25+ Celebrities Who Broke Protocol When Meeting the Royal Family


| LAST UPDATE 11/25/2021

By Chloe Becker

From Gaga to LeBron, these celebrities broke protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family. Whether it was too much touching or forgetting their titles, there were some major no-no's.

Beyoncé - Used a Nickname

Even Queen B forgets royal protocol sometimes. Maybe the Bey Hive has different rules from British royalty. Either way, the Duchess of Sussex didn't seem to mind the singer's transgression when the pair met at the Lion King premiere in 2019, along with their respective partners.

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So what exactly did Bey do that is considered a royal no-no? Those meeting members of the royal family are encouraged to address the person by their proper title. But Beyoncé referred to Meghan by a nickname: "My Princess," the singer lovingly said as she leaned in for a hug.

Liam Payne - Touched the Queen

Starting off our list of celebrities who broke royal protocol is teen heartthrob and former One Direction member Liam Payne. The singer broke one of the traditions when meeting the Queen back in March 2018.

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The 28-year-old didn't adhere to the "no touching" protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth, as he initiated the handshake. But considering it wasn't his first rodeo with the royal member, we can't really blame him! Liam is no stranger to the Queen, and let's be honest, she seemed happy with the interaction.

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Cara Delevingne - Prank Called a Prince

Cara Delevingne is one celeb who feels very comfortable with the royal family. The actress has attended their weddings and other events, where she's been seen chatting it up with anyone from Prince Charles to Prince William. And on one occasion, she broke protocol by prank calling a Prince.

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"Cara knows Harry and while we were filming Suicide Squad she was like, 'Let's prank call him,'" Margot Robbie revealed to The Sun. "I said, 'We can't brank call royalty,' but anyway we did - and he was so cool with it. Prince Harry is so nice. England literally has the coolest royalty in the world."

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Lady Gaga - Violated Dress Code

Up next is another dress code violation by the one-and-only Lady Gaga. The Grammy-winner broke royal protocol by wearing a bold dress and makeup while meeting the Queen, while tradition states that one should wear formal clothes in neutral tones. "I wanted to dress like a queen in a British fashion, and I also wanted to do it in my way," Gaga shared.

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"We thought that we would give this look of a queen a modern twist by making it in latex, and at the time, Atsuko Kudo were the only designers that I could think of that were actually tailoring latex in this way," she detailed. "It's very difficult to tailor latex." Well, Queen Elizabeth sure seemed impressed.

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David Beckham - Sent Suspicious Emails

This famous soccer star hasn't technically broken any royal protocols, but he's been accused by some of, quite frankly, sucking up to Queen Elizabeth. David Beckham caught the attention of his millions of fans and the media when he repeatedly honored the royal family on social media.

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Some people viewed Beckham's Instagram posts about the Queen, where he also discussed his involvement with royal charities, as a bit boastful and accused the athlete of trying too hard to earn a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth. And the leaking of some controversial emails David wrote - which proved the knighthood suspicions - didn't help.

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Anna Wintour - Wore Sunglasses

When Queen Elizabeth made her front row debut at Fashion Week, she sat next to renowned fashion editor Anna Wintour - who broke a major protocol. "Ms. Wintour should know that to wear sunglasses when talking to another person, with no medical reason, is unacceptable," royal expert Grant Harrold told the Press Association.

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"She should have removed them before being in the presence of the Queen, let alone in discussion," he added. But Harrold admitted Queen Elizabeth didn't seem to mind: "She would probably have noticed and internally thought it was a bit odd, but the Queen has seen it all and clearly took it all in her stride!"

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Serena Williams - Took a Selfie

"Turning your back to the Duke and Duchess and taking a selfie is discouraged," explained tourism advisor Jennifer Gehmair. But when British royalty meets tennis royalty, we guess some exceptions can be made. And that's exactly what happened when Serena Williams met Kate Middleton.

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Facebook via Serena Williams

The superstar excitedly posed for a selfie with the Duchess of Cambridge when they met post-match. "I'm with the 'in-crowd' now - I'm with royalty!" Serena adorably said in a snapchat video, with Kate next to her and Sophie, Countess of Wessex smiling in the back.

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Sam Smith - Bowed Too Deeply

Some Hollywood icons have simply taken royal protocol too far. Such was the case when performer Sam Smith met Prince William. The singer reportedly did a ninety-degree bow for the royal member, a bit too deep for royal standards. But they took it in stride.

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"Prince William clearly looks amused," Smith hilariously reflected on The Tonight Show in 2015. "My issue is that I watch too much Downtown Abbey. You get instructions, they say you've got to bow with one arm behind your back. If someone tells you to bow - I properly went for it!"

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Ed Sheeran - Grabbed a Prince

As an English singer, it's hardly surprising that Ed Sheeran has had multiple encounters with British royalty. And while most of them went smoothly, one interaction with Prince Charles caught the public's attention: the performer grabbed the prince's arm as they shook hands.

