by, Jo Carol Hebert
Bar the castle doors! Shut the tapestry drapes! Pull up the drawbridge . . . !
Queen Elizabeth the First (reigned 1558-1603) was the last of five monarchs of the Tudor family dynasty. She especially delighted in vacationing from the familiar halls of the palace to the country estates of her royal Lords and Ladies. (Of course, the local hotels would never do).
The Queen’s Lord Chamberlain would notify the impending honor of ‘HRM’ (Her Royal Majesty’s) visit to her royal courtiers. The ‘impending’ part of the announcement could mean that ‘HRM’ would arrive in a matter of ‘days’. Usually, unless rich and titled beyond measure, this dubious honor would strike a note of terror in the hearts of the honored hosts. Because they knew that a Queen does not travel alone.
A Few Extras on the Guest List
Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, musicians, doctors, jesters and dozens of other ‘essential’ peoples stuffed in carriages a mile long are seen through the velvet-curtained windows of the horrified host. The visit would include the entire persons of the Queen’s household – servants and their servants- and the whole Privy Council of the British Isles, more than 300 souls, to be fed, housed, and entertained (including horses!)
Sir Thomas Egerton
This royal courtier’s estate at Harefield was given the ‘honor’ of hosting the Royal visit for three days in 1602. After dozens of lobsters, 624 chickens, 48,000 bricks for buildings, new ovens, and a cost of money that would be equivalent to $12,000,000 today, the poor man almost went to the ‘poor house’! But, the effort proved profitable to his prestige and social standing.
Another noble given the dubious privilege of housing the Queen hid behind the curtains when she came and pretended to be absent, preferring the consequences of disfavor or banishment to the depleting of his bank.
The Protocols of Entertaining a Queen
First, the Lord Chamberlain, the Queen’s Advisor and Arranger of All Things Royal, draws up the initial list of people, places, dates of visitations and informs the honorees.
Then the ‘LC’ organizes and makes a chart of the ‘levels of sleeping arrangements’. (One cannot sleep on a level above his royal ranking). For example, a mere Baron or Baroness cannot sleep above an Earl and his Countess, who cannot sleep above a Duke and his Duchess – a most crucial point, indeed! If there is not enough room for the whole entourage, then the host must erect new buildings to appropriately accommodate the privileged crowd.
The Rest of the Extravaganza . . .
After the lodgings are secured, then the real expenditures begin. Endless gourmet meals with meat and mead are a must. Animals are rounded up from miles around, although the Queens’ personal chefs will do the cooking. Enormous wood piles for fuel are needed. Lawns are manicured to perfection. Fanfare, trumpeters, plays, and pageants are organized. Compliments and flattery are practiced as an art. Gifts are showered upon the guests like rain on thirsty plants.
Long Live the Queen!
After days, weeks, or even months, the Queen departs (hopefully happily) to the next household frenzied behind the scenes. But, all in all, those graced by the Royal Presence, having followed the protocol of the visitation, reap the security and rewards of remaining in the favor of their most esteemed and beloved Queen.
Hope you enjoyed this GTK (Good to Know information for the next time you dine with a Queen).
And here are some really fun books about having ‘tea-time’ with royalty.
- The Queen Is Coming To Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding, Author; Constanze von Kitsing, Illustrator. (2017). Ages 4-8.
- May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Author; Bene Montresor, Illustrator. (1971). Ages 4-8.
- The Queen Who Came to Tea. Original narrative and art by Helen Bradley. (1978). Older readers. Oil painting illustrations depicting childhood in the 1900s.
Some countries of the world do still have full or partial ‘monarchies’ where a King or Queen is the Head of the Government.
Imagine ‘having tea with the Queen’ and take the ‘Royal Etiquette’ Quiz
True or False?
- To leave the table to go to the bathroom, cry out, “gotta go” and run.
- After receiving an invitation, you should first run to your friends and brag.
- You can ask the Queen personal questions.
- You should bring a gift.
- When you meet the Queen, you can hug her.
- You should address the Queen as ‘Your Majesty’.
- You must butter your bread one bite at a time.
- You can eat shrimp.
- Your napkin must be on your lap.
- You can answer your cell phone at the table.
- If Pizza is served, you can eat with your hands.
- You can’t drink water with your food.
1. F Ask politely to be excused from the table.
2. F You must R.S.V.P. (French: ‘repondez, s’il vous plait’/respond, if you please). Reply to an invitation, to let them know you are coming.
3. F Never. Only speak when you are spoken to.
4. T Always (and not from the $ store.)
5. F Like, NEVER even touch a Queen. (One American First Lady patted her on the back!)
6. T Never use her first name.
7. T Never butter your whole piece of bread.
8. F Probably NEVER. The Royal family does not eat ‘shellfish” as “too dangerous”.
9. T Absolutely! (If it falls on the floor – well, you’re on your own)
10. ?????? What do YOU think!
11. F Big ‘NO-NO’. Cut one piece at a time with a fork and knife.
12. F But, you have to chew your food one bite at a time and swallow first.