What is it about the Royal Union and their heirs? At the risk of offending my colleagues and friends, I can’t help but roll my eyes at the British medias’ insinuation about those blundering Big Kids, the so called Americans. Apparently « we » made another faux pas when LeBron James innocently put his arm around The Duchess of Cambridge for the photo shoot after the December 8th game between the New York Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Now what could be more natural when cheesing it for the camera than to offer an arm slung over a shoulder and a big smile especially at a good ol’ American ball game?
The British tabloids were even more offended when Our First Lady breached protocol and hugged the Queen in 2009. But hugs are as much a part of our culture as tea is a part of theirs. When in the USA, especially the Midwest, it is considered good manners, part of our warm hospitality, to welcome visitors with a hug or extra long hand shake.
However, LeBron inadvertently broke rules of royal etiquette. Who speaks first, what to say, how to stand and when to sit have been divinely ordained but aren’t they a little outmoded for the 21st century?
Apparently not. An insider, who worked for the British royal family or Her Majesty’s Household, offers these tips when encountering royalty.
- Do not speak unless spoken to or ask inappropriate questions.
- Never touch a royal. A handshake is the only exception and only when royalty initiate it. For heaven’s sake don’t dare keep holding on.
- Address the Queen, as “Your Majesty,” then “Ma’am” and the Duke and Duchess, as “Your Royal Highness,” then “Ma’am” or “Sir.”
- Stand when royalty enters a room. Men should bow and women should curtsy on introduction. Are you kidding me ? Curtsy ? In this day and age ?
- When the most senior royal in attendance finishes the meal, so do all the guests. Huh. What if you are still hungry ?
“From medieval times, monarchs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they demanded to be treated as gods,” Dr Kate Williams, a historian at London’s Royal Holloway University explained.”They are treated as people set apart from the rest of us, creating distance and grandeur.”
Ironically, Americans really do like Kate and William, but oh, if only they could buck those pompous traditions.
Get over it already. Remember the bloody Revolution of 1812? We are the ones who dumped your tea in the harbor and refused to bow down to the British crown in sovereignty. The French beheaded their King and Queen.
I am not suggesting anything so radical, but I’d like to offer insight on how to behave in the ‘hood. If you hang out in our playground –what’s more American than a basketball game in Brooklyn– learn to play by our rules. A bit of down-to-earth, genuine appreciation for the common folk can go a long way in smoothing public relations.
People on the other side of the Atlantic wonder if it is time that royalty stopped putting on airs and stepped out of that glass castle. To make a difference, you have to relate to the downtrodden. To commiserate with the working class, it’s time to take off the white gloves, get down on the ground and roll in the dirt. Take a tip from our King James; human touch speaks louder than words. Put protocol aside, learn from the kids across the Pond, be real and hug.