We have moved!

Thank you to all who have reading our blog but we have now moved to a new home having teamed up with Public Image to create the Manners & Mores blog, where not only will we be discussing manners, etiquette and protocol but also image, appearance, social trends, fashion and personal motivation.

Come and visit the Manners & Mores blog.

The Protocol of Royal Investitures

Yesterday, Her Majesty The Queen at long last knighted Sir Bruce Forsyth at Buckingham Palace. Investitures take place throughout the year, usually around 25. Most take place at Buckingham Palace, but occasionally there are some that take place at Windsor Castle and Her Majesty’s official Scottish residence, Hollyrood Palace, in Edinburgh.

The first time I went to Buckingham Palace was on the occasion of my father’s investiture. That was many years ago, where I was young boy and the only thing I can really remember was that the entrance to the gentleman’s lavatories was a moving wall. Investitures have changed since my father’s, as now there are considerably more celebrities that are given honours. Back when I was at the Palace, there was only one vaguely famous person, namely the radio and TV presenter David Jacobs CBE. We can mainly thank Mr. Blair for the increase of celebs at these ceremonies.

As with Sir Bruce’s ceremony, the Buckingham Palace investitures take place in the Ballroom, watched by family and friends of each recipient. Sir Bruce’s knighthood was announced in June in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. New honours also get detailed at the start of each year in the New Year’s Honours List.

During the ceremony light music is provided by an orchestra from the Household Division as each recipient receives their honour. The dress code is smart, as one would expect. Morning dress, military uniform, lounge suits or national dress (the same as April’s Royal Wedding).

The usual royal protocol is to be followed: don’t shake Her Majesty’s hand until she puts her hand out first, and only then shake it lightly. What is interesting to note about the handshakes at investitures is that Her Majesty will extend her hand at the end of the exchange with each recipient and will usually push her hand out further at the end of the shake in order to suggest to the recipient that they should now take their leave from in front of the dais. You can see from the video of Sir Bruce’s knighthood that Her Majesty does just that. Recipients should not be offended at this – Her Majesty has around 120 people to invest.

The Queen usually converses with each of the newly honoured, but only few a very short time. Details of the conversation should remain private and it is not the done thing to then go and tell the press what was said. The same applies for any conversation with Royalty. Alas, Sir Bruce did not adhere to this etiquette during an interview with the BBC’s Sophie Rayworth – mind you, she should not have asked!

Sir Bruce is now a Knight Bachelor, which is one of the highest honours (although the lowest form of Knight but the one most usually given). During this, the recipient kneels on his right knee on the investiture stool and The Queen dubs him with a naked sword. Women are made Dames but this does not involve the sword. Contrary to popular belief, Her Majesty does not say ‘Rise, Sir Bruce’ or anything similar. Instead the recipient simply rises, then stands to the left of the stool before being invested with the insignia of the Order.

As Sir Bruce is now a Knight Bachelor he received just a badge (worn round the neck), whereas Knights of an Order of Chivalry receive a star pinned on the left side of the coat and a badge.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner
(Text adapted from original article for The Huffington Post) 

Tomato Ketchup Etiquette

Following on from our last post on barbecue etiquette., here is our guide to eating tomato ketchup correctly.

Tomato Ketchup is an accompaniment to food and so, by definition, is a condiment.  The key to condiment etiquette is to take small portions on to your plate, and never to smear it all over a burger or a roll direct from the bottle or knife!

When entertaining, never allow the bottle of tomato ketchup anywhere near the table, no matter how ‘posh’ the manufacturer – Heinz is probably still the best and easiest to get out of the bottle!  Shake the bottle well, holding the cap, and then tip or spoon into a small pot.  For a chic barbeque or supper, serve guests with individual tiny pots (ramekins) and small spoons so they can take their own.

Always spoon ketchup directly on to the plate, as one would with a sauce or jelly.  At a formal meal, never ask for it unless it is already on the table, and never dip anything into the bowl.  If you do find a bottle on a table at a supper party, never squirt it all over food, don’t mix it with salt and pepper and don’t eat it with your fingers!

