With a certain royal wedding less than four days away (congratulations William and Kate!), a huge interest in British etiquette has been ignited. We all know that good manners equate to common sense, and it really isn’t a big a deal when going about your everyday business. But what do you do when you have an audience with the Queen, are expecting to be scrutinized by hundreds of discerning royals, and have to do it all in full view of a voracious 2 billion strong public, who are expected to tune in to the wedding broadcast? Spare a thought for Kate Middleton, who will have all this to contend with and therefore may be forgiven for suffering a touch of pre-wedding nerves this Friday.
There’s a ton to take into consideration when you’re something of a mover and shaker. Here’s my list of things to bear in mind when conducting yourself in and out of royal circles (you never know, you may just bag a hot Prince too!). If you also have a penchant of perfect etiquette, then read on…
Meeting and Greeting:
If you ever get to meet the Queen or a member of the royal family (Her Majesty gets about a fair bit so you may bump into her during her many walkabouts at Windsor), address her as ‘Your Majesty’ then ‘Ma’am.’ Never show the Queen your back, wait for her to leave the room before doing so yourself, and if you have gloves on, remove them. Never touch the royals and only extend your hand for a handshake to reciprocate theirs. Although the rules of curtsying are relaxed in today’s age (it is no longer imperative), it is seen as a sign of respect. Only British citizens, should they wish, may bow or curtsy. As I’m a keen traditionalist, I love the pomp and ceremony, and personally think it’s a quaint gesture. The correct way, should you be so inclined, would be to place your right foot behind your left foot, lightly bend both knees, then stand back upright to uncross your legs.
Generally speaking, we Brits are a more conservative bunch than our US cousins. The infamous stiff upper lip isn’t just proverbial – it really does exist. Our exuberance is muted in gatherings where we don’t know the host, or fellow guests, where we address others more formally until the alcohol starts flowing (joke … sort of). Of course we’re different with friends and family, where hugs galore are as welcome as giant cupcakes with lashings of luscious frosting! The knack is to strike a decent balance so as not to appear uncouth. Personal space is fiercely guarded, so tapping on someone’s shoulder or arm to get their attention is considered rude. Even on the underground, commuters tightly packed as a can of sardines have boundaries. The number of times I have been on the receiving end of the dismissive eyeroll whilst crammed into a teeny tiny corner of the tube carriage have been too numerous to mention. Note to fellow commuters – I don’t enjoy being in your face during my travel to work (unless you look like Jude Law).