While many people have temporarily abandoned handshakes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there’s at least one person who hasn’t really had to break the habit: Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, Princess Anne.
As Reader’s Digest reports, royal family members have long been discouraged from shaking hands with the public simply because it wouldn’t be realistic to bestow a handshake upon every person clamoring for one in a crowd. But the Queen herself began to break with that tradition in the 1970s, and some of her relatives have followed suit—not Princess Anne, though.
“We never shook hands. The theory was that you couldn’t shake hands with everybody, so don’t start. So I kind of stick with that, but I noticed others don’t,” Princess Anne explained in the HBO documentary Queen of the World. “It's not for me to say that it's wrong, but I think the initial concept was that it was patently absurd to start shaking hands. And it seems to be that it's become a ‘shaking hands’ exercise rather than a walkabout, if you see what I mean.”
Even if you happen to meet the Queen or another British royal who’s been known to indulge in a ‘shaking hands’ exercise in the past, it’s still considered bad manners for you to initiate it.
“If you are a member of the public meeting a member of the royal family, you should never offer your hand to shake,” Grant Harrold, etiquette expert and former royal butler, told Insider. “Wait for them to initiate the handshake.”
Your chances are better if said royal happens to be wearing gloves, which they often don before public engagements where they plan to shake a lot of hands. The practice, perhaps unsurprisingly, helps shield them from germs.
[h/t Reader’s Digest]