 

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner 

Barbecue Etiquette

BarbecueThe British summer is well underway and this can only mean one thing – the barbecues have been wheeled out from storage and are taking pride of place in we Brits’ gardens. I shall be honest now and say that I loathe a barbecue and think they should be outlawed in Britain, or other countries where the weather is not regularly conducive to outdoor dining.

The only type of barbecue I can just about tolerate is a sit-down with cutlery affair. If there’s proper napkins to hand then all the better. Barbecues where you have to stand up and wolf a hot dog or chicken kebab down are ghastly affairs. I like food and wish to enjoy it at leisure.

My parents have lovely barbecues (if indeed that is not an oxymoron). We all sit on the terrace at their Gloster outdoor furniture (that has been properly washed down before use), under the often-superfluous parasol, food is placed in serving dishes down the middle of the table, and we all sit with blue gingham napkins on our laps to protect the chinos. It’s very civilized and we all look like we’ve been lifted off the page from the John Lewis catalogue. It has much more relaxed atmosphere than an indoor meal in a dining room, yet one can enjoy the breeze and gentle heat. These ordeals where you have to stand up and find an unclaimed piece of patio in which to stand are so tense. You have to worry about whether you have salsa running down your chin, focus on making sure your burger doesn’t fly out the other side, and then find where you left your glass so you can have a much needed drink.

The secret of successful dining (indoor or out) is to think about your guests’ every need. I have found with stand-up barbecues that hosts are much more laid back about everything and often overlook the most basic of details. It’s only good manners to think about your fellow diners when you are hosting.

Here are our tips for ensuring that whatever style of barbecue you do this summer you get the etiquette right. (The cooking is down to you.)

Barbecue dos and don’ts…

- If you opt for a stand-up affair, consider a service table where you can place the dishes of food as well as cutlery, glasses, jugs of water, juice and the like, as well as napkins…

- …Ensure that you have put out sufficient napkins for your guests. Even if they are paper ones, make sure that they have something to wipe those sticky hands

- Men: however good you think your barbecue skills are, don’t start giving the cook unwanted advice

- Beer should always be served in glasses and not drunk from the bottle. The last time I drank out of a bottle I was 18 months old

- If knives and forks are not put out you have permission to use your fingers

- Kebabs: if eating sitting down with cutlery then hold the top of the kebab stick and using your fork slide each chunk of meat onto the plate. If eating with the fingers then hold both ends and gnaw away (inelegant but acceptable)

- Burgers: watch how much sauce you put in the middle of your burger as when picking up and biting in to it the sauce could shoot out and give your fellow diners a nasty squirt

- Peas: often seen at barbecues and quite hard to eat at the best of times. Hopefully a host would only serve these at a sit-down affair. Don’t turn your fork over in the right hand, keep it in the left and push the peas onto the tines. Or, use some of the other food as ‘glue’ (mashed potato is excellent for this)

- Whilst the men traditionally will cook the meat and often taken all of the credit, don’t forget to thank the ladies or those who prepared the salad, vegetables or puddings!


William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner 

Obama’s Breach of Royal Protocol

At last night’s state dinner held at Buckingham Palace, President Obama inadvertently broke Royal Protocol whilst he made the loyal toast to Her Majesty The Queen.

Click to watch the video from BBC News.

So, what went wrong? After calling for the guests to stand, Mr Obama said “To Her Majesty The Queen”. If he had stopped here, this would be correct(ish). In Britain, the loyal toast is just ‘The Queen’. There is no ‘to’ preposition. This is what set off the orchestra from the Scotch Guards into playing the British national anthem, as they would be used to loyal toasts ending there. However, Mr. Obama chose to extend the toast and say a few more words, which (however well intentioned) is breaking Royal protocol.

