- Commoners aren't supposed to touch royals unless royals initiate contact.
- Celebrities like Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Allison Janney, and Ed Sheeran have slipped up.
- It's OK, though. Royals are forgiving and usually enjoy the change of pace.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
While it may be OK to give your favorite actor a hug and pose for a quick selfie if you run into them on the street, greeting a royal comes with many traditional rules as well as heightened security concerns.
Here are six times that celebrities slipped up and broke royal protocol.
President Joe Biden left his sunglasses on while meeting Queen Elizabeth
The Queen welcomed the Bidens to Windsor Castle on Sunday. Biden kept his sunglasses on throughout the beginning of the visit, only taking them off halfway through the playing of the national anthem during a ceremony at the castle's quadrangle.
The royal family website does not specifically state that sunglasses cannot be worn during a meeting with the Queen, but a former palace employee told Newsweek that the glasses break tradition.
"If you're meeting the Queen face-to-face, there's no sunglasses or anything like that at all because eye contact is quite important with any introduction," Grant Harrold, who served as a royal butler to Prince Charles, told Newsweek.
The White House and Buckingham Palace did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Biden may have also broken an unspoken royal rule by revealing what he and the Queen spoke about, but she may have approved it to make a political point.
President Donald appeared to break royal protocol several times during his visits to the UK
Bowing or curtsying isn't necessary when greeting a royal, but the royal family's official website says that "many people wish to observe the traditional forms." Trump broke from tradition by opting for a handshake instead of a bow when he visited the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2018.
In 2019, Queen Elizabeth hosted the president and first lady at a state banquet in Buckingham Palace on Trump's second visit to the UK.
About 14 and a half minutes into a USA Today livestream of the event, it looked like Trump lightly touched the Queen's back as she rose from her seat, which would have been a breach of royal protocol. Royal protocol dictates that one must not touch the Queen unless she offers her hand first.
The Trump White House did not respond to a request for comment from Insider on the matter.
Michelle Obama put her arm around Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace
Michelle Obama wrote in her memoir, "Becoming," that when she met Queen Elizabeth in 2009, they bonded over both wearing uncomfortable high heels.
"Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I'd flown to London on a presidential jet; we were two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes," she wrote. "I then did what's instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder."
She didn't realize until later that she had committed "what would be deemed as an epic faux pas," as one isn't supposed to touch the Queen.
"If I hadn't done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing," she wrote. "I daresay the Queen was okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back."
Allison Janney called Kate Middleton 'honey' when they met at the BAFTA awards in 2018
Janney told The Late Late Show host James Corden that she took off her heels and ran into the Duchess of Cambridge while barefoot.
"I just told her that I was in bare feet and I felt – I told her she should take her shoes off 'cause she's pregnant. It was an awkward moment," she said. "As I did, I called her 'honey' and that might not have been royal etiquette."
Still, Janney said that she was "lovely" and that the royal couple loved her movie "I, Tonya."
LeBron James put his arm around Kate Middleton when they met in 2014
James broke the cardinal royal rule: Don't touch them.
While Middleton didn't return the gesture, a small infraction like this can be a breath of fresh air for royals, according to royal expert Victoria Arbiter.
"Sometimes, the royal family quite like it when things go wrong because it adds a bit of humor and it gives them something to enjoy and talk about," she previously told Insider.
Ed Sheeran touched Prince Charles' arm instead of just shaking his hand in 2017
A photo shows the moment as Prince Charles presented Sheeran with his MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).
For what it's worth, Prince Charles didn't seem to be bothered by it. Sheeran said they had a pleasant exchange.
"He was asking me if I was still selling lots of records and I told him I've got a concert in New York tomorrow, and he was quite surprised I was flying after this," he said.