Inside Politics

Miss Manners'The Government of Canada's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour (2009 Royal Visit Edition)

So, are we all ready for the upcoming Royal Visit?  And by "upcoming" I mean, like, Monday, which is when the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall -- or, for those of us who get our monarchist on through the British tabloids, Charles and Camilla -- will arrive for a ten day Royal Visit.

I know, it sort of snuck up on me, too, but if you happen to be of the accredited journalistic persuasion -- or even if you're just an enthusiastic loyal subject -- the protocol mavens over at Canadian Heritage have you covered. 

At a pre-visit briefing this afternoon, the government released a 63-page itinerary/media guide that will,  prevent us from accidentally sparking a international incident, whether wardrobe related -- according to the handbook, "smart casual clothing is appropriate" for most events, although it recommends "business attire" for official receptions and dinners -- to breaching the Royal Personal Space by failing to maintain a respectful fifteen foot (4.6 metres) distance"at all times." 

A few other notes: 

  • The Royal Couple must not be embarrassed or inconvenienced by photographers, including official photographers -- the dignity of an official ceremony must not be compromised 

  • During free time, the privacy of the Royal Couple must be respected 

  • It is not permitted to attempt to record private conversations of the Royal Family, including conversations with members of the public during walkabouts. During walkabouts, journalists can follow behind the entourage ot address persons who have met the Royal visitors. Journalists must remain behind the dignitaries at all times. 

  • Their Royal Highnesses do not give interviews during official visits 

  • Continuous photography, especially at close range, should be avoided 

  • The use of camera flashes should be avoided whenever possible and must not be used to close as to distract or disturb guests 

  • Photography is not permitted during meals 
Although the media guide doesn't seem to be available online, the official website for the visit includes a full list of do's and don'ts for anyone who comes face to face with the royal couple, or even -- oh, the pressure -- is in charge of preparing an official dinner. Among the suggestions: 

  • The Queen is called Your Majesty initially and Ma'am (rhymes with jam) as the conversation continues. The Duke of Edinburgh is called Your Royal Highness initially and Sir as the conversation continues. Other members of the Royal Family are called Your Royal Highness initially and Sir/Ma'am as the conversation continues.

  • Meals should generally be limited to a maximum of three courses and not last too long. Not more than an hour and three-quarters should be allowed for a luncheon engagement, of which about one hour fifteen minutes should be allowed for the meal itself and the remainder for arrivals and departures, presentations, signing of visitors' book and retiring periods usually ten minutes before and five minutes after the meal. No more than an hour and three-quarters should be spent at dinner sitting at the table, including speeches.

    Serving a meal at which a Member of the Royal Family is the principal guest always imposes a strain on the catering system and almost invariably takes longer than hosts may expect. If the first course is cold, it should, if possible, be on the table before the guests sit down, including the head table. It is important to brief the caterers to make sure that there is no undue delay about removing plates from the lingerers when it is obvious that the timing of the meal is falling behind.

  • Neither The Queen nor The Duke of Edinburgh smokes. However, they do not object to smoking by guests at the end of a meal.

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