The protocol surrounding touching Royal Family members has been so strict that even a small breach like a hand on their back by a dignitary was enough to ignite columns of outrage. 

According to a body language expert, today’s royals, led now by Prince William, the Duchess and Duchess Of Cambridge, are more open to touchy-feely to make themselves more approachable.  

Camilla, 74, was today photographed with Spice Girl Geri Horner, giving her a hug during a reception at St James’ Palace.

Yesterday, she was photographed embracing the Prime Minster’s wife Carrie Johnson, 33, as the pair hugged and kissed after meeting for a reception at the Wellcome Trust in London. Dame Judi Dench was also greeted by the royal earlier in the week. The actress reciprocated by placing her hand on the royal’s arm.

Prince William, 39, embraced Dame Emma Thompson at this month’s Earthshot Awards. Kate Middleton was 39.  

Judi James, a body language expert, stated that being more physically accessible in this way could be part of an effort to make the royals more relatable and attainable.  

Camilla, 74, was today photographed with Spice Girl Geri Horner, giving her a hug during a reception at St James' Palace

Today, Camilla, 74, was photographed with Spice Girl Geri Horner. She gave her a hug during a reception held at St James’ Palace.

Yesterday, Her Royal Highness was photographed embracing the Prime Minster's wife Carrie Johnson, 33, as the pair hugged and kissed after meeting for a reception at the Wellcome Trust in London

Yesterday, Her Royal Honour was photographed hugging and kissing Carrie Johnson (33), after they met at a reception at London’s Wellcome Trust.

A similarly familiar approach was taken by Kate Middleton, 39, earlier this month when she greeted Dame Emma Thompson with a hug at the Earthshot Awards

Kate Middleton, 39 years old, adopted a similar approach earlier in the month when she gave Dame Emma Thompson a hug at Earthshot Awards

Royals, led by the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, take a more relaxed approach to being touchy-feely in a bid to make themselves look approachable, according to a body language expert. Pictured, Camilla greets Judi Dench on Tuesday

According to a body language expert, Royals are led by Prince William, Camilla, and the Duchess Of Cornwall. Pictured: Camilla and Judi Dench greeting each other on Tuesday 

In contrast, the Queen and older generations might have viewed a lack in contact as a way to communicate higher status. However, younger royals are trying harder to be more approachable. 

There are no rules of behavior when you meet The Queen or any member of the Royal Family. However, many choose to follow traditions such as bowing or curtesy. 

Judi stated, ‘Royals and Queen’s generations before saw the depiction in exaggerated space around their bodies as part of the ritual for their high office.

“They sat higher on bigger chairs and thrones and their spatial separations were wider than anyone else. Public view only allowed for very few moments.

“This meant that touch was also off the menu. Tactile rituals were limited to occasional handshakes. Anyone who has met the Queen will be able to tell that her handshakes involve offering fingers and not pressing of palms.

The rule also applies to family members. Although their greeting rituals were more tactile in private than they were in public, a famous photograph of a very small Charles greeting his mother after she returned from a trip abroad shows the ‘no touching’ rule that was part the fabric of what it meant to be royal. 

Traditionally there was a 'no-touch' rule regarding royalty, with the Queen opting for a simple handshake on receiving lines. Pictured, greeting John Kerry at Windsor Castle last week

There was a tradition of a ‘no touching’ rule for royalty. The Queen preferred a simple handshake on receiving line. Pictured: greeting John Kerry at Windsor Castle last Wednesday

Prince William and Dame Emma Thompson share a hug as they pass each other at the Earthshot Prize awards

Prince William and Dame Emma Thompson hug each other as they pass each others at the Earthshot Prize awards

What protocol is followed when you meet a member of the royal household?  

While there are no formal codes of conduct for meeting Queen Elizabeth II or members of the Royal Family of England, many people prefer to follow the traditional ways.

This is for men. Women do a small bow. Others prefer to shake hands the traditional way.

When presenting The Queen, the correct formal address for presentation is ‘Your Majesty,’ followed by ‘Ma’am’, pronounced with a short “a”, as in jam’.

The same rules apply to male members of Royal Family, with the title used in the initial instance being ‘Your Royal Hirtness’ and then ‘Sir.

For female members of Royal Family, the first address is typically ‘Your Royal Hirstness’ followed by ‘Ma’am’.

It is best not to touch the royal unless they give you their arm.

She pointed out that this approach to interfacing with people was initiated by Princess Diana. She said: “Even after her gloriously spontaneous PDAs, it has taken several decades plus some nudging by Harry and Meghan to get them to where they are today.

Robert Jobson is a royal expert who wrote Prince Philip’s Century. He stated that there was a misconception around the royals’ attitude to physical contact. He also said that occasions of royals being tactile have ‘occurred quite a lot.

He gave two examples: the Queen being held by a woman while on her 1991 US tour; and the Duke lifting a little girl from the crowd in a walkabout celebrating the Queen’s 1990 birthday. 

He said, ‘You’d surprise. Yes, the young royals seem more open and expressive. I was able to see the Prince of Wales being held by the young son a friend. 

Harry and Meghan, like Diana, were certainly fond of hugging when they were working royals. 

‘It was Diana more than anyone else who changed that. She was always open to hugging people, and she famously shook hands a man with HIV/AIDS, almost ending stigma associated with touching someone with this disease.

Lucy Hume is the associate director of Debrett’s. A professional coaching company founded 1769, Lucy Hume is an authority in modern British etiquette. Lucy believes that meeting royals should not initiate psychical contacts, but it’s okay for them to hug you back.

It’s best to avoid physical contact with royals. She said that it was possible for them to offer to hug you or put their arm around your neck, but she prefers to wait to see what’s expected of the event.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were known for their tactile approach to royal engagements

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are well-known for their tactile approach when it comes to royal engagements 

Princess Diana shakes hands with an AIDS patient at Middlesex Hospital, London, in 1987. Judi and Robert agreed Diana was the turning point in the royal approach to physical touch

In 1987, Princess Diana and an AIDS patient at Middlesex Hospital (London) shake hands. Robert and Judi agreed that Diana was the turning moment in royal treatment of physical touch

Judi says that there is a shift towards making royals more accessible via social media, Zoom engagements, and hugging on royal engagements. 

She said that status-lowering rituals are becoming more common. Touch is used to communicate empathy, rapport, and a more human form of affection. 

“This trait is more important now than for most of the public because the royals are expected hug strangers in a manner that is less common among the rest of society. 

‘This directness, intimacy or communication has translated to more tactile behaviours now that lockdowns have eased. 

“Even William, Kate and the rest of the royal generation seem to be increasing the amount of PDA they share with each other and seem much more open to tactile behaviours.