Q. I have heard some bits and pieces about the etiquette rules provided for those invited to Prince Harry's wedding. If some that I heard about are true, I think they are worth repeating because we Americans seem to be slipping when it comes to proper manners these days. Could you please tell us about them?
Regarding the Queen:
- Never touch the Queen.
- Do not speak to the Queen unless she speaks to you first. If she speaks to you and you respond, you say the words: "Your Majesty" at the end of your first response. After your second response, you say: "Ma'am".
- It is considered very inappropriate to say "Nice to meet you" to anyone. The proper greeting is "How do you do". It is also the phrase repeated back during the handshake.
- You are not to extend your hand for a handshake unless the Queen extends hers first.
- Americans are not required to bow or curtsy when the Queen passes, but may do so out of respect.
- When dining with the Queen, you are to stop eating when she puts down her eating utensils, whether you are finished or not. This applies to each course. One can only hope you are served shortly after the Queen and that she eats slowly. There are no doggy bag requests.
Ladies wedding attire:
- Do not wear white or cream because those are the colors of the bride. This is also a rule most attendees follow in America. Do not wear black or dark Navy because these are colors prescribed for funerals, not joyous occasions.
- Dresses are appropriate with conservative hemlines (i.e., not above the knee); shoulders should be covered, absolutely no cleavage.
- Pantyhose, or tights, as they are called in the UK, are required and the color should be nude.
- Closed-toe heels of a modest height (2-1/2 inches to 3 inches maximum) should be worn. Platform heels are definitely not appropriate.
- Dresses should not be worn which cannot be blown up by the wind. An interesting note is that the Queen has small weights sewn into the hems of all her dresses to insure this never occurs.
- Hats or fascinators are to be worn. Fabric hats before Easter and straw after. Size should not be such so as to block the view of anyone seated behind you. A style too small, such as a clip, is also considered very inappropriate and rude. The style, color, and/or size should never be such that it detracts attention from the bride.
- Small bags
- Simple jewelry
- Ladies do not cross their legs when sitting. Ankles can be crossed with knees kept together.
- Never use the word, "toilet" when referring to a "bathroom". To do so is considered very, very inappropriate.
- Do not use the word, "pardon."
- Arrive approximately one hour prior to the beginning of the ceremony
- No cell phones and if one is carried, it should be turned off. Definitely no pictures are to be posted in any type of social media until official photographs are posted. No tweeting.
- Gifts are considered appropriate, but not to be brought to the ceremony. Charitable donations of approximately $500 were considered appropriate for this royal wedding.
- Appropriate morning suits for men; hats removed when entering the church; hands at sides when standing - never in pockets
- Ladies arms to remain straight at their sides when standing
Dining and social etiquette:
- Extremely important.
- European style of eating preferred over American. (Knife and fork are not switched after cutting meat; food is pushed onto the back of the tines of the fork in the left hand and brought to the mouth; knife remains in the right hand).
- Very important for champagne glasses to be held by the stem.
- Small bites
- Do not over indulge in alcohol and no "gulping"
- Posture very important
- Never drink tea from the teacup with the teabag inside the cup
- No extended "pinky" when drinking from the teacup. Little finger should be folded under towards the handle
- Do not pick up the saucer with the teacup unless standing
- Return cup to saucer after each sip
- Stirring with a spoon should be from 12 o'clock to six o'clock only
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Dianne Isbell at Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.