activities (social), "Ms. Nancy Jones" may use "Mrs. Henry Jones" and "Mrs. Jones" too.
    I hear from married woman who want to be addressed as "Mrs. Nancy Jones" ... but from a traditional point of view, that's the form which is correct for a divorced woman who still wants to use her former husband's family name for some reason..
    I have friends where the wife does not like "Mrs. Henry Jones" ... EVER .... she likes:
        Mr. Henry Jones
            and Ms. Nancy Jones

    Re: Hyphenated Names: If you encounter someone with a hyphenated name ... in the US we'd just use it as presented with "Ms." like you note: "Ms. Nancy Smith-Jones." Whether that's her married name ... or birth-family name ... doesn't enter into the use of honorific.
    In the USA the use of "Miss" has been reduced to addressing girls of under ten or twelve years of age ... and once they have become a teenager, they want to be Ms. which they see as adult.   I just taught a class of 42 students .. none knew anyone who used "Miss" professionally  ... and only two people knew anyone who used "Miss" socially -- and they were elderly women.
I have since met two women who used "Miss" professionally.
    All this said ... in doing the research on my book I found that there are some women who use "Miss" and "Mrs." professionally.  But you see it less and less often in the USA: Ms. has come ubiquitous.
             -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 23 March 2020


     Back to Main Page of the Robert Hickey's BLOG 

Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.