It was quite nice to have the national anthem underscoring the rest of his toast, but normally one stands in respectful silence whilst it plays. Her Majesty, being polite and worldly, thanked Mr. Obama for his kind words and did not say anything. It would have been rude to do so.

What Mr. Obama needs to learn from this hiccough is that a toast is not a speech.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner 

The Etiquette of Valentine’s Day

Getting Valentine’s day right isn’t hard – it just takes a little bit of forethought and planning to ensure that the 14th February is a properly romantic affair rather than a tacky experiment.

Rules for Men

Red rosesGood old-fashioned chivalry may well be becoming a thing of the past, and some would argue it’s long dead and buried, but its survival has not been helped by feminism – which has caught men between a rock and a hard place over how they should treat the opposite sex. Yet, men are also to blame somewhat for letting it become so much of a tightrope.

It’s fair to say that even though there are some women who would recoil if a gentleman held a door open for her, in 2011, a lot of ladies have realized that they actually do like a bit of chivalry, even if they won’t necessarily admit it out-loud.

So if you are in the market for a bit of courtly love, here are the basics!

- Have an umbrella handy so you can shield your date from the rain, if needs be

- Hold doors open for women and let them go through first. (There is an etiquette for revolving doors, which, I think is a little long-winded: the man enters the revolving door first, pushes it round for the woman but emerges after her, thus going round twice!)

- Offer your coat if it gets cold

- The gentleman always pays the bill on the first date

That’ll be the dahlia

Giving flowers can be something of a minefield. People have definite opinions about flowers – some hate chrysanthemums, others think carnations are cheap. Whichever bloom you choose, it’s probably best to find out before which flowers your loved one actually likes, and stick to that.

When buying flowers, do remember the following.

- Make sure your chose a good florist – ideally once you choose your florist you should stay with them as this will ensure a relationship is built up and they will learn what suits you best

- The cost of the bouquet will vary on how generous you feel and how deeply you are in love. £40 is the average a typical man would spend on flowers for Valentine’s Day, but remember that a beautiful hand-tired posy may mean just as much as a grand, no-expense-spared display

- If your lover is at work, it would be thoughtful to send them to her place of work – others will spy her carrying the bunch and she’ll get the chance to show off how much she’s loved by her admirer

- If you sent flowers last year, make sure you match your previous gift this year – if the bunch looks cheaper than last time then brace yourself for a bumpy ride

- For all things floral, The English Manner suggests Pulbrook and Gould in central London, or Judith Blacklock Flower Designs.  For those out of town, take a look at John Lewis and M&S – always great value and innovative designs.

Suits You

No one wants to be courted by someone with bad breath or dirty nails – your image and persona is vital for success. You don’t have to be dressed from top to toe in Savile Row, but cleanliness and style will pay dividends. When dressing yourself, remember there are sartorial rules for a reason. Break them at your peril!

Food of Love

Going out for a romantic meal for two, however unimaginative, is also a good step. There are plenty of excellent restaurants but eating out will mean that you share your special moments with the other diners.

It’s worth remembering that 14th February is one of the busiest nights of the year for the restaurant trade; make sure you get a good table by booking in advance at a restaurant she likes and be prepared for two sittings and indifferent service.

However delicious food in a high-class restaurant may be, nothing will impress your date more than a home-cooked meal. It speaks volumes if you can cook and take the time to make something special.

Rules for Ladies

The most important thing to remember is that men are different from women. Give men some space so they can reflect on what a catch you are. Relationships where you spend every second together don’t tend to last. In general, men may be more laid back whilst the girls have a tendency to worry. Celebrate the differences rather then fretting over them.

Remember to keep in mind what your dress says about your intentions – people can dress to reflection their mood subconsciously (i.e. – a black low-cut neck means you’re interested; a black nun’s habit means anything but!).

If your partner starts to flirt with another woman – let him! You’ll look better for not reacting to it and he’ll probably realize you’re more attractive. A lot of men (and women) like to hear compliments about themselves; it makes us feel good.

