Hosting a Royal visit

Guidance and advice to help your visit go smoothly

It is usual for the Lieutenancy Officer to visit and discuss protocol and give guidance to help you produce a draft programme.

Once the date of the visit has been confirmed, you should submit a detailed draft programme to the Lieutenancy Office. This programme should be a step-by-step guide to what HRH will be seeing, doing and who they will be meeting during the visit, and ideally timings broken up into 5 or 10 minute slots. An example programme can be provided to assist you.

Local Civic Dignitaries will usually be invited to the visit and the Lieutenancy Office will advise you on who these will be. Civics are presented to HRH on arrival and then they stay for the duration of the visit as your guests. They do not accompany the Royal party but need to be looked after separately by your organisation.

The following must be included in the programme:

  • Name of who will be escorting HRH throughout the visit, and full job title.
  • Names of key people HRH will meet in full, including full job titles.
  • Any particular request, ie unveiling a plaque, signing visitors’ book, receiving a posy, presenting prizes, speaking etc. should be applied for straight away. This has to be approved by the Royal Household. Once the programme is approved it is not possible to go back with any further requests.
  • The draft wording for a plaque should be sent to the Lieutenancy Office for approval by the Royal Household. The wording must be approved prior to commissioning.
  • Details of how many guests HRH will meet in each room/area. A Royal can generally meet approximately 100 people per hour, ideally in groups of 10 with a leader for each of the groups.
  • It is wise to factor in 'opportunity to retire' either at the beginning or the end of the visit. A suitable toilet should be identified, away from the gaze of the visitors, which HRH can use if necessary.

This involves a member of the Lieutenancy Team, Hampshire Police, a Personal Protection Officer (PPO) and a member of the Programme Team from HRH Office to go through the draft programme, discuss the format of the visit and make recommendations.

Following the recce, you can then update your programme and this detailed programme needs to be submitted to the Royal Household via the Lieutenancy Office, for final approval.

Briefing pack

Prior to the visit you will need to submit a briefing pack to the Lieutenancy Office, which should include:

  • a general background brief on the organisation and the purpose of the visit. Mention if HRH has visited before.
  • if a short speech has been requested, short speech bullet points. Speeches are only given in support of a charity or if there is a clear message to deliver. When submitting speech notes, include who has written these together with their job title.
  • short, one paragraph biographies on the key people involved with the visit. Indicate if HRH has met before.
  • seating plans (if applicable).

The Royals do not often stop for refreshments, but you will be advised of any special requirements. Refreshments do help with creating an atmosphere during a visit and is appreciated by all attending.

If a visit spans lunchtime you will be advised on requirements.

Photographs, press and publicity

If you are interested in taking in-house photographs during the visit, this should be raised this with the Royal Household representative at the recce.

If you wish to contact the local press to cover your visit, you can do so, but allocate a member of your staff to control them and decide the best position. Please contact the Royal press office switchboard on 020 7930 4832 if you have any queries regarding press releases and media coverage or would like some help with publicising your event.

On the programme, please state the exact dress code for the visit. In general these are as follows: Day Dress/Lounge Suit, Cocktail Dress/Black Tie or Long Dress. Obviously there are exceptions: Uniform, White Tie, Medals for example. When touring a factory, HRH may be asked to wear protective clothing. If there is an event outdoors, please advise on flat shoes or boots.

Please be aware that the visit should be treated as confidential until it appears in the ‘Diary’ section of the Royal Family website.

We understand how difficult it is to keep a visit confidential especially when sending out invitations. You could initially ask your guests to make a note of the date and venue, stating that further details will follow in due course. You will be asked at the recce how you plan to ensure that you know that all those present on the day have been invited and are therefore known to you.


There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting HM The Queen or a member of the Royal Family, but many people wish to observe the traditional forms. For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way.

On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am' (to rhyme with jam).

For male members of the Royal Family the same rules apply, with the title used in the first instance being 'Your Royal Highness' and subsequently 'Sir'.

For other female members of the Royal Family the first address is conventionally 'Your Royal Highness' followed by 'Ma'am' in later conversation.

The correct form of address for the Lord-Lieutenant is:

  • Written: Nigel Atkinson Esq, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire
  • Salutation: Dear Lord-Lieutenant,
  • In a speech preamble: Lord-Lieutenant.
  • Conversation: Initially Lord-Lieutenant, thereafter Mr Atkinson or Sir