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Everything You’ll Need to Know About Attending the Royal Wedding

Tom Markle and Doria Ragland request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter, Rachel Meghan Markle, to Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor on the nineteenth of May, two thousand and eighteen.

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Invitations for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in May, after they have been printed at the workshop of Barnard and Westwood in London.REX/Shutterstock

Invitation to the wedding

Pip-pip, Old Bean, the royal wedding is nigh, and you can’t wait to attend! In preparation, you’ve caught up on the first two seasons of The Crown, boned up on your P. G. Wodehouse, and suffered through a dish of blood pudding. Yes, you are ready! All you need now is an invitation. Hmm, it’s no doubt on your dining room table, buried beneath that mountain of Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. While you sift through, let’s review a checklist of everything you’ll need to know.

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Queen Elizabeth II receives a Kelpies sculpture as a gift on a visit to the Kelpies to open the Queen Elizabeth II Canal at the Helix Park, Falkirk.Ross McDairmant Photography/Shutterstock


Even under normal circumstances, buying a wedding gift is complex. But buying a gift for someone who is sixth in line to become king is fraught with pitfalls. For example, where is the royal couple registered? If it’s Bed Bath & Beyond, then great news for you! You can finally use your coupons to buy them a shower curtain. If they’re registered at Tea Cozies“R”Us in Clotted-Cream-on-Thames, then that’s a bit of a sticky wicket, what?

But here’s the excellent news: It doesn’t matter what you buy! Protocol dictates that the royals must accept every gift, no matter how awful. For Christmas, Meghan Markle gave the queen a singing toy hamster, and the queen loved it so much, she gave it to her corgis. So this might be an opportune time to unload that olive pitter your sister gave you for your birthday. Of course, if the dogs already have an olive pitter and a shower curtain, you can simply cut a $50 check. What newlyweds can’t use cash for a rainy day?

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Donna Air, left, arrives at St Mark's Church in Englefield, England, ahead of the wedding of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews, . Middleton, the sister of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge is to marry hedge fund manager James Matthews in a ceremony Saturday where her niece and nephew Prince George and Princess Charlotte are in the wedding party, along with sister Kate and princes Harry and WilliamAP/REX/Shutterstock

What to wear at the ceremony

Did you get your fascinator yet? That’s a trick question because you probably don’t even know what a fascinator is. Royal dress code etiquette states that women must wear hats for formal events, and fascinators are the preferred accessory. These funny chapeaus boast a large decorative design—often vaguely floral—attached to a band or clip. If you haven’t packed one, no worries. Simply glue a cabbage to the side of your head. No one will be the wiser, and you can always snack on your fascinator should the wedding ceremony drag on.

Gentlemen are expected to wear morning coats and top hats (make sure you’ve removed the rabbit). Royals will likely don their military uniforms. Important! If Prince ­Philip’s uniform includes a sword, do not remove it from its sheath and butter your roll with it. Nor should you upbraid Prince Charles with it should he cut in line. He has a sword too.

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Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto official state visit to London, Britain - 03 Mar 2015REX/Shutterstock

Meeting the royals

Men, when greeting the royals, a simple bow will do. Not so low that it looks as if you’re examining the carpet for any medals they might have dropped. This is a subtle neck bow. Women perform a curtsy. Simply put one leg behind the other, bend your knees, bow your head slightly—and fall over because you’ve never done this before.

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Sir David Attenborough joins Queen Elizabeth II in the gardens of Buckingham PalaceREX/Shutterstock

Chatting up the Queen

The first rule of talking to the queen: Don’t talk. That is, unless spoken to. If she does start a conversation and you find you’ve run out of interesting stuff to discuss after “Hello,” break the ice with a joke. “Hey, why did the queen go to the dentist? To get her teeth crowned!”

Watch the queen’s reaction. It’s said that if she moves her handbag from its normal spot on her left arm to her right arm, her handlers know that she wants to wrap up her chat with you. Don’t be deterred. “What’s a royal pardon? What you say when a queen burps!” If the queen places her handbag on the floor, that is a sign that she needs to be saved from an uncomfortable encounter ASAP. This is your sign to press on. “When is a piece of wood like a queen? When it’s a ruler!” If the queen takes her handbag and stuffs it in your mouth, that signifies that she’s not waiting for help.

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State Banquet for the visit of the President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil in Windsor Castle, Britain - 27 Oct 2009REX/Shutterstock


Every meal begins and ends with the queen. You can’t start eating until she starts, and you stop when she stops. The queen doesn’t appear to be a large eater, so you should snarf down your food lest she shove the plate away after a few bites while proclaiming, “Oh, Philip, why’d you let me eat that last grouse!”

When dining, the royals hold knives in their right hand and forks in their left with the tines facing down. Instead of stabbing their food and making a complete mess like normal people, they turn the meal into a gymnastic event by balancing morsels on the back of their forks, then bringing them to their mouths. Should they spill even a pea, they drop one spot in the royal line of succession.

Royals do not inhale their food. Nor do they lick their plates, dunk their doughnuts, play drums with the oyster fork and bouillon spoon, or point to the half-eaten partridge on the plate of the Duchess of Loch Ness and say, “Are you gonna eat that?”

If royals need to use the little monarchs’ room, they don’t shout, “Hey, nobody use the third stall. That’s mine!” They simply say, “Excuse me,” then cross their utensils so waitstaff know not to take their plate. When royals are finished, utensil handles are placed at the bottom right of the plate. To signify that they want a doggie bag, they mold the mashed potatoes into the shape of a corgi.

Have you unearthed your invitation yet? No? Don’t worry. Season three of The Crown will soon be on. You can watch it while eating. And in your home, the tines can face any way you want them to. (Don’t worry if you didn’t get invited, there are other royal family milestones you might have missed.)

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Andy Simmons
Andy Simmons is a features editor at Reader's Digest.