Saturday, May 19, 2018

Etiquette and a Mixed-Race Queen

Portrait of Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, from the National Galleries of Scotland – King George III and wife Charlotte, England’s mixed-race Queen, had 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. During her first years as Queen, the former German Princess, Charlotte had some difficulty in adapting to the life of the British royal court. A strained relationship with her mother-in-law, Princess Augusta, didn’t help matters. Augusta made it difficult for Charlotte to establish social contacts by insisting on rigid royal court etiquette. She also initially appointed many of Charlotte's staff, and several were suspected of reporting on Charlotte's behavior, to her mother in-law. When Charlotte turned to her German companions for solace, she was criticized for “keeping favorites.” Regarding Queen Charlotte’s partial African ancestry, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson, David Buck, was quoted by the Boston Globe as saying, “It is a matter of history, and frankly, we've got far more important things to talk about.” Indeed!

Royal Courtships Which Lacked Real Romance

The romantic wooing of the King of Spain reminds one how rarely the element of romance has been associated with royal marriages. What could have been more brutally inconsiderate than the arrangements for the marriage of Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III? This Princess, just 17, was selected as consort for the King of England. Her life at Mecklenburg, writes Lady Violet Greville, had hitherto been of the simplest. She dressed “en robe de chambre” every day except Sunday, when she put on her best gown and drove out in a coach and six. The Ambassador sent to demand her hand having arrived, she was told nothing of his mission, merely that she was to dine downstairs that night for the first time. “Mind what you say, ‘et ne faites pas l’enfant’,” was the warning of her eldest brother. After dinner, at which she was naturally very shy, she beheld the saloon illuminated, a table and two cushions prepared for a wedding. Some kind of ceremony then took place; she was embraced by her family, and presented by the Ambassador with a beautiful parure of diamonds, including the little Crown of diamonds which so often appears in her portraits. She was pressed for an immediate departure, but pleaded for the respite of a week, in order to take leave of everybody. During this time she ran about visiting the poor and the little garden of medical herbs, fruit and flowers which she cultivated herself for the benefit of the poor. She afterward introduced the same practice at Kew and Richmond.

The poor little bride suffered a terrible crossing to Harwich, the Royal yacht being nearly driven on the coast of Norway. The Duchesses of Ancaster and Hamilton, sent to conduct the Princess to England, were both much indisposed, but Charlotte herself remained quite well and cheered the company by singing Luther's hymns to her harpischord in her cabin with the door open. Arriving in London at about 3 o'clock, having traveled since 12, she was met by the King in the garden of St. James’ Palace. Attempting to kneel, she was caught by the enthusiastic Monarch, who embraced her kindly and nearly carried her upstairs. That very evening the wedding ceremony took place. Horace Walpole writes of the new Queen: “She looks very sensible, cheerful and is remarkably, genteel” (that favorite epithet of the period). “Her tiara of diamonds was very pretty, her stomacher sumptuous, her violet velvet mantle and ermine so heavy that her clothes were dragged almost down to her waist.” The wedding over and supper not being ready, the Queen sat down and obligingly played and sang to her harpsichord. The royal party never separated till between 3 and 4 in the morning, no slight trial for a bride of 17 who had employed the few moments she passed in her room after her arrival in trying on her wedding gown and the rest of her trousseau. When first she caught sight of the Palace she became very nervous, and, being told that she was to be married that evening, she, in fact, fainted in the carriage. The Duchess of Hamilton, one of the beautiful Miss Gunnings, smiling at her fears, Charlotte said: “You may laugh— you have been married twice — but to me it is no joke.” It is pleasant to think that after being so highly tried, Charlotte's married life proved perfectly happy. 

Very different was the arrival of Catherine of Braganza, who, when first seen by Charles II, was laid up with a cough and a little fever in bed. He was not favorably impressed by his new Consort and remarked as much to his attendants. Elizabeth Farnese, who married the King of Spain, son of Louis XIV of France, as his second wife, celebrated her arrival in Spain by quarreling with, and summarily dismissing the lady in waiting sent to receive her, the famous Princess des Ursins, who had ruled the late Queen, and by whom she herself had been chosen successor. Elizabeth's future life was passed in slavish attendance on her husband that she might secure her influence over him and prevent any state affairs being transacted without her knowledge. Twenty minutes only of the day and night was she permitted to be alone. Elizabeth was an ardent sportswoman and followed the King even at the chase; the rest of her existence was passed in a routine of arduous etiquette and monotony. 

