Kate Middleton must bow to these members of the royal family—even though she's in line to be Queen

Kate Middleton must curtsey to certain members of the royal family because of an ancient royal protocol that demands her respect

Kate Middleton must bow to
(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo / Contributor / Getty Images)

Kate Middleton must bow to these members of the royal family because of an ancient protocol that says she must respect those who are born with titles.


In the royal line of succession, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle are far more likely to become Queen than Princess Eugenie or Princess Beatrice, but because of a weird royal tradition, Kate and Meghan must still bow down to their cousins-in-law who were born into royalty.

British aristocracy expert Wendy Bosberry-Scott has revealed that women who marry into the royal family are seen as having lower status than their full-royal blood partners.

Editor at etiquette publisher Debrett's, Wendy told People (opens in new tab), "Women of the royal family who marry in like Kate and Meghan gain their titles by marriage and therefore are of a lower rank than those born into their titles."

"Essentially, the hierarchy exists to ensure that the princesses who are born with royal blood, like Eugenie and Beatrice, aren't kind of pushed to one side."

"As far as the public is concerned, the most visible representation of this tends to be the order in which they might stand at a public event, or the order in which they might enter or leave a room, or who curtsies to whom."

This means that as wives to Prince Harry and Prince William, Kate and Meghan must bow to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, and even Princess Anne who is fifteenth in line to the throne

Although Anne is the second of the Queen's children, rules and the time dictated that the women in the family were in line to the throne came behind their brothers in the line of succession. However, this sexist rule has been axed in recent years.

Kate Middleton

The Royal Family Attend Easter Day Service In Windsor in 2017

(Image credit: Samir Hussein / Contributor / Getty Images)

The expert also revealed that even more bizarrely, Kate and Meghan's status depends on whether their husband is in the room or not. 

Wendy said, "when the wives are with their husbands, their status is elevated to reflect the fact that the men are present."

"As the men have a higher rank than the princesses (Anne, Eugenie, and Beatrice) they have precedence, and this higher rank is reflected on their wives, so they are then moved ahead."

This means that so long while her husband is in the room, Kate doesn't have to curtsey to her Princesses in the family as she technically outranks them. Meghan must also curtsey to Kate as Prince William has a higher rank in the royal family than the Duke of Sussex.

The Duchess of Cornwall also has a tricky relationship with curtseying in the royal family. As she is married to the heir apparent she outranks her daughter-in-law, and all of the Princesses, even if she is alone, but she must bow to her sister-in-law Princess Anne.

If accompanied by Prince Charles, Princess Alexandra and Princess Anne instead must curtsey to Camilla. This is a sore spot for the royal-blooded Princess Anne who once claimed Camilla would never be a true Queen and quarreled with Charles about her title. 

Princess Anne and Camilla

Princess Anne and the Duchess of Cornwall

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo / Contributor / Getty Images)

When the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge eventually become Queens, all members of the royal family will have to bow to them. 

Unfortunately for Meghan Markle, Prince Harry is unlikely to become King, so the protocol about her curtseying for other members of the royal family is likely to always be in place.

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.