Open Thread

by epi on October 4, 2011

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Creighton October 4, 2011 at 7:33 am

I have been invited to a drinks reception at Windsor Castle and will be meeting one of the senior members of the royal family for pictures and short conversation. Meeting a member of royalty for me (as an American in the UK for a few years) seems very formal to me but the event seems to be a rather casual affair to celebrate one of the member of royalty’s charities. I have read where it is normal to present a member of royalty with a gift but that seems for a private audience but would like to know if it is expected in these circumstances? Also, after the event would a formal thank-you for hosting the reception be expected? I presume if one is expected it would come from the charity not the guests but I have to admit this is all a first for me and I would rather not make an avoidable error. Thank-you for any guidance.

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Elizabeth October 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

It is my understanding that the readership of this blog is largely American and Canadian, so it might prove difficult for someone here to answer your query with any authority. If it’s a drinks reception held to celebrate a charity, I would simply treat it as that – no gift required for the host. Similarly, a thank you note doesn’t seem typical for a cocktail reception in any other context. It might be best to ask someone (a Brit) who has some familiarity with the protocol of such an event.

Also – how did you come to be invited to this event? I assume you are also a supported of the charity? If that is the case, then the most likely scenario is that this party is being thrown to thank the charity’s past supporters (including you), so no thank you is required for something that is, essentially a thank you. Alternatively, this could be a party designed to drum up some support for the charity, in which case you might give them a donation if you find the cause worthy.

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Jodi Blackwood October 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hello Christopher,

I recommend you contact William Hanson, a protocol and etiquette consultant based in Manchester, England. He will definitely be able to assist you with your questions and provide the appropriate advice. His website http://williamhanson.co.uk/

Enjoy your experience!
Jodi

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Lady Antipode October 5, 2011 at 12:39 am

This website might help –

This one seems reasonable, too, with a focus on the protocol for Americans – http://www.elegantwoman.org/royal-etiquette.html

You might also contact the hosts from whom you received the invitation, or there must be some sort of royal functionary who deals with protocol. These questions are quite common, I would think.

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Christopher Creighton October 6, 2011 at 6:15 am

Thank-you for the responses. We were noticed of the reception opportunity on behalf of the charity but the actual invitation is from HRH. I have gone to the various websites on meeting royalty and most are about what to call them, how generally to act in their presence and what to wear; but not so much about general expectations (thank-you and gifts and such) and its a rare enough event that I don’t personally know anyone with experience. I went to the US embassy website but there is no longer a protocol office to ask. I don’t really want to go to those that arranged our connection as it is assumed by them that one just knows these things (for them its all old hat). From all I’ve read short of purposefully causing a problem its all been done before correctly and incorrectly and no one is sent off to the Tower any longer for a faux pas! So no great stress but a sincere desire to do things as right as possible. The main issue causing me consternation is whether a “thank-you” is expected or appropriate since the invitation came from HRH even though it is due to association with the charity (I would likely send a thank-you to my son’s rugby coach for hosting a cocktail party at his home in honor of the season opening for the parents of the team). We were required to register for security checks and then the inviation came from HRH to attend a cocktail reception at the castle (we did indeed make a contribution to the charity but that all seems to be taken as a seperate issue to the event). So I am looking at it as two seperate events 1) an invitation by HRH to cocktails in honor of the good works of the charity 2) having supported the charity in the past with a donation shows a mutual affinity for the charity involved that HRH wants to thank the group for supporting their cause. So is a thank-you note likely expected? In either case is it appropriate or is that thanking someone for thanking you?

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Jodi Blackwood October 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Christopher,
I would encourage you again to contact William Hanson, the etiquette & protocol specialist in the UK. http://williamhanson.co.uk/ Looking at websites is probably not going to provide an answer to your question (every possible situation cannot be address on a website) but I am sure he has the answer for you.

As an alternative, I would strongly recommend you address your question to the staff of the royal household; your question is very simple and could be asked upon your arrival at the event. I assure you that this is not “old hat” to them; appropriate protocol is taken very seriously and they want to make sure that all interactions with the royal family are done appropriately. President Obama and his wife Michelle were briefed on proper royal protocol before their visit with the Queen, so it happens to everyone!

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Christopher Creighton October 11, 2011 at 5:46 am

Thank-you all for your comments. I did as you suggested and contacted Mr. Hanson who has indeed been very helpful (and the answer in case it comes up for any future reader is yes it would be appropriate to send a thank-you taking into consideration all the various aspects of a letter to royalty which is information supplied by both Mr. Hanson and the Royals’ official web pages).

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