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By Royal command

Queen Elizabeth has seen it all in 50 years of royal tours; power cuts, naked natives and drink-fuelled student protest. As Ireland prepares for her visit and Taoiseach Enda Kenny promises a "right royal welcome", the British monarch herself, officials and dignitaries can learn a few dos and don't's from previous encounters.

1 Speaking: When it comes to important speeches, be wary of equipment and slip-ups. On her 2007 visit to the United States, someone forgot to adjust the lectern height. This resulted in a 'talking hat' queen -- that's all we could see -- which provided an enduring image.

2 Get one's facts right: The queen met George H Bush -- and aged 200 years. Adding a couple of (hundred) years to a woman's age is best avoided. In 1996, President Bush (elder) referred to the queen's last visit in 1776, rather than 1976. "She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child!" he recalled.

3Hands off: That's the rule, and Prime Minister Paul Keating was dubbed The Lizard of Oz when he steered the queen by a hand on her back, during her 1992 Australian visit. However, in 2009, Michelle Obama's famous hug followed the queen's gentle guiding touch on her arm.

4One must avoid glass doors: Many accidents occur indoors, as Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles found out while on an American visit when she accidentally almost walked into a completely clear glass door. "That was a near one," she laughed.

5 Make sure the ESB bill is paid: The queen dressed by candlelight during a power cut on her 2002 Jamaica visit. The lights failed again on her entrance to a banquet -- which was mostly eaten by candlelight, kerosene lamps, and some car headlights.

6 Switch one's phone off: As she worked her way down one receiving line, an irrepressible ringing led to "Better answer it, might be someone important" as a smiling queen passed by one disappointed guest.

7 No snubs: Only death or notifiable illness will excuse absences or late shows. Otherwise, political crises or diplomatic snubs could be assumed by the watching world.

8 Earn a royal gong: In 1903, King Edward VII was so impressed by Irish hospitality that he unexpectedly knighted the Mayor Of Waterford. Can standards be maintained?

Lorna Hogg

Indo Review