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Jules Hirst, Etiquette Expert

Why do we follow protocol when meetng the Queen?

With all of the atten­tion Pres­i­dent Obama’s Royal Mishap when toast­ing the Queen has been receiving, here is a great arti­cle that gives some insight on why we fol­low pro­to­col when meet­ing the Queen?

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama raised eye­brows when he con­tin­ued speak­ing dur­ing the national anthem with com­men­ta­tors sug­gest­ing pro­to­col had been breached. But what is royal pro­to­col and is it necessary?

Barack Obama was prob­a­bly not aware that he was doing any­thing unusual when mak­ing a toast “to the Queen” and then con­tin­u­ing with a short speech. Accord­ing to pro­to­col, how­ever, he should have stopped after the toast.

The band, tak­ing its cue from the word Queen, struck up with the national anthem leav­ing the pres­i­dent strug­gling to make him­self heard.

What hap­pens when the Queen is toasted is all part of pro­to­col, an elab­o­rate set of cus­toms and rules that gov­ern inter­ac­tions with the British royal family.

Some fuss was also made dur­ing a pre­vi­ous visit by the Oba­mas, when Michelle put her arm around the Queen, another pro­to­col breach.

Mrs Obama’s action echoed sim­i­lar slip-ups by Aus­tralian prime min­is­ters. In 2000, John Howard appeared to have put his arm around the Queen, but that was as noth­ing com­pared to the furore caused by Paul Keat­ing when he put his arm around the Queen dur­ing her 1992 tour of Aus­tralia, and was dubbed “the Lizard of Oz”.

Michelle Obama took the unusual step of hug­ging the Queen dur­ing the First Lady’s pre­vi­ous UK visit When meet­ing a royal, there are rules about who can speak first, where to look, what to call them, how you should stand and when you should sit. It is a mys­te­ri­ous busi­ness to the uninitiated.

But it stems from a time when mon­archs were accorded an almost divine sta­tus and had to be treated accordingly.

From medieval times, mon­archs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they were kind of seen as gods, so they demanded to be treated as gods,” says Dr Kate Williams, a his­to­rian at London’s Royal Hol­loway university.

They are treated as peo­ple set apart from the rest of us, so pri­mar­ily what it is cre­at­ing is dis­tance and grandeur.”

In short, says Dr Williams, “you don’t kiss them, you don’t touch them, you bow — over and over again.”

But in an era when a woman with ances­tors who worked in the coal mines can become a princess, does royal eti­quette really matter?

The reac­tion to Mrs Obama touch­ing the Queen in 2009 would sug­gest it does to some people.

Meet­ing the Queen may never be the same again after an extra­or­di­nary show of affec­tion with Michelle Obama,” wrote Andrew Pierce in the Daily Tele­graph in 2009.

For David Miller, direc­tor of Debrett’s, royal eti­quette is a help­ful set of instruc­tions to show peo­ple how to behave in an unfa­mil­iar social setting.

It’s a code of con­duct in terms of the way in which peo­ple behave at occa­sions and even­tu­al­i­ties that they do not encounter on an every­day basis,” he says.

Yes, it’s wrapped up in his­tory and tra­di­tion, but it’s also prac­ti­cal, uni­ver­sal and there to avoid embarrassment.”

Royal pro­to­col can be viewed as an expres­sion of respect for the Queen.

William Han­son, a pro­to­col expert who trained staff for the lux­ury liner Queen Mary II, says the Queen, with all she has been through, her unique per­spec­tive and posi­tion in the nation’s his­tory, deserves the respect she is afforded.

It’s because we respect her and what she stands for — she stands for all that is great in British soci­ety,” he says.

But there is evi­dence that things are becom­ing more relaxed.

Jen­nie Bond spent 14 years nego­ti­at­ing royal pro­to­col as a part of her job as royal cor­re­spon­dent for the BBC.

I don’t think that they are as hot on eti­quette as most peo­ple think they are,” she says.

They like peo­ple to curtsy, but you’re always told at royal brief­ings that it’s up to you. As a jour­nal­ist, I never did.

All this thing about not speak­ing to the Queen unless you’re spo­ken to, I don’t believe that, I always used to tell her jokes.”

Dr Williams says royal eti­quette has adapted to reflect the shift in what we expect from our royal family.

