MPs receive guide to royal protocol

21:29, Mar 25 2014
Prince George
HEADING THIS WAY: Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, with their son George.

Prime Minister John Key wants to change the flag but some things never change - such as the way to treat royals on visits to New Zealand.

MPs have been sent a guide to royal protocol ahead of the visit next month which includes instructions to refer to the Duchess of Cambridge as "Your Royal Highness" in the first instance, followed by "Ma'am (rhyming with jam)" thereafter.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their infant son Prince George are visiting as part of a three-week tour Down Under.

The missive instructing MPs on how to behave was sent out by the office of Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae yesterday.

In a section dubbed "Protocol points to note", MPs are given advice on what to say and how to act.

"There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting a member of the royal family, but many people like to observe the traditional forms of greeting," the advice states.


Men are instructed to perform a "neck bow (from the head only)" and women to curtsy, though shaking hands is OK also.

Similar to the way his wife is to be addressed, Prince William is to be referred to as "Your Royal Highness" in the first instance, and "Sir" after that.

The dress code is a cocktail dress for women and a lounge suit or jacket, pants and tie for men, while military dress is OK along with korowai or other cloaks.

Photos are a no-no, however.

Breaches of royal protocol are not uncommon and are major news fodder in the UK when they occur.

In 2011, US President Barack Obama made headlines when he raised his glass to toast the Queen - a signal for the band to start - before continuing to speak but struggling to be heard over the music afterwards.

Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating was dubbed "The Lizard of Oz" when he put his arm around the Queen's back in 1992. The US First Lady, Michelle Obama, put her arm on the Queen's back in 2009, but she was reciprocating the gesture from Her Majesty.

Former US president George W Bush reportedly winked at the Queen after mistakenly saying she first toured the US in 1776, while writer Kathy Lette famously met her while wearing a frock covered in crowned corgis - the Queen's favourite dog.

Fairfax Media