As with most other countries in the world, the United Kingdom does hold some specific customs and rules of etiquette that it holds very dear. Although time and contemporary life may have managed to dilute these traditions to a certain extent, they are, nevertheless, still very present in British society and tourists would always fair much better to learn them in advance.
Any British person, of any class, never likes a person to approach them abruptly without excusing themselves first. It is always the height of bad manners to open any conversation without saying “excuse me, please”. This is especially the case when you are seeking advice or assistance in a service environment. Never just blurt out commands and questions and always add thank you and please often. In the UK, people are still very much judged upon their manners (or rather the lack of them) and this is completely expected from tourists to the country as well.
This is without doubt the one issue that raises the heckles of any British person more than any other: when in the UK, it is essential that you make note of any people who have been waiting for something before you. Never, ever push in by batting your eye lashes. In certain situations this may not only be frowned upon, it could literally lead to a full-on confrontation. Always queue for services and respect the people that are in front of you. Even when waiting for a bus, bear in mind who was there before you and allow them entrance first.
The people of the United Kingdom are not known for their generosity with tipping. Unlike the continental Europeans and Americans, British people fervently believe that the service provider must earn their tip; they never just volunteer it anyway. There are only two services whereby you should contemplate a tip: restaurants and taxis. It is unusual even to tip a member of bar staff. If you want to be truly British about this, judge the level of service that you have received and tip the person up to a maximum of 10 - 15%. If the service has been terrible - do not feel bad about withholding a tip - it will definitely serve them right and hopefully they will revise their attitude.
Being too Loud
When in cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums and many other public areas, do not be too brash and loud. This is something that is never appreciated. British people always prefer to enjoy things quietly and whilst exercising consideration towards others around them. This would even extend to being too loud on public transport. A British person could even construe this type of behaviour to be threatening as they are just so unused to it.
Respect to the infirm and pregnant ladies
When on public transport you should always volunteer your seat to a person that is elderly, disabled or pregnant. In fact, in many circumstances this is the law. Nowadays, it is considered old fashioned to give up your seat to a female that is not actually struggling due to age.
Elevenses and tea
You will soon realise how popular the beverage of tea is in the United Kingdom. This is the case across all four countries. Indeed, there was even an additional mid-morning break brought in (elevenses) that would provide a fix of this liquid and possibly a cake or two.
The overall values of the people of the UK are not too dissimilar to what you are already accustomed to. British people are some of the hardest workers in the world, especially compared to the rest of Europe and this is reflected through the average number of hours worked and the fact that there are a mere 8 bank holidays across the entire year. With this in mind, Brits do like to let their hair down in their spare time.
The family unit is not held in anything like as much esteem as it was even 30 years ago. Meals are rarely taken together, however, the tradition of a Sunday roast is very much the norm and most families will come together for this particular meal each week.