I think it is chang­ing, I think in the ear­lier period peo­ple wanted their monarch to be set apart from them, that’s what they wanted, they wanted some­one more pow­er­ful [to pro­tect them],” she says.

We’re less and less engaged with the idea of a monarch being dis­tant. For exam­ple, Princess Diana gained pop­u­lar­ity because she was so much less formal.”

But Mr Han­son believes eti­quette still has a role to play, beyond royal cir­cles as much as within them.

These things mat­ter, espe­cially when you’re doing busi­ness with east­ern coun­tries such as China, where they take it even more seri­ously than Britain,” he says.

The Japan­ese, the Chi­nese, the Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries, are more con­cerned with pro­to­col day-to-day.”

Mr Han­son sees a deeper impor­tance behind the prin­ci­ples of etiquette.

If you get the lit­tle things right, all the other things fall into place. It’s about respect and def­er­ence in soci­ety, and that is what we’re lacking.”

As for the recent faux pas by Mr Obama, Mr Han­son says: “It’s not going to spell the end of cor­dial rela­tions between Amer­ica and Britain, but it’s always nice to get these things right.”

Source: BBC News

President Obama’s Royal Mishap When Toasting The Queen

Yes­ter­day Pres­i­dent Obama began a toast to the Queen at the wrong time as a result “God Save The Queen” was play­ing dur­ing his toast. Pro­to­col states that the toast is to be given after “God Save the Queen” is played.

“And now I pro­pose a toast to the Queen,” Pres­i­dent Obama began, but only got as far as “To the vital­ity of the spe­cial rela­tion­ship” before “God Save the Queen” cut him off.

He con­tin­ued to give his toast and raised his glass say­ing “To the Queen” she smiled, but beca­sue the song was play­ing no one drank from his or her glass includ­ing the pres­i­dent he put his glass down on the table.

Once the song was over every­one raised their glass.

Clinton’s human rights remarks against diplomatic etiquette intrest­ing arti­cle where US Sec­re­tary Hillary Clin­ton has been accused of mak­ing remarks that are improper for a diplomat.

Ana­lysts on Thurs­day crit­i­cized US Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on human rights in China as “totally improper and impo­lite” for a diplomat.

The com­ments made by Clin­ton go against “diplo­matic eti­quette,” Zhang Shengjun, a pro­fes­sor of inter­na­tional pol­i­tics at Bei­jing Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity told the Global Times.

Clin­ton claimed in an inter­view with the Atlantic Monthly pub­lished Tues­day, the sec­ond day of the third round of China-US Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Dia­logue (S&ED), that China had “a deplorable human rights record” and feared the polit­i­cal upheaval in the Mid­dle East and North Africa might spread.

They’re wor­ried, and they are try­ing to stop his­tory, which is a fool’s errand,” she told the magazine.

James Palmer, a British his­tory scholar liv­ing in Bei­jing, told the Global Times that “Fool’s errand” are harsh words, which are very unusual for diplo­mats to use.

It’s wrong for Clin­ton to com­pare the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East to that of China because the issues China is faced with are totally dif­fer­ent than those in other regions,” Ni Feng, direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Social Sci­ences, told the Global Times yesterday.

Wash­ing­ton has recently stepped up its rhetoric on China’s human rights, as Chi­nese ana­lysts say the Obama admin­is­tra­tion is cater­ing to pub­lic pres­sure within the US by using the issue to press China dur­ing the S&ED.

The US has no eco­nomic and strate­gic choices to press China so human rights is nat­u­rally the only thing it could use at the moment,” Yuan Peng, direc­tor of the Insti­tute for Amer­i­can Stud­ies at the China Insti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Inter­na­tional Rela­tions, told the Global Times.

China Tues­day dis­missed the accu­sa­tions by the US, stat­ing that no coun­try is per­fect on human rights and China is ready to con­tinue to engage in dia­logue, enhance under­stand­ing, reduce dif­fer­ences and expand com­mon ground on the basis of equal­ity and mutual respect.

China said on Thurs­day that tol­er­ance and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are vital for a har­mo­nious Sino-US rela­tion­ship that not only serves the fun­da­men­tal inter­ests of both sides, but is also con­ducive to the peace and sta­bil­ity of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific is one region where the two coun­tries’ inter­ests are most inter­laced. As coun­tries with a major influ­ence in the area, their har­mo­nious co-existence and favor­able inter­ac­tions will be con­ducive to regional peace, devel­op­ment and pros­per­ity,” Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesper­son Jiang Yu said at a reg­u­lar press brief­ing in Beijing.

