Tuesday, March 30, 2010
On Sunday, dear readers, I was asked to lunch with the Princesss Royal.
Well. Of a sort. A few select journos were invited to see the course she's designed at her home estate for horse trials, and then join her for lunch afterwards. To read more about this, you'll have to see my article for The Lady when it comes out.
But in advance, I thought – I think I know what to do (I am PB, after all) but I'd better just check the protocol. Being the lazy 21st century fact finder that I am, rather than check my Debrett's Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners, I tried to google 'princess royal etiquette greeting' but yielded nada of any use. Luckily, I was able to dredge up from dim memories past, the correct instruction.
The right answer, is, of course, to say 'Your Royal Highness' on introduction and then call her 'ma'am' thereafter (rhyming with jam not smarm). One should also curtsey. I was taught that the grander one is, the lower the curtsey. The grandest person I know could give the floor a quick polish with her elegant derriere, when saying hello to the Queen.
In the event, HRH Princess Royal was completely ungrand (and really rather delightfully amusing). On introduction, I simply said 'Your Royal Highness' and thought I caught a sharp glint of approval in her eyes but you would not have detected any less when the woman next to me said 'Pleased to meet you'. Still, I'm afraid I rather let the PB side down: I just couldn't bring myself to be the only one to curtsey when all around me remained as upright as ironing boards.
One more thing. I've always suspected the Royals of being less than truly posh (they send Christmas cards with family photos on the front, for heaven's sake) but this was only confirmed when I saw HRH eat her pud. She used a spoon! SHOCKER.
And on that bombshell....