Posts Tagged 'The Queen'

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) 

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 


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