Prim and proper: Etiquette for a royal visit to Capitol Hill

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding might have passed, but next week Washington is scheduled to get one more dose of British royalty. 

England’s Prince Edward is slated to attend a royal reception Monday with Sens. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina MORE (D-N.C.), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-La.), Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranGOP Senate candidate doubles down on Robert E. Lee despite Twitter poll GOP Senate candidate polls followers on whether Robert E. Lee was hero or villain Mississippi courthouse named for Thad Cochran MORE (R-Miss.) and Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerMississippi courthouse named for Thad Cochran GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers eye ban on Chinese surveillance cameras | DOJ walks back link between fraud case, OPM breach | GOP senators question Google on Gmail data | FCC under pressure to delay Sinclair merger review MORE (R-Miss.), as well as Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan in honor of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award — The Young Americans’ Challenge. Earlier in the day, the prince is planning to meet with Education Secretary Arne DuncanArne Starkey DuncanObama Education Secretary: US education system is 'top 10 in nothing' Obama Cabinet official: Trump doesn’t want educated workforce Obama Education secretary: DeVos's yacht set adrift a 'crazy metaphor' for her policy MORE, according to Josh Randle, national executive director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

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Indeed, Washington is seeing its fair share of European royalty this summer. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark toured House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office last week before attending opening night of the Royal Danish Ballet as guest of honor at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

From controversial embraces with royalty — first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaNASA says Aretha Franklin’s asteroid will keep orbiting after singer’s death Biden: Aretha Franklin was 'part of the soul of the civil rights movement' Obamas: 'Aretha helped define the American experience' MORE cuddled up to Queen Elizabeth II in 2009, though Buckingham Palace defended the gesture as “a mutual and spontaneous display of affection”— to President Obama’s bungled toast to the queen last month when he spoke over the British national anthem, we Americans have fumbled through regal encounters in the past.

In anticipation of this week’s activities, anyone socializing with the prince — or any other member of the royal family — would do well to listen to some expert guidance on how to avoid such royal missteps from Nancy Mitchell, owner of Protocol Partners: Washington Center for Protocol.

First off, Mitchell advises everyone to stand — and stand quickly — whenever His Royal Highness enters a room.

But do not bow, Mitchell instructs, citing a “protocol firestorm” Obama caused after bowing to monarchs in past years. Americans are not subjects of foreign royal families, Mitchell explains, so bowing is inappropriate. 

“I think that was what the American Revolution was all about, if I’m not mistaken,” she said.

Mitchell also warns against shaking the prince’s hand, unless the prince extends his first. Though traditional rules against touching royalty have relaxed, “we should not be the first person to have our hand out,” she says. 

When conversing with the prince, Mitchell recommends calling him “Your Royal Highness,” and scaling back to “Sir” after several references.

Finally, when in doubt, proceed with formality, as most mistakes arise because we act too informally.

“We say what we want to say, when we want to say it. We live in the moment,” Mitchell explains of the American mentality.

The British, on the other hand, “are sticklers for protocol and details, and we want to rise to the occasion,” she said.