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"Apparently, I did a big faux pass, though," Sheeran admitted to NBC. "I shook his hand and then grabbed it and you're not meant to do that." Luckily, Prince Charles didn't seem to care. "He was asking me if I was still selling lots of records," Ed remembered.

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Angelina Jolie - Violated Dress Code

Angelina Jolie met the Queen back in 2014 when the actress received an Honorary Dame Grand Cross award in the palace. And it's a good thing she was there to be honored, because Jolie broke some Buckingham fashion rules. Take a look at the photo below.

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The common eye might not find any indescretions, but Angelina had two: she wore peep-toed shoes and no pantyhose. But with such a lovely presence (and a beautiful lilac jacket and skirt suit) it didn't seem like Queen Elizabeth cared too much that her guest didn't follow tradition.

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LeBron James - Hugged a Duchess

LeBron James broke one of the cardinal rules of meeting royals: do not touch them. The basketball star gave Kate Middleton a friendly hug as they posed for a photo, something totally natural - except for when one is with the Duchess of Cambridge. Luckily, neither Kate nor Prince William seemed to mind.

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"Sometimes, the royal family quite like it when things go wrong because it adds a bit of humor and it gives them something to enjoy and talk about," an etiquette expert reportedly told Insider. While we might never know for sure, we like to imagine Kate and William bonding over their moment with LeBron.

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Ginger Spice - Touched a Prince

Forget grabbing a Prince's arm or hugging a Duchess: Geri Halliwell AKA Ginger Spice took things to the next level when she touched Prince Charles' behind during the Spice World premiere. Years later, Geri addressed the scandal during an interview with The Times.

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"I didn't pinch Prince Charles's bum, as was reported. I patted it," Geri clarified. "Patting him on the bottom was against royal protocol but we're all human. It was the premiere of our film, Spice World, in the late nineties. There was a lot of nervous energy - young women, happy antics."

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Barack Obama - Spoke During the Royal Anthem

The Obama family has a track record of breaking royal protocol (by accident, of course). The former President did a big oopsie back in 2011 while attending a state dinner with Queen Elizabeth. Barack stood up to toast Her Majesty, the Queen, when things took a turn.

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The orchestra at the dinner thought Obama had finished his toast and broke into a rendition of God Save the Queen. But Barack was not finished, and continued speaking over the song - a big no, no. British tabloids could hardly believe the former President's mishap.

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Helen Mirren - Rejected an Invite

Helen Mirren could have more than one spot on this list, as the critically-acclaimed actress has broken royal protocol on two separate occasions. The Woman in Gold starlet caused an uproar when news broke that she rejected an invite to the royal palace.

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"Mirren 'too busy' to meet the Queen," the media claimed. And while that was true, Mirren is no stranger to the royal family and ultimately made up for her misconduct. On another occasion, when Helen was having an intimate tea with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, she admitted to forgetting how to properly address the Prince.

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Michelle Obama - Hugged the Queen

Michelle Obama also made headlines after her interaction with Queen Elizabeth: the former First Lady broke protocol by giving Her Majesty a hug. "Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I'd flown to London on a presidential jet; we were two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes," Michelle later reflected in her memoir.

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"I then did what's instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder," she detailed. "I daresay the Queen was okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back."

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Brendan Cole - Danced With a Duchess

Brendan Cole broke a big royal protocol when he asked Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, for a dance during an event at Buckingham Palace. Rumors later swirled that the mishap was the reason why Brendan got cut from the reality TV show, Strictly Come Dancing.

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"I don't know about royal protocol - I don't know what you can and cannot do necessarily," said Janette Manrara, a former co-star of Cole's who was also at the event that caught the attention of endless media tabloids. She added, "But I do know that [Camilla] seemed happy to get a little waltz in there."

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Marilyn Monroe - Violated Dress Code

Imagine being the Queen of England for so long that you've had the honor of meeting Liam Payne and Marilyn Monroe. What a dream. The two icons met back in 1956 when they were both thirty years old. So which protocol was the 50s starlet breaking at The Battle of the River Plate premiere?

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By today's dress standards, it's likely people would hardly blink an eye at what Marilyn wore during her first - and only - encounter with the Queen. But in the 50s, Monroe's dress was considered quite revealing and taboo for a royal encounter and landed her on many headlines.

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Mickey Rooney - Kissed the Queen

Arguably one of the biggest royal meeting indescritions was committed by the late Mickey Rooney. The renowned actor, producer, and radio personality was so excited when he met Queen Elizabeth that he forgot all of the rules and gave her a big kiss on the hand.

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While Queen Elizabeth didn't seem distressed by his actions, she didn't look quite thrilled, either. The late Rooney spoke openly about his admiration for the Queen and the other British royals, and gushed about what an honor it was to meet her after the hand-kiss.

