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What does the Royal Family actually say about curtsying?

Watch: Meghan describes her first attempt at curtsying to the Queen

The elaborate curtsy Meghan demonstrated in her new Netflix documentary has sparked criticism - even outrage - in some quarters.

The clip in question showed the couple talking about the first time she met the late Queen Elizabeth, with Harry informing her ahead of time that she would be expected to curtsy to his grandmother.

The show then sees Meghan jokingly demonstrate her overblown attempt at curtsying to the monarch, and describing the experience was "intense".

"This is a big deal. I mean, American's will understand this. We have Medieval Times, dinner and tournament. It was like that [...] And then when [the Queen] left, Eugenie and Jack and Fergie say, 'You did great!'. Thanks, I didn't know what I was doing".

Sarah Vine, columnist for the Daily Mail, tweeted that she believed in the scene Meghan was mocking British culture.

"Why is it ok for Meghan to mock our culture in this way? Or does racism only work one way"?

Meghan demonstrated her first attempt at curtsying in the new Netflix documentary. (Netflix)
Meghan demonstrated her first attempt at curtsying in the new Netflix documentary. (Netflix)

Conservative commentator Sophie Corcoran echoed Vine's sentiments, tweeting that the clip was "disrespectful".

Royal editor from ITV — Chris Ship — noted that he believes Harry "looks a little uncomfortable" in the clip, as Meghan made fun of herself.

However, many have defended the duchess in light of these criticisms. Comedian Susie McCabe questioned whether curtsying was really a part of British culture and journalist Noelle Devoe pointed out Meghan was not mocking the Queen, but even if she were the tradition is "archaic".

Commentator and podcaster Kelechi Okafor tweeted that she thought it was crazy to be upset about a curtsy, "but not the fact that an elite white supremacist family for centuries have justified their dominion over you, by spewing jargon about being divinely ordained to rule over you".

Regardless of the position, it highlights a somewhat archaic tradition that clearly some people believe is important - but what does the Royal Family actually say?

Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence (4R), Britain's Sophie, Countess of Wessex (2R) and Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York (R) stands as Britain's Princess Anne, the Princess Royal curtseys to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland, as it is carried in to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, in Edinburgh on September 11, 2022. - The coffin carrying the body of Queen Elizabeth II left her beloved Balmoral Castle on Sunday, beginning a six-hour journey to the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP) (Photo by AARON CHOWN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Princess Anne curtsied to her mother's coffin as it was transported into the Palace of Holyroodhouse, other members of the royal household quickly followed her lead. (Getty Images)

The royal rules on curtsying

According to the Royal Family's official website there are no rules associated with greeting a member of the House of Windsor. That means you don't have to bow or curtsy - unless you feel like it.

"There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms", the website reads.

It goes onto describe what a bow or curtsy entails if people do want to make one, but reiterates that the normal greeting of shaking hands is also fine.

However, the Royal Family do take the hierarchy surrounding the crown seriously amongst themselves. They are often seen quickly bowing or curtsying to the monarch at public events and, as Harry said in the documentary, there is an expectation to keep this formality up in private.

During the mourning period, the Royal Family were seen bowing and curtsying to the Queen's coffin, both during official ceremonies and outside of them.

For instance, Princess Anne travelled with her mother's coffin from Balmoral back to London and at every stage of the journey would curtsy to the late monarch's coffin.

Within the family itself, the royal traditions are taken seriously, which is presumably why Meghan said she was nervous about curtsying correctly. However, she would have broken no official rule or protocol if she had decided not to do so.