It is Charles III's first state visit. in his new role as Britain's King. Together with Queen Camilla he arrives in Berlin this Wednesday – and stays in Germany for three days. The royal couple's program is tight and offers civil society several opportunities for encounters. But what if you happen to bump into the king and his wife?
According to the Royal Family in London, there are no mandatory rules of conduct when meeting the King or any member of the Royal Family. However, many people want to stick to the traditional forms, according to the royals' website. We've collected a few tips for dealing with the British king.
For men, that means bowing your head at a meeting, for women a little curtsy. "But only briefly, nothing too dramatic," recommends Royal observer Craig Prescott in an interview with the German Press Agency. Others simply shake hands in the usual way. "Everyone can take it as they like," a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Berlin told dpa.
And how do you address the Majesties? "When addressing someone for the first time, such as at the Brandenburg Gate, say 'Your Majesty'," explains the embassy spokeswoman. "Then if the conversation continues, switch to 'sir'." Charles' wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, is also addressed as "Your Majesty" – and then changes to "Ma'am". Namely, the "a" in "ma'am" is pronounced short like "jam" or "lamb" (English for lamb), not long like "palm" (English for palm)", Prescott out.
Touching is forbidden: "You don't actually touch members of the royal family," says the monarchy observer. Laying a hand on the shoulder in a friendly manner or approaching the king or kings too personally should be avoided. However, Queen Elizabeth II, who died last year, took it very calmly when former First Lady Michelle Obama put her arm around her shoulders – and even returned the gesture.
"All of a sudden, this little white-gloved arm went around (Michelle) Obama's waist," Prescott recalled. Despite the special encounter, the expert advises keeping your composure: "Don't become a trembling bundle of nerves!"
Not every topic is suitable for royal small talk. "Nothing too controversial," recommends Prescott, who teaches constitutional law at Bangor University in Wales. "The discussion about Harry and Meghan should perhaps be better left." On the other hand, it is a good idea to wait and let the king or queen decide the topic of conversation themselves.
Getting an autograph from the royals is considered a no-go – but the selfies, which are much more contemporary anyway, are not. "The Royals have gotten very used to it," says Prescott. Especially outside when bathing in the crowd, snapshots and selfies are now the order of the day. Queen Elizabeth II even once did "photobombing" at the Commonwealth Games - i.e. surprisingly cheated herself into a photo with athletes.