Etiquette – United Kingdom Part I

Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

British Etiquette and manners could be a minefield, especially years ago.

Our friends across the pond have relaxed now, but there are still some critical business and manners to bear in mind to keep yourself in good graces because you never know if you will someday meet with the queen!

Photo credit: Danna Travel


In the UK, people have a tendency to over-apologize. You can tell them you are having a rough Monday, and they will respond, “I am sorry you are not feeling well.” 

British people cannot resist the urge to apologize, for example, if someone accidentally bumps into you, it would be typical for you to apologize and say “I’m sorry” as though you are sorry for being in their way. Let’s say you have a reserved seat, but someone is sat in your chair a kind British person will say, “I am sorry, but you appear to be sat in my seat.” Of course, the person to blame would apologize as well, but apologizing as the victim is a very English thing to do.

If you do find yourself giving out an apology, make sure it’s genuine. A half-hearted apology will not go down well.


Photo credit: Python Central

In the UK, wherever there is a mass of people, you will find an orderly queue. British etiquette dictates that when you arrive, you join the back of the line so that each person receives the service in the order that they arrived. A standard British trait is that despite everybody in the queue being annoyed with someone who has pushed in, very few people will ask that person to go to the back of the line. This would never happen in New York. British people do not like to cause a scene by arguing, but likewise, they let you know they are annoyed in subtle ways like a roll of the eyes or shaking their heads. They may also complain to the person next to them in the queue.


Please, and thank you, is considered polite, well-mannered, and is the regularity of British speech. When British people are in a shop, restaurant, or anywhere they are receiving customer service, they say thank you to the person serving, the person giving them change, or the person receiving a bill at a restaurant.

Remembering to say please and thank you is very important, if you are not doing it you may be told to ‘mind your p’s and q’s ‘or, more specifically, to say both ‘please’ (‘p’s) and ‘thank you’ (‘thank q’s).


Photo credit: Ohhcouture

Britain isn’t a particularly tactile country. Because of this, some cultures perceive British people as being wholly unemotional while others see them as having a ‘stiff upper lip.’ This refers to the fact that British people do have emotions, they’re just very good at hiding them. When a person’s upper lip begins to tremble, it is one of the first signs that the person has experienced deep emotion. The ‘stiff upper lip’ is an idiom to their ability to conceal their feelings and keep a straight face.

While you may be hugged and kissed 2 or 3 times by a total stranger in some European countries, it’s unlikely that you would receive the same reception in the UK. Social kissing is becoming popular in Britain, but it is by no means an accepted norm. For example, it is rare for men to kiss their male friends in the UK- this is usually a gesture reserved for women. Kissing is not appropriate in many professional situations. If you are unsure, stick to a handshake.

Holding hands as friends in the UK is quite unusual. Instead, more common for female friends is to link arms. For male friends, there is usually no contact. Holding hands is generally reserved only for parent-children relationships, or between partners (e.g., girlfriend & boyfriend, husband & wife).

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s part II.

Sending warm tea vibes! 💋

Feature photo credit: Instagram BPpGbd6Acec


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