A-Z of British Etiquette
The loyal toast is the most important toast in many countries. This is always to the country’s Head of State. For example, in the UK, it is to the Monarch. In the US, it is to the President. If it is to be said as part of a series of toasts, it must come first.
In the UK, the wording is usually “the Queen” (sometimes “Her Majesty the Queen”). At state occasions, watch out for musicians, who are likely to strike up the national anthem (here’s looking at you, President Obama). Glasses should remain on the table until the music has stopped, then can they be raised.
In Britain, there is occasionally a second loyal toast, which is limited to ‘The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family”. That said, this is becoming rarer and rarer.
During the May 2011 state visit, President Obama made a rather ham-fisted, even toe-curling, attempt at a loyal toast, which he put at the end of his speech. He made the unforgivable faux pas of confusing a toast with a speech, and for reasons not known to anyone decided to carry on speaking after the words ‘Her Majesty the Queen’ – talking all over the British national anthem, leaving some very awkward glances from all the other guests who knew better.