The two coun­tries share more com­mon inter­ests and respon­si­bil­i­ties than dis­putes and con­flicts within the Asia-Pacific region, and the mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial co-existence of China and the US depends on con­fi­dence and trust, she added.

The state­ments came a day after the end of the S&ED, dur­ing which the two sides have agreed to estab­lish a mech­a­nism of con­sul­ta­tions on Asia-Pacific affairs.

By Wang Zhaokun
Global Times

When Your Best Just Isn’t Good Enough…

As the keynote speaker of the Tea Party Con­ven­tion, Sarah Palin was poised to demon­strate that she’s a seri­ous player in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Instead, she looked bet­ter suited to be the next 9th grade class president.

She gave an elo­quent speech. It was full of the rah-rah top­ics that the con­ven­tion atten­dees were look­ing for. It was filled with one lin­ers aimed at the Democ­rats and Pres­i­dent Obama. She even joked about Pres­i­dent Obama’s use of TelePrompTers to give his speeches.  The quip was received with great applause, but it illus­trated how unpre­pared she is to run the country.

Is it smart to draw atten­tion to your opposition’s use of a device for read­ing speeches when you con­stantly refer to your notes dur­ing your speech? Palin’s head was buried in the podium for a lot of the speech so she could remem­ber her next talk­ing point. If you are try­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate your­self from your com­pe­ti­tion, you shouldn’t have a sim­i­lar weak­ness as the one you are point­ing out – espe­cially when yours appears more amateurish.

After the speech, there was a Q&A ses­sion. Nor­mally, this is just a show. The ques­tions are given in advance so the speaker can pre­pare their answers. The key being pre­pare in advance. One of the ques­tions was about her pri­or­i­ties as pres­i­dent. Was Palin ready? Of course she was! She had the five points writ­ten on her hand. Are you seri­ous? You want to be con­sid­ered to be the Pres­i­dent of the United States and you can’t remem­ber your agenda when in office?  

Most peo­ple suf­fer anx­i­ety when hav­ing to speak in pub­lic. To over­come this fear, you need to prac­tice and be famil­iar with your top­ics. Prepa­ra­tion is the key and when you are being paid $100,000 for your appear­ance, you owe it to the orga­ni­za­tion to give them your best.  Is this her best? Are we to believe she will be bet­ter pre­pared three years from now? 

Mayor of Soul

Los Ange­les Mayor Anto­nio Vil­laraigosa per­formed his best soul man imper­son­ation dur­ing the city’s launch event for African-American Her­itage Month. While hon­or­ing Chaka Kahn and Jamie Foxx, Vil­laraigosa swapped his nor­mal speech pat­tern for a black dialect. Maybe he was try­ing to be cool, but when you have to TRY to be cool, you nor­mally end up look­ing like a fool. In this case, Mayor Vil­laraigosa did just that.
While intro­duc­ing Chaka Kahn, Vil­laraigosa said, “She’s received 10 Grammy awards every­body. And a BET life­time achieve­ment awode. By the way, I’m at the BET awards every year held here in Los Ange­les.”
While intro­duc­ing Jamie Foxx, Vil­laraigosa said, “Is there any­thing Jamie Foxx can’t do? Mannnn … I love, I love that con­vo­sa­tion we had in our office a few min­utes ago. Because you know what — don’t think for the moment that this brother couldn’t run for office.”
While attempt­ing to be cool, Mayor Vil­laraigosa embar­rassed him­self, the city he rep­re­sents and offended the black com­mu­nity. Jamie Foxx rec­og­nized Villaraigosa’s approach and spoke in Span­ish dur­ing his accep­tance. Does this make Jamie Foxx look like a fool? Def­i­nitely not because Span­ish is an actual lan­guage. In fact, his knowl­edge of it makes him look even more impres­sive. What Vil­laraigosa was speak­ing was not. Vil­laraigosa was pre­tend­ing to be some­thing he isn’t (black) while appear­ing to be exactly what he is (a fool). If he would like to take a course on pro­to­col I would be more than happy to vol­un­teer my time.

Until next time,


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