The Royals were in town, and I was surprised to find myself so charmed by the news. A celebrity follower I am not—okay, maybe of one of two–nor do I tend to keep up with the latest on the British Monarchy. But I do follow the news, where royal family members occasionally make appearances, even on this side of the Atlantic. Fortunately, for the most part in recent years the press seems less focused on scandal and more on joyous life occasions. That’s obviously a result of the attention on William and Kate’s courtship, their sanctioned marriage, and the birth of their first child. They made the news in the city last week during their three days of sightseeing and fundraising.
When I heard they would be attending an intimate dinner with some fifteen couples, I had a sudden whimsical thought. In fact, I guess you could call it my Cinderella moment. What if I could attend that dinner? And what if I was seated right next to Kate, I mean the Duchess? As I was imagining myself meeting her, I realized I had no idea of the proper etiquette for socializing with royals. Would I need to curtsy or bow?
A little online research revealed that neither was necessary. According to the official website of the British Monarchy, no obligatory code of behavior is required when meeting a member of the Royal Family. However, some continue to carry out past traditions with women making a small curtsy, and men, a neck bow. As for verbal etiquette, the first address for female Royal Family members should be “Your Royal Highness.”
So, here is my royal fantasy. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Royal Highness,” I say. “I hope you are enjoying our city.” She, who certainly seems very gracious, would comment on how much she is loving the city and how hospitable New Yorkers have been, etc. After our tourist and New York chat, I’d say something about her dress, which would undoubtedly be designer, tasteful and exquisite. She would tell me some little tidbit about the designer, and then, out of politeness she might even comment on my dress.
It’s hard to imagine just what I would be wearing–nothing currently in my closet would quite cut it and besides you want to be well put together when meeting royalty–but most likely something like a dress from www.renttherunway.com or something borrowed and/or vintage. If such an exchange were to take place, I’d be tickled pink and on cloud nine to have been complemented by a Royal Fashionista.
Hopefully, over the course of dinner, we would develop a warm rapport, and move beyond social pleasantries, on to more personal subjects. She is five months pregnant, so I would ask how she is faring after the trans-Atlantic travel and time zone differences, and then switch to more pleasant topics for an expectant mother. “Are you having any particular food cravings? Can you feel your child moving?” But I would be curious about morning sickness and heartburn.
Next we could speak about motherhood and her young son Prince George, who is almost 18 months. “Is he going to be a chatterbox?” “What was his first word?” Of course, I would want to ask if she nursed the young Prince and what the Palace thinks about breastfeeding royal offspring.
I would have to ask about Queen Elizabeth, her great mother-in-law. “How is the Queen with her great-grandson? She must have a very special connection with him. Does he have a nickname for her, like Nana or Mimi?” But I would actually be wondering if the Queen engages in games of peek-a-boo and paddy cake with her grandson. It’s hard to imagine her letting her hair down and I can’t imagine her being much of a cuddler.
I’d also want to inquire about family life. “I am wondering how you balance motherhood, your stately duties and your marriage.” I’m particularly curious about Prince William’s caregiving skills. “Does he actually change the young Prince’s diapers?” Naturally, we would like to think that he does but that would mean that the probable heir to the British throne would be cleaning up after his son, who is likely to be the second next in line for the throne. When you think about it that way, you realize that diapering may not part of his fatherly duties.
I’d be dying to ask how their sex life was faring between a toddler and second pregnancy. Another big question would be what Royals fight about. For some reason, I think that family might be a “sensitive” topic?
Finally, I’d broach the subject of princesses. Kate’s official title is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. The palace opted not to give her the official status of princess. Yet, because William’s title is Prince William of Wales, and Kate is the wife of a Royal Prince, she also retains the title Her Royal Highness Princess William of Wales.
Let’s face it, princesses hold a place above duchesses! We learn that at a very young age, as soon as we are old enough to follow fairy tales and watch Disney movies. I wonder how she felt about the Palace withholding that title. Instead, Naturally, I’d stick to safer topics. “When you were young, did you ever imagine yourself as a Royal? Is that something young girls think about in the UK? Your life must have undergone a tremendous transformation in these past few years. I would imagine that it takes time to adjust to such a new life style.”
“Thank you Kate, I mean Your Royal Highness. It has been such a pleasure to have this time with you. I feel honored and you have certainly opened up my eyes to royal life. Before you move onto to the many guests waiting to speak with you, I just want to say that I think you are doing an tremendous job. You make it look so easy!”