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Saturday, February 24, 2024

King Charles III: Why does protocol forbid touching the king?

As it was already the case for his mother, Elizabeth II, the protocol forbids anyone to touch King Charles III. But then, for what reasons? The British journalist Stephen Clarke had explained this very important rule to our colleagues of France Inter, in June 2022.

Beware of the one who would dare to touch a hair of the king! As it was the case with the late Elizabeth II, the English royal protocol forbids indeed to touch the monarch. According to British journalist Stephen Clarke, who spoke to France Inter in 2022, it is indeed “frowned upon to touch” the King of England. “The custom would like that we can shake his hand only if (he) extends it to us,” said the expert at the time. But then, where does this rule come from? This custom has its origin in “the protocol heritage of the English monarchy.” According to the information reported by our colleagues, there was a time when the monarch held his power from God. Therefore, he and the members of his family were untouchable. What about today?

Based on Stephen Clarke’s expertise, “that’s not really the case anymore, although the tradition remains in place.” And he explains, “You’re not going to be executed if you touch the Queen. That’s true especially for journalists,” the British journalist noted. If the simple fact of touching the king is not recommended, and is even discouraged, this gesture is not however prohibited. On the Royal UK website, we learn that there is “no mandatory code of conduct other than simple courtesy.” Yet aware of the protocol, some political figures have committed the irreparable. We remember, for example, that day in 2009 when Michelle Obama broke the rules of the British monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II when she came to Buckingham Palace for the G20. Same thing in 2018, with Donald Trump this time, who had not bowed to the sovereign and had allowed himself to walk in front of her. Shocking!


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This day when Jacques Chirac has offended Elizabeth II

Jacques Chirac is not in rest when it comes to breaking the protocol. In 2004, the husband of Bernadette Chirac was invited to London by Queen Elizabeth II, on the occasion of the centenary of the Entente Cordiale. But as reported in the documentary Elizabeth II, 70 years of reign, secrets and scandals, broadcast on C8 in May 2022, the former president of the Republic has chained the couacs during his visit to Britain. “The official procession is a few minutes late because it is the day when the English government has agreed to ban hunting with hounds or foxes. And naturally, what was supposed to happen, Chirac arrived late in Windsor and the Queen was not there to welcome him”, recalled Jean-Louis Debré, then president of the National Assembly.

Once there, Jacques Chirac wondered where the monarch was, with whom he had an appointment: “I see Chirac going up the stairs and he says to me: ‘Where is the queen? Where is the queen? Where is the queen?'”. He was told that, as he was late, the queen had gone back to her apartments,” said Jean-Louis Debré, who accompanied him on this official trip to the United Kingdom. Indeed, vexed to have suffered an affront from the French president, the mother of King Charles III voluntarily withdrew to make him wait. After having made her host wait for a long time, Elizabeth II finally decided to join him.

Photo credits: Agency / Bestimage

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