Is there a known style guide or documented set of stylistic rules for the English language that Queen Elizabeth II and/or her office uses in emitted correspondence? Is there any way to know how QE2 would write something without digging through old correspondence for similar uses?

  • 3
    Most things that are used and honoured collectively in Britain are said to be the Queen's. We have HM Armed Forces, HM Government, even HM Loyal Opposition (in Parliament). The calm on the streets is said to be 'The Queen's Peace'. If you break that peace you can be sent to HM Prison, and before the days of integral sanitation, you were issued with a chamber pot bearing the letters HM PRISON SERVICE. So not surprisingly, the standard elegant form of the language, used in educated circles I choose to name the 'Queen's English'. And that is what the Queen speaks.
    – WS2
    Jan 5, 2014 at 22:50
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    I wonder why this was downvoted—it’s quite an interesting question. Would official letters from the Queen, for example, use the Oxford comma? Spell -ize or -ise? Use en or em dashes (close-set or spaced off)? Surprising as it may seem, I have never received a missive from the Queen, so I cannot answer these questions from firsthand knowledge. Jan 6, 2014 at 1:02
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Bearing in mind that she is 87 years old and has been on the throne for 62 years, I too would be a little bit surprised if she does not have help with her voluminous correspondence. As she pointed out at a dinner party at Buck House, attended by the then-current and two former American Presidents 'my job is not something you do simply for two four-year terms'.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2014 at 12:06
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    @WS2, obviously not honor, that's confined to AmE; but -ize is almost as common in BrE as -ise, and several style guides (most prominently Oxford’s) require it. Jan 6, 2014 at 12:22
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    @JanusBahsJacquet By the way am I meant to be impressed by your citing Oxford? Cambridge is where it all happens.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2014 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


Queen Elizabeth II's government — The Prime Minister and the cabinet — write her official speeches. As explained here: Queen's speech

Nor is she the author of her official correspondence, according to the official British Monarchy website. (Source)

The office of the Private Secretary, supports the Queen in her job as Head of State. The current Private Secretary to The Queen is The Rt. Hon. Sir Christopher Geidt KCVO OBE who was appointed to his role in September 2007.

The Private Secretary is the channel of communication between the Head of State and the Government, not only in the United Kingdom but also in the 15 other realms of which The Queen is Sovereign.


Other responsibilities include organising The Queen’s official programme at home and overseas; liaising with the Households of other members of the Royal Family; and dealing with The Queen’s official correspondence and correspondence with members of the public.

The Private Secretary prepares The Queen’s speeches and messages, and his/her office arranges photographs and official presents, portraits and messages of congratulation.

An exception to the rule is the Queen's Christmas speech which the BBC claims:

The Queen writes her own Christmas speeches and it is one of the rare occasions when she does not seek government advice and is able to voice her own views.

The Guardian confirms that the 2012 Christmas speech was by her own hand.

This year, her message, which she writes herself, will highlight the "splendid summer of sport", and pay tribute to the nation's Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who gave spectators the chance to revel in the "excitement and drama".

Therefore, in order to know which style guide (if any) is employed, one would need to ask David Cameron, all the ministers of the British cabinet and finally, the Queen's private secretary Sir Christopher Geidt themselves.

If it is of any help, the 47-year-old Prime Minister, David Cameron, attended Eton College before studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford university, so presumably he is well-versed in the Queen's English.

  • Is she is neither the author grammatical in British English?
    – virmaior
    Jan 6, 2014 at 9:48
  • Yes, it is (I'm pretty certain, but why not ask the question on ELU?!) perhaps it should be recast.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 6, 2014 at 9:53
  • @virmaior my edit should make more sense now. Thank you for pointing it out.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 6, 2014 at 10:02
  • @Mari-LouA But when Cameron appeared on the David Letterman chat-show in America, oddly his Latin seemed to desert him. I should think the Classics master at Eton was having fits when DC couldn't translate 'Magna Carta' into English.
    – WS2
    Jan 6, 2014 at 20:39
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    @WS2 Lucky for the Queen that her speeches are in English, although I seem to recall one famous annus horribilis discourse.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 6, 2014 at 21:43

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