If your partner does over-step the mark with another lady then don’t make a scene in public. Arguing about anything for all to see is the height of bad form. Have your argument behind closed doors – don’t ruin other people’s night.

Dress to Impress

When going out with your partner, whether it be to an event or just out-and-about, try to co-ordinate what you’re wearing. The earring rule is generally short earrings during the day, and longer at night.

One final point to remember is that the man’s dress should never out-shine the woman’s.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Super Servants, Super Service

The English Manner has long used the phrase ‘super-service’ when training in private households, yachts, planes and hotels.  To our minds, this means the employee reaching their utmost potential and giving 110% to their tasks, ensuring that nothing is left to chance and that the needs of every guest or household are anticipated before they even know they desire it!

Domestic service has become fashionable in the media in the past few weeks thanks to the fabulous ‘Downton Abbey’ and a revival of the old favourite, ‘Upstairs Downstairs’, and we applaud this as there is no doubt that working for others in this way has become something to be looked down upon in the eyes of the world, and is no longer recognised for what it is: a fabulous career path with the potential to travel, broaden your horizons and skill levels; and good potential rewards – and relationships –  for life.

Downton Abbey staff

The staff of ITV's hit Downton Abbey

But the tide is turning and we are getting daily enquiries for traditional training with a modern twist – for the ‘super-servant’ – a personal concierge who can multitask (women do this as a matter of course!) juggling diaries and schedules, dinner parties and driving, school runs and swimming pool maintenance, alongside purchasing property, wines and antiques and balancing portfolios of fine art with treasury bonds.

Economically it made sense for staff to live in, now they are earning so much money in these high profile roles that they often own their own homes, and without the financial need, they and their employers welcome the privacy and space afforded by shutting the front door at the end of the day, unless they can afford the mews house next door!

Days though are usually long, and often involve extensive overseas travel, constantly changing schedules, and sometimes an innate lack of understanding of any form of private life or personal ties.  These roles are not for the encumbered, they are ideal for the sophisticated with an eye for detail, with an understanding of how to enjoy the finest things in life, without crossing the line.  Both parties have to learn to keep their distance otherwise disaster strikes; nannies have always accompanied the family on outings but did not usually join dinner parties, and in a bygone era, everyone knew their place.  Most people under the age of 60 do not have any personal experience of private staff whatsoever.  As a result, our attitudes have changed, and most employers now feel uncomfortable around their staff, either over compensating by charm or, more often than not, by being standoffish and plain rude.  It is our task to educate the employer as much as the employee, and show them how to respect those who work for them and with them.  If that is achieved, high morale and retention follow.

Most staff at the highest levels now have their own assistants but the hierachy is nothing like the days of ‘Downton Abbey’ when the local villagers would vie to work in the ‘big house’ rather than in the mill, the mine or even on the land.  In London most junior domestic staff come from overseas, precisely because working for others has been regarded as the lowest of the low by we British for some years, and we are trying hard at The English Manner to educate young people to start to train for domestic service.  Many who might have taken a gap year will now miss out on a university place:  what better way to start work than to train for a secure household as a mother’s help, cook or housekeeper?  Our sister company, The Household Academy, runs regular classes for traditional training in these roles, as well as bespoke training for those who may have already begun their career but who want to make the leap to House Manager or PA, and need to acquire the extra skills and confidence to do so.

London is now home to a vast tranche of overseas wealth as well as UK based super-rich such as hedge fund managers and City bankers.  Money rules now more than ever before and with that wealth comes the need for presentable, well spoken staff who can turn their hand to any task.  Let’s put some pride back into the household and instead of allowing the plum jobs to be taken by those who have seen the opportunity from Australia, America or Italy, encourage our young people, as well as those who perhaps are leaving military service careers in early middle age, to go back to basics and train in the traditional methods of private service but with a modern twist:  money rules, and the world has to prove it can rise up to the challenge of servicing it.

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers