Archive for May, 2011

The Queen of England is about to arrive on our shores.  As many of you are unaccustomed with mingling with royalty, I thought I’d share with you some of the gems of wisdom on the subject of proper decorum and etiquette that I have accumulated.

First, the Queen is an old lady, so speak up. And speak slowly.  She’s not used to people pronouncing their r‘s.

Second, remember that you are the 1,456,932nd person she has met. You are not that interesting. Nobody is that interesting. She was so taken aback by how immensely riveting I was when we met that she had to shy away from me hurriedly to contain her wonderment and awe and her security detail ushered me away for fear of intimidating the guests.  (At least, that’s how it seemed to me.)

Do not wonder aloud at how on earth she has stayed married to Philip without punching him in the face. It’s possible that she actually does that. If he’s that rude in public, imagine how obnoxious he is behind closed doors.   She has a lot to put up with.

She’s very interested in horses, so steer the conversation in that direction. Give her a good tip on the 3.45 at Gowran Park. Or mention a great accumulator you’ve got going in Ladbrokes. Definitely words like “Ruby” and “Walsh” or “Epsom” and “Derby” should be happily coalescing in every third sentence.

It’s rude to upstage the guest of honour by dressing better than them.  So, just as you would never wear a white gown to a wedding, don’t wear anything from the 20th or 21st centuries to meet the Queen.  If you are trying to figure out the appropriate attire to accord all due deference to Her Majesty, just think “aging Victorian plantation owner.”  This is my guide when I meet the Queen, although I usually have a daring nod to modernity by including a handbag from the 1940s. (I think this may also explain some of the ushering away.  I’m just too outré for HRH.)

If the conversation is flagging over the canapes, just say “so, seriously Liz, of all the heads of state you’ve met in your reign, who was the most up himself?” You’ll be guaranteed a few mots juste about Robert Mugabe or George Bush.  If there’s gin being served, possibly both.  Or say something like “good God, Margaret Thatcher, what a wagon!” Liz never liked her so that will guarantee you a peerage. Work in something spicy and defamatory about Cherie Blair and she’ll give you East Anglia.

If you are concerned for how she is weathering the recession – and why wouldn’t you be, those palaces don’t heat themselves, you know – suggest taking a few tiaras round to the nearest “Cash for Gold” outlet.  She has so many, who’d miss three or four?

Ask her how her grandson and his new bride are getting on.  (And, while you’re at it, ask why I haven’t got a little ‘thank you’ note for the nice present I got them. What’s not to like about a George Foreman grill?)

Don’t tut-tut about the expense of the wedding.  What you call the British taxpayer, she calls her ATM.

At this point in the conversation you are doubtless firm friends, and since you may never get this opportunity again (see above re: ushering away), why not ask “seriously, Betsy, d’you not think all this protocol is a pile of poo?”

However, regardless of how chummy the two of you become, there are certain lines you must not cross.  If you observe only one piece of etiquette in the presence of the Queen, let it be this.  Regardless of how animated she seems on the subject of horses, don’t assume this is your cue to ask after Camilla.


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