A Look Back At Susan Sarandon's Unconventional Meeting With Queen Elizabeth

Even if you don't consider yourself a royal watcher, you probably know that there are certain dos and don'ts when in the presence of royalty. Unfortunately, many of us might not be as well-read with the royal rules as those who regularly interact with the family. For example, there are several celebrity faux pas that made past headlines, such as when LeBron James put his arm around Kate Middleton or, similarly, when Tom Cruise attempted to hold Kate Middleton's hand as she ascended the stairs, breaking royal protocol. While there may not be real consequences for overstepping in the royal family's presence, people definitely take notice.

Just ask Susan Sarandon. The "Thelma & Louise" star had an unconventional meeting with the late Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Windsor Cup in 2018. The Academy Award-winning actress definitely bypassed one royal rule and may have broken another when she greeted the queen simply by walking up to her without waiting to be officially beckoned forward and formally introduced. 

Susan Sarandon tossed formality aside

Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philp, were in attendance at the Royal Windsor Cup polo match in 2018, seated on the sidelines to watch the action. One of the top horse events in the world, it regularly attracts the who's-who in both Britain and beyond, including celebrities like Susan Sarandon, whose son was invited to DJ the event afterward. 

Traditional protocol says that you should wait to be introduced to the monarch (aka, she has to deem you worthy of her time), but Saradon just decided to go for it, marching up and saying "hello!" Furthermore, we're pretty sure we didn't see a small curtsy before the actor reached out and politely shook the queen's hand. Whether Sarandon meant to buck tradition or was unaware of the proper etiquette, Her Majesty didn't seem to mind. The pair were seen exchanging pleasant smiles while Prince Philip looked on. Some say he was unimpressed with the American actor's forwardness, while others claim he may not have recognized her.

Sarandon has been to the UK before, but this was her first known encounter with the royal family. Therefore, we're not surprised that she wasn't in the know about the rules of greeting a royal family member, which says women should give a slight curtsy. The palace is clear that the public won't be held to these formalities, as the rules are not obligatory, but for those who wish to "observe traditional forms," their guidelines are a must.

We may need to cut Susan Sarandon some slack

Walking up to Queen Elizabeth sans invitation is a bold move, and the public was quick to criticize Susan Sarandon's meeting with the monarch at the polo match. But poor Sarandon may have simply received some bad intel along with being a bit overcome by Her Majesty's royalness.

In the documentary, "Portrait of the Queen," Sarandon stated, "'[When] I got to England and my friends were like, 'do not bow, whatever you do, don't bow, that is so passe,' they said to me 'don't bow. Do not bow' and I thought, 'well, I'm going to be respectful.'" But then the queen's attendants reportedly told Sarandon, "Don't ask her any questions. [If] she talks to you, it's okay but don't ask her anything. And this is what you have to do, you know, bow when she comes,'" leaving the actor quite conflicted.

However, when Sarandon found Queen Elizabeth seated, she was pretty relieved, thinking that she would have to bend over anyway to shake Her Majesty's hand, so maybe it would appear like she was bowing. That is until she later saw the headlines about breaking royal protocol. Sarandon admitted, "I still don't know what I did wrong." In the end, the media scrutinized everything from Sarandon initiating a handshake to her failing to bow. But the actor is just happy to have plenty of photographic evidence of the meeting, gushing, "She was lovely to me."