No need to bow or curtsy -- but for goodness' sake don't proffer your paw
Published 17/05/2011 | 05:00
SO you're among the handful of select invitees at one of the royal visit events this week and suddenly you spot a diminutive woman in a big hat heading in your direction.
It looks as if you're minutes away from an encounter with Herself, Queen Elizabeth. But what to do? Bow, curtsy, nod, run away?
In fact, it's all quite simple.
Only British subjects or citizens of the Commonwealth are required to bow or curtsy to the monarch (and the Irish aren't too keen on that sort of thing anyhow).
So, no bows required. But there is a Golden Rule -- Do Not Touch The Queen. Don't proffer your paw unless she initiates a handshake, and for the love of God restrain from doing a Paul Keating -- the Australian prime minister landed himself in all sorts of trouble in 1992 when he threw his arm around Her Majesty.
Touching the royal person is a big no-no, so just pretend she's a Ming vase or a very hot plate and steer clear.
And how does one address the queen, should she stop for a chinwag? On first meeting her, 'Your Majesty' is the proper form of address, but subsequently 'Ma'am' will do.
And as the future queen mother (Helena Bonham Carter) pointed out in 'The King's Speech', it's pronounced "Ma'am as in ham, not marm as in farm". And Prince Philip is a nice and basic 'Sir'.
Moreover, should a chat get under way, don't launch into a blizzard of questions about her family -- no interrogations as to how Wills and Kate are settling into married life, or did Princess Beatrice wear that wedding hat for a bet. The queen gets to lead the way in the conversation.
And should you find yourself at the head table at the state dinner in Dublin Castle tomorrow evening, keep an eye on the queen's progress through her food, for when she stops eating, everyone's knives and forks go down.
But most of this advice won't be required by the citizens of Ireland, as the opportunities for the general public to get close to Queen Elizabeth are practically zero as most of the public events have large cordons thrown around them.
Her best chance of mingling with some locals will probably be in the English Market in Cork when she'll meet the traders as she tours the stalls. Though they'll probably have to wing it a bit on the etiquette front -- for it's sure as anything that there are no guidelines in the Royal Handbook on asking the British monarch to pose with a plateful of crubeens.