Meghan Markle has a lot of traditions to abide to even before she marries Prince Harry on May 19. One of the more obscure, yet perhaps most traditional British activity Markle has recently had to master is drinking tea.
And when the Queen is the one you’re trying to most impress, you best follow tea-time etiquette to the letter. And thanks to Food & Wine‘s meticulous research on the subject, anyone can be royalty when it comes to tea protocol.
News of Markle’s tea time rehearsal comes courtesy of a new biography, Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, by Andrew Morton (who’s also written biographies on Princess Diana, Tom Cruise and Madonna).
In addition to learning how to crook her finger when holding a tea cup, Morton reveals several other rules that had to be memorized before having tea with the Queen, such as:
- You should never add the milk to your cup before pouring the tea. Always add milk after.
- If you need to stir the milk in the cup, you should use a back and forth motion, rather than a circular motion, so that the spoon doesn’t clink against the sides of the cup, according to British etiquette expert Jo Bryant.
- Bryant also advises that you should not blow on the tea to cool it down and that you should replace the cup on the saucer between sips.
- As People points out, women should take a sip from the cup at the same place every time, to avoid leaving lipstick marks around the cup.
- Your host may consider it rude if you only stay long enough to enjoy one cup of tea—it’s most polite to drink two cups, but three is excessive, according to etiquette expert The Royal Butler.
Also, despite its stereotype, you do not, in fact, extend your pinkie while drinking from your tea cup.
As Food & Wine points out, during Markle and Harry’s post-engagement interview with the BBC, the couple revealed that the queen’s corgis snuggled on Markle’s feet during tea with the Queen. So, it appears things are going well with her training.