George IV's reception of his bride, Caroline of Brunswick, is well known— how the blue-eyed, bouncing, buxom girl was implored by Lord Malmesbury to be very particular about her talk and her toilet; how the Prince pretended to be overcome at their first meeting and called for a dram of brandy, and how the Princess afterward declared that he was drunk on her wedding night. Not much chance of happiness there! Until quite recently very, little liberty was accorded to Princesses. Queen Charlotte, even after her marriage, was for several years in thraldom to the dowager Princess of Wales and denied all diversion and pleasures. She told Miss Burney that even her jewels had ceased to dazzle and interest her. “Believe me,” she said, “it is the pleasure of a week, a fortnight, at most, and then returns no more.” One of her greatest griefs, and one which caused her bitter tears, was the determination of her mother-in-law that Charlotte should wear her jewels when she received the sacrament for the first time after she became Queen. She had promised her own mother never to do this— it was an act of humility which had been strictly inculcated on her; and it proceeded from the game devotional impulse which caused King George to take off his Crown when he knelt at the altar during the Coronation. 

The courtship of Queen Victoria brings us into a pleasanter atmosphere. On Prince Albert’s first visit to England she liked and appreciated him at once, and his tastes agreed with hers. “Every grace had been showered by nature on this charming boy,” says Baron Stockman of him at this time. The Baron judged him critically, calmly and impartially until he finally became his most attached and devoted friend and adviser. Queen Victoria and her cousin met at first unconscious of the object of their acquaintance, and when the desired impression had been produced, the young Prince, like a second Sir Galahad, was sent away to travel and fit himself by study and careful education for his great position. On his return to England the Queen writes: “Albert's beauty is most striking, and he is most amiable and unaffected — in short, fascinating.” 

The young couple were genuinely in love, and the Queen informed Lord Melbourne that the conquest of her heart was complete. So serious, so dignified, so studious and so excellent a young man would infuse an element of poetry and deep feeling into his love making; but by the rules of etiquette the proposal itself had to come from the young Queen, whose maidenly modesty was somewhat embarrassed at the prospect. She summoned him to her boudoir, where he found her alone. After some desultory talk due to her shyness, she suddenly said: “Could you forsake your country for me?” The Prince answered by clasping her in his arms. In such simple fashion did a young Sovereign, woo and win the husband of her choice. – Los Angeles Herald, 1906

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

White House Etiquette of Precedence

The U.S.’s only foreign-born Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger served (1973-77) under Presidents Nixon and Ford. After 4 influential years as special adviser on national security affairs, when he became Secretary of State, Kissinger pioneered the art of “Shuttle Diplomacy,” traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, in search of peace. Of his wife, Nancy, on their Middle East trip, 1974’s People magazine said, “Throughout the mission she behaved as if her role as tireless, inquisitive, unfailingly courteous tourist could actually help the peace negotiations. She visited the souk or old market in Damascus, chatted with an Israeli soldier wounded in the Yom Kippur War, and conversed in animated, fluent French with a Franciscan archeologist at the site of the Capernaum synagogue on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus began his teachings. As the protracted diplomatic maneuvering neared its close, Nancy Kissinger drew the kind of accolade missing in U.S. diplomacy since the Kennedy years. “More people here,” Premier Golda Meir said in her farewell toast, “now talk about Nancy than Doc.”

More Etiquette of Washington DC Circles
Custom does not require that the wife of the President of the United States should return official calls. Exception is made in the case of visiting Royalty. The wives of the foreign Ambassadors should make the first calls upon the wife of the Vice President, as should the wives of the cabinet officials. At functions given by officials of foreign governments at Washington, the wife of the Secretary of State takes precedence over the wives of the foreign Ambassadors.– Los Angeles Herald, 1898

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Royal vs Papal Etiquette

The Duke and Duchess of Connaught with Princess Patricia and Prince Arthur.

