Royals

All the times celebrities have broken royal protocol

From Marilyn Monroe to Roger Federer…
Loading the player...

Meeting a member of the British royal family – like King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William, or Princess Catherine – comes with an abundance of protocols and rules that must be followed.

And yet, some celebrities who have been given the prestigious opportunity to meet a royal, let nerves get the better of them, and slipped up…

Read on to see all the times a celebrity has broken royal protocol.

01

Joan Collins

In her 2023 memoir, Behind the Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends, Joan Collins revealed she once broke royal protocol.

During the Platinum Jubilee Pageant in June 2022, Joan met with numerous members of the royal family. But when she met Catherine, she forgot to curtsy!

“Suddenly, a vision appeared in a red dress. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, with her two young children in tow,” Joan wrote. “‘Hello, Joan,’ she said sweetly, holding out her hand. ‘Hello, ma’am,’ I gulped, forgetting to curtsy.”

02

President Joe Biden

In a visit to Windsor Castle in July 2023, U.S. President Joe Biden raised a number of eyebrows during his interactions with the King.

While some took Biden’s interactions as a warm gesture, many royal pundits believed his actions breached royal protocol, with the President touching King Charles on his upper back.

President Biden was also noted for walking ahead of the monarch during their joint inspection of the Welsh Guards – reminiscent of a similar protocol blunder by former President Trump towards the late Queen Elizabeth II.

03

Roger Federer

Royal protocol dictates that one must not touch a member of the royal family unless they offer their hand first. But during Wimbledon 2023, Roger Federer greeted Princess Catherine by placing his hand on her back and leaning forward, as though he was going to kiss her cheek.

But before he could, the Princess of Wales very subtly moved backwards and gave the 20-time Grand Slam winner a friendly, but curt, nod instead.

04

Miles Teller

During the London premiere for Top Gun: Maverick in 2022, actor Miles Teller broke royal protocol when he met the Prince and Princess of Wales. He recalled ‘messing’ it up during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and said, “There’s a lot of etiquette and I had a sheet so I wouldn’t f–k it up… [But] right off the bat I messed up.”

“You’re not supposed to extend your hand right off the bat unless they do. But I felt the vibe, so I’m like, ‘I’m going in, I’m going in,'” Miles continued. “To their credit, they were very disarming. I was lost. Prince William’s eyes… Kate was beautiful and cordial, but with William; I don’t know, I blacked out.”

05

Ed Sheeran

In yet another instance of a celeb touching a royal when they’re not supposed to, Ed Sheeran clasped then-Prince Charles’ arm in 2017, while receiving an Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

“Apparently, I did a big faux pas, I shook his hand and then grabbed it and you’re not meant to do that,” the Thinking Out Loud singer told NBC of the incident.

06

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie shared with The Sun that in 2016, while she was filming Suicide Squad, she and her co-star Cara Delevingne prank called Prince Harry; which is definitely against protocol! “Cara knows Harry and while we were filming Suicide Squad she was like, ‘Let’s prank-call him,'” Margot recalled.

“I said, ‘We can’t prank-call ­royalty’, but anyway we did, and he was so cool with it.”

07

Lewis Hamilton

In 2009, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was presented with an MBE by the late Queen Elizabeth. After he received the honour, Lewis attended a private lunch with The Queen and made the mistake of talking to her first, rather than the guests sitting directly next to him – which led to Queen Elizabeth teaching him a dining etiquette lesson.

Lewis recounted the whole affair during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show and said, “I was excited and started to talk to her. But she said, pointing to my left, ‘No you speak that way first, and I’ll speak this way and then I’ll come back to you.'”

08

Spice Girls

King Charles attended the Spice World premiere in 1997 and while there, obviously met with the Spice Girls. But during the event, Geri Halliwell AKA Ginger Spice touched the then-prince’s bottom. At the time, it was reported that she pinched Charles’ butt, but in 2016, Geri set the record straight, and told The Times that she only “patted” it.

“Patting him on the bottom was against royal protocol but we’re all human. There was a lot of nervous energy… young women, happy antics,” Geri said.

09

Marilyn Monroe

While there isn’t a specific dress code one must adhere to when meeting a royal, it is expected that something appropriate and conservative will be worn. But in 1956, Marilyn Monroe made headlines for wearing a low-cut dress to meet Queen Elizabeth.

According to the book When Marilyn Met the Queen, ahead of the Royal Command Performance (where Marilyn met the Queen), female guests were asked to “dress in a suitable manner to meet royalty — for example, they should not wear gowns that were so low-cut that they showed too much cleavage.” But obviously, Marilyn either never got this message or chose to ignore it…

Related stories