Everyone used to curtsy like Theresa May, says etiquette expert

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent

Prime Minister Theresa May has weekly meetings with the Queen and often meets other members of the Royal Family at official engagements.

But the way in which she performs a curtsy has often been described as ‘unusual’.

Mrs May, 62, has often been photographed sinking into a low curtsy, with her knee almost to the floor, like a lunge.

While she has come under a bit of flak for it, Mrs May is actually performing what is known as an old-fashioned ‘court curtsy.’

Etiquette expert Jo Bryant tells Yahoo UK‘s ‘The Royal Box‘ that the “curtsy historically was quite dramatic and quite deep.”

Theresa May performs a curtsy to the Queen in 2016, when she was appointed Prime Minister [Photo: Getty]

Referring to Theresa May’s greeting, Bryant explains: “That’s what would have been originally called a court curtsy, it’s very traditional, it’s what you would have done if you met Queen Victoria.”

She points out that the Duchess of Cornwall has also been spotted doing some deep curtsying. 

READ MORE: How to curtsy, state banquet protocol and table manners

Nowadays, there’s no obligatory way to greet a member of the Royal Family, but many people still like to observe tradition.

For men, this is a neck bow, while women do a small curtsy.

While the royals do not have to bow or curtsy to each other, they always greet the Queen in that way.

Theresa May greets the Duke of Cambridge last year [Photo: PA]

Bryant, who demonstrates how to curtsy in the video above, says: “It’s left foot in front of right, or right foot before left and it’s just going down and up.

“The most important thing is that you should retain eye contact with the member of the Royal Family.”

Physical contact with the Queen is strictly off-limits and Michelle Obama raised eyebrows when she put her arm around the monarch at the G20 summit in 2009.

The former First Lady recently revealed that the pair were bonding over their sore feet in their high heels.