Papal Prince Did Not Meet Duke

Cardinal Farley Had His Own Opinion as to Questions of Etiquette

Special Dispatch to The Call

New York, Jan. 26.—The Duke of Connaught left New York tonight without having met Cardinal Farley, one of the new princes of the Catholic church. The Cardinal was invited to two of the festivities given in the Duke’s honor on his five days’ visit, but declined the invitations. A third invitation was not extended to him when inquiries established the fact that he would not accept.

Questions of etiquette were made the basis of the declinations on the Cardinal’s behalf. The question of etiquette was involved in the custom of submitting to Royalty, the names of all prospective guests.

As an American citizen and as a spiritual prince, it was thought that Cardinal Farley's presence should not be made subject to the approval or disapproval of an English temporal prince. – San Francisco Call, 1912

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Old Japanese Proposal Etiquette

A 19th C. Japanese Bride arrives at the home of the groom’s parents Instead of serenades by moonlight and other delicate ways of making an impression, it is etiquette for the Japanese lover to approach the dwelling of his lady, bearing some choice plant in his hand. This takes place at a time when he is fully assured that both mother and daughter are at home, and I need scarely say that neither of them is at all conscious that the young man is taking such a liberty with the flower pot outside of their window. 

A Graceful Sweethearting Custom

In houses wherein reside one or more daughters of a marriageable age, an empty flower pot of an ornamental character is encircled by a ring and suspended from the window or veranda by three light chains. Now, the Juliets of Japan are, of course, attractive, and their Romeos as anxious as those of other lands. But instead of serenades by moonlight and other delicate ways of making an impression, it is etiquette for the Japanese lover to approach the dwelling of his lady, bearing some choice plant in his hand. This takes place at a time when he is fully assured that both mother and daughter are at home, and I need scarely say that neither of them is at all conscious that the young man is taking such a liberty with the flower pot outside of their window. It is believed that a young lover so engaged, has never been seen by his lady, or her mamma, in this act of sacrilege. 

At any rate, my friend tells me that during his long residence in Japan, he never heard of one being interfered with in any way. The fact is, this act of placing a pretty plant into the empty flower pot is equivalent to a proposal to the young lady who dwells within, and the eastern fashion is, as I think, a delicate and most harmless way of proposing to a lady. The youthful gardener, having settled his plant to his mind retires, and the lady is free to act as she pleases. If he is the right man, she takes every care of his gift, waters it, tends it carefully with her own hands, that all the world can see. In a word, the donor is an accepted suitor. But if he is not a favorite, or the parents object, the poor plant is torn from the vase, and the next morning lies limp and withered on the veranda or on the path below.—Home Journal, 1886
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Politely Accepting Compliments

 Don’t do that. Do this instead.

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them... This article is part of Hilary Robinson’s “Don’t do that. Do this instead series.”

Compliments are lovely. We all like to hear nice things about ourselves, don’t we?

While most of us like hearing compliments, not many of us feel comfortable receiving them.

Justify a compliment: DON’T DO THAT

Instead of being left with a sense of accomplishment when someone pays us a compliment we find ourselves slightly embarrassed; we stumble for words, look at our feet and probably mutter something self-deprecating.

Often the conversations go something like this:

‘Job well done!’ …‘Oh, I was just doing my job.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Oh, I, um…in this old thing?’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Oh, anyone could have done that.’

Not only does this leave us feeling slightly embarrassed but it also leaves the person giving the compliment feeling awkward and takes away from their good intentions. When we make excuses and try to rationalize the compliment we run the risk of turning it into a much bigger ‘event’ than the other person intended.

DO THIS INSTEAD: Say ‘thank you’

There is, however, a lovely, simple and gracious way to deal with the situation: say ‘thank you’. That’s all you have to do. You don’t have to expound, you don’t have to justify why, you just need to say thank you.

‘Job well done!’ …‘Thank you.’

‘You look gorgeous!’ …‘Thank you.’

‘Great presentation.’ …‘Thank you.’

Keep in mind that people don’t have to say anything; so when they pay you a compliment, pay them the compliment of accepting it graciously.


