Very few Rwandans may have ever met the Queen of the United Kingdom since this previously Francophone country joined the Commonwealth community in 2009.
The Queen is officially titled ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’, with the style of ‘Majesty’
Rwanda is again very lucky to have caught the attention of the group of Commonwealth of Nations to be selected as the next host of the Heads of Government Meeting 2020.
This summit is held once every two years although it has been interrupted only twice.
Anything is possible at the forthcoming CHOGM and Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary II may fly to Kigali to attend and if this happens, there are eight strict rules Rwandans should follow if any of them ever meets the Queen.
Don’t touch The Queen: This rule dates back to medieval times, “monarchs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they were kind of seen as gods, so they demanded to be treated as gods.” Happily, the notion of divine right of kings has eased up, but that doesn’t mean you can touch the Queen beyond a formal handshake.
Don’t show up empty handed: Bringing a gift is apparently a must. This gift must also be appropriate to the occasion. If she’s paying a visit to Rwanda, something which reflects local culture might go down better.
Stand to attention: You should always stand when the Queen enters the room. You may only sit once she’s nice and comfortable, so keep a close eye on when the Queen sits down herself.
Don’t Hug the Queen: Rwandans are culturally hugging people, but this is not acceptable with the Queen. When the Queen is being introduced to Rwandan officials or when you’re next in the line to meet her, it’s important you either bow or curtsy (depending on whether you’re a woman or a man), but remember – no hugging.
Dress properly and decently: Make sure you dress accordingly, when meeting HRH the Queen. If the event is black tie, wear a black tie.
Never refer to the Queen with her First Name: While most Rwandans have aliases, and most cases nicknames from childhood, resist the temptation of referring to the Queen by a nickname.
When you first meet the Queen, she should be addressed as “Your Majesty” and “Ma’am” consequently after. When she leaves, however, you must address her as “Your Majesty” once again. No “Liz” or “Lizzie” or – shudder – “sweetheart”.
Only speak if the Queen speaks to you: Don’t speak unless spoken to first and also children should be seen and not heard. This is something in Rwandan culture also shared with the British.
Therefore when Rwandans meet the Queen probably anywhere in Kigali, they should know that they should only speak when the Queen speaks to them. Her Royal Highness controls every aspect of the conversation – including ending the conversation immediately.
Lastly, as expected during CHOGM, there will be foods and drinking and dining etiquette will be extremely observed and conducted the British way.
Don’t eat before the Queen does: No matter how tasty and tempting the banquet morsels spread in front you look, you can only start eating once the Queen does.
But Most importantly, if the Queen has finished eating, you better be full too.