British people what is the social reason of men placing their hands behind their back as a show of deference, eg, when meeting a Royal, ?
attending a war reunion, or going on a guided tour of a National Trust property
Why behind their back?
Please no Yanks
- 1 month ago
It is a show of respect
- 1 month ago
It is just a matter of etiquette. Royal family members and those meeting them or in their presence are not allowed to slouch or cross their arms (deemed poor manners), body language and good posture and manners are held in high regard. It is about appearing respectful (both respect and pride in yourself and towards the people you are with). If you imagine someone walking with arms swinging by their side and someone walking with their hands clasped behind their back you can realise the difference it makes to their posture and stance and the image they project to others. Hands clasped in front is also acceptable however this is a more feminine stance hence why the men usually clasp hands behind their back.
There is no real reason for it other than it just looks 'neater' and more formal if you understand what I mean. Sometimes when people are standing still and their hands are by their sides they can subconsciously and unintentionally lean a little to one side. By clasping hands behind your back (or in the case of women, in front) it evens up your shoulders and makes you appear to stand straighter (try it in the mirror).
I suppose the only other thing I can think of relates to people meeting royalty, it is inappropriate to touch members of the royal family unless they extend a hand to greet you. Clasping hands (either in front or behind) when waiting to greet a member of the royal family shows restraint with your hands. There was a lot of talk about Trump breaking royal protocol as he had his hands by his side and then lifted a hand up behind the queen at a dinner and appeared to lightly touch her on the back... a big no, no. I say appeared as I don't know if it was confirmed he did touch her or he was just raising his arm behind her in that 'after you' signal.
Anyway, hope that answers your question.