It is of course an honour to meet a member of the British royal family. But there are rules about what you can and can’t do should you have that honour. These stars have all been fortunate enough to come face-to-face with royalty – but won’t forget the day in a hurry after some very awkward situations arose …
Cate Blanchett revealed on The Jonathan Ross Show that she had attended a lunch at Buckingham Palace. At first, the actress was curious about why she had been invited and wondered if it was because she had played the queen in Elizabeth. Then Prince Philip addressed her. She said: “I sat next to him and he said, ‘I hear you’re an actor? Well, I was given a DVD player for Christmas and I can’t work out whether I put the green cord in or the red cord.’” Unfortunately for Philip, she admitted to being no better at it than he was.
While in London a few years ago, Ben Affleck took his son Samuel to a children’s indoor play centre and met Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the eldest children of the Prince William and Kate Middleton. Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, he recalled: “It was pretty empty and then I noticed this weird vibe from the other grown-ups. 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 realise that Prince George and Princess Charlotte were in there playing with my kid.”
There are a lot of rules to adhere to when meeting royalty and Emilia Clarke struggled to remember them all when she met Prince William. On Late Night with Seth Meyers, she admitted that she began to stutter. She said: “And for whatever reason, because I was so scared, I couldn’t manage to get out ‘your royal highness’. And it was kind of like a … ‘your royalllasfblealll’.”
Actress Allison Janney chose to go barefoot when leaving the BAFTAs at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018 as her heels were so uncomfortable. But just minutes after taking her shoes off, the I, Tonya star met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. On The Late, Late Show with James Corden, Janney said: “The awful thing is, I did meet Kate and William, and she was in her heels and pregnant, so I felt like a bit of a wimp that I was there in my bare feet. ... I told her that she should take her shoes off, and it was an awkward moment. I called her ‘honey’, and that might’ve not been royal etiquette, probably.”
The Love Actually actress has long known Prince Charles and his two sons. But that doesn’t mean she was allowed to break protocol at the Investitures ceremony when she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2018. As reported by AP, when Prince William pinned her badge in an awkward spot, Thompson was startled and she said: “I made a very loud and inappropriate noise inside Buckingham Palace.” But the actress said they both laughed at the situation: “I love Prince William, I’ve known him since he was little, and we just sniggered at each other.” Later, she jokingly asked the queen’s grandson: “I can’t kiss you, can I?” To which the prince simply replied, “No, don’t”. At least it’s clear.
Shawn Mendes accidentally met Queen Elizabeth backstage at her 92nd birthday celebration. Before going on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, the singer found himself alone in a room with the regent, but could not speak to her since royal protocol says you have to wait for the queen to speak to you first. Unfortunately for Mendes, 10 minutes passed without the monarch saying a single word. He said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: “So, it was like this 10 minutes of very awkward silence between me and the queen. She didn’t look at me at all. I looked over a couple of times and I was like, ‘I probably shouldn’t even be looking’. It was super weird.”
Simon Pegg had an awkward encounter when he met the queen at the royal premiere of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010. The monarch did not immediately speak to him and stared at him for about thirty seconds without moving before speaking. On The Graham Norton Show, Pegg said: “She came up to me and she went ... (pauses). I was just waiting for her to speak and I swear it was like 30 seconds, I started to bead sweat and eventually she said ‘and what do you do?’ I almost hugged her because I thought ‘thank goodness you’re still with us’.”
At a concert by the band All Saints in the 90s, the X-Files actor had to explain to Prince Charles, who was sitting next to him, what “booty call” meant. On The Late, Late Show with James Corden, Duchovny said: “And he said, ‘Booty call …’ I said, ‘Well, I can explain it to you, it’s a little off-colour, but I can do it’. And he said, ‘Yes, please’”. Duchovny then said: “Well, it’s when a man or a woman calls a man or a woman to come to their home late at night for the express purpose of getting together and then leaving right afterwards.” The Prince then apparently just replied with: “Oh”.
At model Suki Waterhouse’s housewarming party, Margot Robbie told a red-haired man he looked just like Ed Sheeran. The Bombshell star realised later that night that the redhead in question was none other than Prince Harry! She said on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2016: “Actually, when I saw him in those glasses, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know Ed Sheeran was at the party’. And he was really offended. He was like, ‘Shut up!’”
At a royal gala performance celebrating the Prince’s Trust Charity in May 1997, the Spice Girls
came face-to-face with Prince Charles and broke royal protocol numerous times, including kissing him on the cheek and giving him a “pat” on his behind. However, far from being shocked, Charles seemed more than happy to partake in the fun. BBC reported that when reminiscing with Nelson Mandela about meeting the group again, later that year in Johannesburg, South Africa, he said: “It is the second greatest moment in my life. The greatest was the first time that I met them.”