Last night, I had the funniest dream. Now, I should preface this by saying that I suffer from lucid dreaming. I am able to control my actions and the actions of the situation. This only adds to how funny my dreams are.
This dream was particularly entertaining. I was at my best friend’s house for a fancy Sunday brunch, and who should join us at the table but the Duchess of Cornwall and Queen Elizabeth. I was absolutely frozen, racking my brain for the proper etiquette in this situation. All I could remember was “ma’am as in ham” and something about never touching the Queen. While this menial information barely helped me with Elizabeth, it was 100% useless for Camilla.
So this morning I practically raced, latte in hand, to the Debrett’s website. Debrett’s is the English guide to proper etiquette, much like America’s Emily Post. Pick up a copy of both books for reference (Emily Post’s Etiquette and Debrett’s New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners).
In regards to how to address the Queen, Debrett’s has the following advice:
- Upon being introduced to The Queen, and on leaving, a bow or curtsy is made.
- The bow is an inclination of the head, not from the waist.
- The curtsy should be a discreet but dignified bob.
- In conversation, address The Queen as ‘Your Majesty’, and subsequently ‘Ma’am’ (to rhyme with Pam).
- When conversing with The Queen, substitute ‘Your Majesty’ for ‘you’.
- When introducing another person to The Queen, simply state the name of the person to be introduced: ‘May I present Mr John Smith, Your Majesty?
Now, I’m not entirely sure how I would have bowed at the dining room table while already sitting, but I’m also sure Her Majesty won’t be popping in to my friend’s brunch anytime soon.
As for the Duchess of Cornwall, Debrett’s provides the following advice on addressing other members of the Royal Family:
- On introduction and on leaving a bow or curtsy is made (see Addressing The Queen). Men should bow from the head only, and women should make a small curtsy. Neither movement should be prolonged or exaggerated. It is acceptable but less usual to shake hands.
- Younger members of the royal family may not expect or want the deference paid to earlier generations. If you are expecting to be introduced to Prince Harry, or Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, for example, it might be helpful to speak to their private secretary or equerry for guidance.
- Anyone bearing the style and title of His or Her Royal Highness should be addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness’ for the first time, and subsequently ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ (to rhyme with Pam).
For those of us less in the know (including apparently me), the members of the British Royal Family who bear the style and title “His/Her Royal Highness” are: The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Alexandra, and finally, the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
But, let’s be real, my biggest concern during this dream was my ensemble. (In the dream, I was wearing blue jeans and a cable knit sweater. Humiliating!) According to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in their engagement interview, Kate first met the Queen at Peter Phillips’ wedding to Autumn Kelly in 2008. You can read more about that here.
Now, even though it was 2008, this outfit seems all wrong to me. A Kate Middleton miss (one of the very few). The black seems too morbid, the sheer neckline is too risque and the veil on the pillbox hat makes me think of a funeral veil.
When meeting the Queen (or the Duchess of Cornwall) in an official capacity, I would stick to something very sweet and classic. Conservative neckline, conservative shoes, and a not-too-wild hat or fascinator would be perfect.
My dream ensemble for meeting the Queen: