Garden Party Buckingham PalaceHer Majesty’s Household

If you have been invited to a Royal event and are concerned about etiquette, dress code or indeed any aspect of your visit, the Royal Household is not only a wealth of information but will be more than happy to help in terms of answering any queries you may have or offer you advice as to etiquette and best practice.  However, it is essential that you communicate with the correct Royal Household, since each member of the royal family has their own.  Hence do not call Buckingham Palace’s Information Office with questions regarding dress code, if you have been invited by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to a reception at Clarence House in London. Any queries should be addressed to their Private Secretary who will be able to advise whether you should wear a dinner jacket or lounge suit.


Individual royal households vary in size

The individual royal households vary in terms of how many members of staff there are. For example; there would possibly be only 3 or 4 in the household of a minor royal.  If you have received an invitation from any of the royal households, do not bother the Queen’s Household with queries. Instead, direct them to the appropriate person in the royal household from whence the invitation came. So as not to waste time, it is good form to prepare your queries in advance of making a call to the relevant royal household.

Part of royal etiquette is to include the dress code with the invitation (it will usually be printed on the invitation) and follows the following format:

Morning dress for gentlemen

  • Black or grey morning coat
  • Grey striped trousers
  • Yellow or grey waistcoat
  • Top hat
  • Gloves to match the colour of the waistcoat (which should be carried)

Morning dress for ladies

  • Suit or smart day dress
  • High heels
  • Hat
  • Gloves (which should be worn)
  • Handbag

For most daytime occasions a plain business or lounge suit is acceptable for gentlemen; and for ladies smart day dress.

Black Tie


  • Dinner jacket
  • Black bow tie


Cocktail or evening dress – Ladies please note that at royal events the little black dress that we all keep in our wardrobes is not suitable since black is only worn when the Court is in mourning.

White Tie

The most formal and glamorous of all dress codes, White Tie is where you can dress in your finest clothes:

White Tie for Gentlemen

  • Evening tail coat
  • White bow tie
  • White waistcoat

White Tie for Ladies

  • Long evening dress
  • Long gloves
  • Best jewellery
  • Tiara

Medals, decorations and orders are worn by those who have acquired them but not the collar of an order which should never be worn after sunset.

Finally, ladies do not call the Queen’s Household prior to the event to enquire what the Queen is wearing.  It may seem practical so that you can ensure your dress won’t clash with that of Her Majesty, or indeed be the same style or colour, but no one will tell you what the Queen is going to wear prior to any event.

Have a great weekend.