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Elizabeth Taylor - Ditched a Princess

Elizabeth Taylor, a royal in her own right, and Princess Margaret had quite the complicated relationship. The late actress reportedly broke royal protocol on several occasions: she left an event before Princess Margaret even arrived and fell asleep at another event hosted by the Princess. Taylor's then husband, Richard Burton, didn't think highly of the royals.

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"We have to see Princess Margaret again at the opening night of Staircase," Burton wrote in his diary in 1969. "And she is infinitely boringly, uncomfortable to be around, and I don't know how I can suffer to see myself in the film in front of such a snob-ridden laod of s***s as one always gets [around her]." Ouch!

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Sophia Loren - Wore a Tiara

Sophia Loren looked stunning as she wore a beautiful small hat with flowers upon meeting Princess Margaret. But the attire choice came after a hard-learned lesson the year before, when the actress wore a tiara to meet Queen Elizabeth. "I was young, and I had wanted to see the effect of wearing a tiara," she recalled to Vogue.

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"Unfortunately they told me too late that if the Queen is there, you cannot wear a tiara: She is the only one who can wear a crown," Sophia continued. "It had no effect on the Queen, of course, because she is very smart. But it made publicity, which is what the producer of the film wanted. It was a game."

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Emilia Clarke - Forgot the Prince's Proper Title

Emilia Clarke had quite the royal blunder when meeting Prince William. The Mother of Dragons might've been an on-screen royal herself, but meeting the real deal made the actress super nervous. Emilia received some short training on the proper etiquette but her brain went blank when the moment arrived.

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Clarke couldn't remember how to address the Prince. "For whatever reason, maybe because I was so scared, I couldn't manage to get out 'Your Royal Highness,' so it was kind of like, 'ra... ra...' It was pretty much all I managed," Clarke recalled on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

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Lewis Hamilton - Broke Lunching Etiquette

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton was likely very flattered when he got an invite to eat with Her Majesty. "I got invited to a lunch and was sitting next to the Queen," he detailed. But the 36-year-old wasn't in the best shape when it came to royal etiquette.

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Hamilton didn't know that there's a specific order of who to speak with during royal lunches. "I was excited and started to talk to [the Queen], but she said, pointing to my left, 'No, you speak that way first and I'll speak this way and then I'll come back to you.'"

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Allison Janney - Used a Nickname

Allison Janney broke multiple royal traditions and had one very awkward encounter with the Duchess of Cambridge. The actress and Kate Middleton were leaving the BAFTAs at the Royal Albert Hall when they ran into each other and, well, we'll just let Janney tell the rest.

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"She was in her heels and pregnant, so I felt like a bit of a wimp that I was there in my bare feet," Allison shared. "I told her that she should take her shoes off, and it was an award moment. I called her 'honey,' and that might've not been royal etiquette, probably."

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Ben Affleck - Didn't Recognize the Royals

Ben Affleck might've not violated any official protocols, but he certainly didn't follow any either. The actor once didn't even realize he was in the presence of royals! The whole encounter happened at an indoor play center in London. "It was pretty empty and then I noticed this weird vibe from the other grown-ups," Ben recalled.

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The Justice League star continued, "They were all very well dressed and they had earpieces and I thought, 'For a kids place this is tight security!' I was the very last person to realize that Prince George and Princess Charlotte were in there playing with my kid."

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Margot Robbie - Prank Called a Prince

Margot Robbie got an honorable mention earlier on in this list. The actress completely broke royal protocol alongside friend and Suicide Squad co-star Cara Delevingne when the two women prank-called Prince Harry. And that wasn't Margot's only run-in with the monarchy.

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During a party at Suki Waterhouse's house, Robbie had a full-on conversation with Prince Harry - and had no idea it was him. "I didn't know it was him for about half an hour talking to him," the Hollywood icon later admitted of the encounter. It might've not been in violation of any official protocol, but it was certainly a faux pas.

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Joe Biden - Wore Sunglasses

President Joe Biden took a page out of Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour during one of his royal encounters. Biden left his sunglasses on while interacting with the queen, a total breach of royal protocol. We're not sure what to make of Queen Elizabeth's expression - perhaps the sun was just too much and made Her Majesty uncomfortable?

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"If you're meeting the Queen face-to-face, there's no sunglasses or anything like that at all because eye contact is quite important with any introduction," Grant Harrold, who served as a royal butler to Prince Charles, explained to Newsweek. Oopsies, Joe! Well, we live and we learn.

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Vladimir Putin - Arrived Late

One of the main - and perhaps most obvious - royal rules? Don't keep Her Majesty waiting. Punctuality is polite in most situations, and especially when meeting the Queen. But Vladimir Putin didn't seem to think so back in 2003: the Prime Minister kept Queen Elizabeth waiting for around fifteen minutes!

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Then again, the Queen shouldn't take it personally. Putin is notorious for keeping people waiting, whether it's Her Majesty or Pope Francis. But it looks like the monarchy isn't above a little payback. Queen Elizabeth was reportedly fourteen minutes late to her next planned meeting with Putin.

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