You’re now asking yourself if it’s really that easy, aren’t you? Well, I gave this advice to my lovely friend Karen, and here’s what she told someone else about our conversation…and in doing so, she paid me a compliment (thank you, Karen):

“I once mentioned to Hilary that I found it very difficult to accept compliments. Every time anyone said something positive to me, about me I found myself denying it, justifying myself or making a joke. Which inevitably ruined the intent of the comment and sometimes made things awkward. Hilary looked at me and said, ‘All you have to do is say thank you’. Simple, obvious, brilliant. I trusted Hilary and tried it out, it works. In one sentence she solved what was becoming a regular stumbling block in my professional and personal interactions.”

An especially big thank you to my mum, who taught it to me in the first place.

Use these two simple words and you will be thought of as gracious, polished and professional.

Hilary Robinson is the Senior Trainer and Owner of Polished Professionals in Toronto, Polished Professionals Canada. With her background, spent running events for Prime Ministers, CEOs and academics (in the UK and Canada), one might think that she’s all about following the rules. However, she prefers to train people to understand their parameters, what it means to follow them, what advantages there are in knowing how and when to bend them, and the value in using good manners to put others at ease. With 20 years working worldwide in events and communications, Hilary believes manners and courtesy are not only powerful communication tools but the foundations on which self-confidence and success grow.

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Monday, May 14, 2018

British Royal Wedding Etiquette

A point of royal protocol... The formal consent document, signed by Queen Elizabeth II for Meghan Markle to marry Prince Harry, was unveiled to the public last Saturday. Unlike the consent document for Prince William and Kate Middleton, it did not refer to Meghan as “our trusty and well-beloved.” According to a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace, Kate Middleton was referred to by this term as she was a British citizen. “Trusty and well-beloved” is customarily used only for citizens of the “UK and Commonwealth Realms.” 

Royal weddings are full of protocol but how are guests expected to behave on the big day?

For any ordinary wedding-goer, the prospect of attending a royal wedding and meeting royalty, especially the Queen, is a daunting one. What is the correct form in such a situation?


Don't overdo it. Debrett's “New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners” says the sweeping curtsy and long, low bow “can be the subject of some amusement within royal circles.” Instead, ladies are expected to make a brief bob with the weight on the front foot, and gentlemen should opt for a small nod, and look down briefly. Do the same when the royal leaves the room.


Younger members of the royal family will probably have a less formal attitude to introductions, however it is best to refrain from informalities. While it is fine to accept a handshake from the Queen, officials discourage any other form of touching. Former Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, was famously branded the Lizard of Oz in 1992 when he was photographed placing his arm on the Queen's back. However, in 2009, the Queen herself touched US First Lady Michelle Obama on her back during a reception at Buckingham Palace - a gesture which was returned. A palace spokesperson referred to it as “a mutual and spontaneous display of affection and appreciation.”


At state banquets, guests are not allowed to take photos. A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said that at all royal events the use of personal cameras is discouraged. The event will, in any case, be covered by a professional photographer. – Sources BBC, Debrett’s and Daily Mail 2011 - 2018

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

19th C. French Etiquette Customs

"Bad table manners, my dear Gigi, have broken up more households than infidelity." ~ Aunt Alicia instructing Gigi on how to properly eat ortolan.

The etiquette in the best old families of France as regards young girls is very strict, says a foreign correspondent, and at 17 they begin to be seen at their mothers' “at homes,” but at 18 only they make their debut in society, beginning with the opera, Lenten receptions, and what are now generally called “bals blancs.” 

The French girl never has any cards of her own; when she is what they call in England “out” her name is written below her mother's. The letters addressed to her are always delivered first to her parent's hands, who passes them to her opened or unopened, as she thinks fit. 

She wears no jewels beyond one row of pearls around her neck. She rides early before the fashionable hour at the Bois, escorted by her father; her brother may take her out driving, and she is even permitted now to take the reins, a liberty which ten years ago would have stamped her as outrageously fast. French girls of almost any rank, including the bourgeoisie, never walk out alone. They marry young, presumably before 20. —  Marin Journal, 1887

Etiquette Enthusiast,Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia