10 British Etiquette and Manners: What is Considered Rude in the UK

Fancy learning about British etiquette? Wondering what is considered rude in the UK? If you are visiting the UK soon or trying to get along with your new British friends, I would like to share some tips and pointers on what we usually deem rude in the UK.

British are known for their politeness, proper manners and the habit of queuing for pretty much everything. They are vital parts of British culture and traditions. Just remember how long the queue was during the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II in London, it went on for miles and miles. Nevertheless, the British public queued up to pay respect to the late British monarch.

Since I migrated here to the UK more than a decade ago, here are some of the British etiquette and manners that I have noticed and adopted to blend in within the British community. Also, mainly it’s just a polite thing to do as a person!

British Etiquette and Manners: List of what is considered rude in the UK

1. Not saying “Please” and “Thank you”

British are known for their politeness. It is important to say “Please” and “Thank You” to anyone you will talk to pretty much anybody in the UK. Make sure to include if your vocabulary while in the UK, or else you will be deemed rude.

If you happen to recently moved here to the UK or just for a visit, using “Please” when ordering food in a restaurant or café is just an example where you need to ensure to practice saying “Please” or “Yes, Please” it won’t cost a penny if you say it to the waiting staff. So, please say it.

In the UK, it is perfectly normal to say “Thank you” to the bus driver or taxi when you get off the ride. This is just one of the polite ways and customs of the British people.

2. Not Queuing

Not queuing or jumping in a queue is a big no-no for the British people. It is deemed utterly disgraceful and rude. British people love to queue, they probably have a queue for everything or when they see a queue, they will probably join in! I would definitely join the queue as well and politely ask where is the end of the queue.

British Etiquette and manners - queuing
British Etiquette and manners – Queuing

One of the perfect examples of this British etiquette was the queue for the late Queen Elizabeth’s public viewing in Westminster, London. The queue went for miles and took them almost 24 hours to get into the public viewing chamber of the Queen. That’s a great dedication of the British public to the late British monarch as well as showing the British custom of queueing.

3. Not Holding the Door Open

When you visit the UK, upon entering any establishment or any door it is customary to hold it open if you have someone next to you.

Not holding the door open for the next person behind you is deemed rude in the UK. British people will probably hold it open for you so you can easily push the door. It is just a polite thing to do in the UK.

4. Not Letting People Out First

Another known British etiquette is letting the people out first of any public transport e.g. train, bus, tram etc. or any establishment that has a narrow door.

Not letting people out first is deemed rude in the UK. British people politely let the people get off or let out first before they get on the ride or enter the establishment.

5. Not Having Proper Table Etiquette

Not having proper table etiquette when eating is frowned upon in the UK. I understand that various culture around the world has certain table etiquette that might be normal for them but not for the British people.

British Etiquette and Manners: Have proper table etiquette
British Etiquette and Manners: Have proper table etiquette

Let me site you some examples of table etiquette that a British person would probably find strange or rude:

  • Not using the cutleries in eating the main meals.
  • Not eating with your mouth closed.
  • Putting your elbows on the table.
  • Eating loudly, slurping food etc.

These are just some examples that British people might find strange or rude when it comes to proper table etiquette.

6. Small Talks etiquette

British people love small talk. Wherever you go around the UK whether, in the city or countryside, British people have a little random chat mainly about the weather and other random chats.

I hope you won’t find this small talk strange when you visit the UK. Small talk etiquette is necessary for this little chatty situation. So just, respond back and smile.

Another small talk in the UK is when a British person greets you and says ” Are you alright?”, this question is not mainly and purposely asking you if you are ok, they are just merely saying “Hello!” or “Hi!”. So don’t take it to heart that you might get a different expression when you start pouring your emotions and heart out.

7. Not Buying the Round of Drinks

Another popular British etiquette is the customary buying of a round of drinks for everyone in your group. British people love to drink in pubs or social clubs, hence it is always a norm to buy your mates a drink when you are going out for a booze night out.

It is a polite thing to say when you are out with your British mates to say “I’ll get the next round”, if you don’t you’ll be seen as a freeloader and it’s frowned upon.

8. Raising the Two Fingers

Raising two fingers in the UK and in front of your British friends is considered very rude. This two-finger hand gesture is the equivalent of “F*** Y*U” or the middle finger.

British etiquette and manners - raising the two fingers
British etiquette and manners – raising the two fingers

This two-finger hand gesture (showing the outer or back part of your hand) is not the same as the peace sign has a different meaning and other cultures deemed ok to use it as a friendly hand gesture. So, if you want to practice good British etiquette or manners, please refrain to use this rude hand gesture.

9. Spitting in public places

For goodness’ sake, avoid spitting in public areas. Spitting in public places is frowned upon, disgusting and rude in the UK. So please never spit in public areas, you can always cover your mouth and catch it with a tissue or excuse yourself to the nearest toilet.

10. Not Bringing Bottle/ Drinks for the Party Host

British people love dinner parties all year round and barbeques every summer, it is a polite British etiquette and party manners to bring a bottle of wine or any beverage as a gift to the host for inviting you.

The host will initially say, you shouldn’t have. However, this is a polite thing to do regardless. So don’t ever forget to bring a bottle of bubbly at your next dinner party.

I hope that enlightens you on various British etiquette and manners. These things I mentioned are not limited and might be some more things that are worth mentioning. So remember to brush up on your politeness and proper manners when visiting the UK or around your British friends. This is to save you the strange looks and side eyes and get branded as rude or outlandish in the UK.

British etiquette and manners what is considered rude in the UK pin
10 British Etiquette and Manners: What is Considered Rude in the UK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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