Dignitaries shun handshakes at Commonwealth Service

Boris Johnson was told not to shake hands with dignitaries including the Queen over coronavirus fears and said the move sent a "subliminal cue" about the importance of hygiene.

Guests at the Commonwealth Service – the last appearance by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as senior royals – adopted a range of greetings to get around the handshake ban.

37 PHOTOS
Royals attend the Commonwealth Service
See Gallery
Royals attend the Commonwealth Service
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the Prince of Wales during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Queen Elizabeth II attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Sophie Countess of Wessex attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Queen Elizabeth II attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Charles of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Boris Johnson attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Charles of Wales attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds leaving after the Commonwealth Day Service, Westminster Abbey, London. Picture credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Harry attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by DPPA/Sipa USA)
The Duchess of Sussex pictured at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life. Picture date: Monday March 9, 2020. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/Empics
The Duke of Sussex (smiles) towards the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (left) as he sits with his wife and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (top right) sit with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Queen Elizabeth II alongside the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex leaving after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duke of Sussex at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds speak with heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duchess of Sussex speaks with heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and partner Carrie Symonds leaving after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Home Secretary Priti Patel leaving after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duchess of Sussex leaving after the Commonwealth Day Service, Westminster Abbey, London. Picture credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (right) sit with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
(left to right) Queen Elizabeth II, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, sit together during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duchess of Sussex speaks to school children as she leaves after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Duchess of Cambridge speaks to school children as she leaves after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Queen Elizabeth II leaving after attending the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London, on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duchess of Sussex leaving after attending the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hold hands as they leave Westminster Abbey, London, following the Commonwealth Service on Commonwealth Day.
Queen Elizabeth II leaving after attending the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London, on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Alexandra Burke performs during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey, London on Commonwealth Day. The service is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's final official engagement before they quit royal life.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The Prince of Wales opted for a namaste as he was introduced to guests at Westminster Abbey, while Harry bumped elbows with musician Craig David and Meghan decided to hug the 7 Days singer.

The Queen and other senior royals were following the protocol the Abbey has been operating under during the past few weeks.

Commonwealth Day 2020
Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds speak to heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua at the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey (Ben Stansall/PA)

Mr Johnson was pictured at the event clasping hands with heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua despite the advice.

The Prime Minister said: "We were all given an instruction not to shake hands and there's a good reason for not shaking hands, which is that the behavioural psychologists say that if you don't shake somebody's hand then that sends an important message to them about the importance of washing your hands.

"So there's a subliminal cue there to everybody to wash your hands, which is, I think I'm right in saying... far more important."

Handshaking was "a matter for individual choice" but was much less important than washing, he added.

Commonwealth Day 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Commonwealth Service (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Johnson, who attended the event with his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, has previously said he was "shaking hands with everybody" despite the concerns about the spread of the virus.

When the Duke of Cambridge arrived at the service he joked with Lord Howell, chairman of the council of Commonwealth Societies, about the protocol to avoid spreading germs.

"It's very odd not shaking hands, I try my best to hold my hands like that," William said laughing as he clasped them together and held them against his waist.

And when he chatted to Joshua, who is 6ft 6ins tall, the royal avoided shaking hands and quipped: "I feel you'd crush mine."

A spokeswoman for the Abbey said: "Westminster Abbey is acutely aware of the risks posed by the spread of novel coronavirus.

"In recent weeks we have advised members of our congregations to avoid shaking hands."

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS