A royal dinner in Buckingham? Here are the rules of the protocol to know

Published on September 20, 2022 at 2:58 p.m.


A royal dinner in Buckingham? Here are the rules of protocol you need to know – © Pool/Tim Graham Royal Photos/Getty Images

If ordinary mortals are unlikely to be invited to the table of the British monarchy, curiosity does not prevent us from taking a look at the protocol.

Dress code, seating plan and conversations…

At a royal dinner, all aspects of the meal are ruled by protocol. For starters, you can’t go there in pajamas. Dresses and high necklines for women, pants for men… Formal attire is required.

Once ready, go to the reception venue. Above all, be on time. Punctuality is very important to the English and it would not be a question of keeping the King of England waiting.

Before you sit down, check your location. The seating plan, especially during official dinners, is meticulously studied. The people closest to Her Majesty are considered the most “important”. Before the meal is served, the king also begins by engaging in conversation with the people on his right, then the people on his left, once dinner has begun. On the other hand, never engage in conversation with him, wait for him to speak to you first.
You will also notice that the couples are never seated side by side. This, in order to encourage exchanges.

During the meal, hold your knife in your right hand and the fork in your left hand. The food should be deposited on the back of the fork, using the knife. Watch out for scraping noises, they are unsightly to the ear and are perceived as rude. The fork is then brought to the mouth. When you are finished, put the cutlery on the plate provided for this purpose. On the other hand, if you have to slip away for a few minutes, cross them on your plate. This will tell the staff that you haven’t finished dinner.
Besides, you don’t say “I have to go to the toilet” when you have a pressing urge. A simple “excuse me” is enough.

The dinner ends when the king has finished. You will no longer be able to touch your plate once he has laid down his cutlery. Queen Elizabeth II, who used her bag to send messages, put it on the table to signify the end of the meal.

Did you break protocol? Don’t worry, the royal family is quite flexible and it’s happened to many other guests before you. Barack Obama, for example, made the mistake of delivering his speech at the same time as the English national anthem was being played.

The eating habits of the royal family

In addition to these rules, monarchs must also follow many other dietary rules. For example, they are prohibited from consuming seafood or raw meat, especially during their travels, because of the risk of poisoning. Garlic, onion and foie gras were also banned from royal kitchens. The first two, for a matter of breath, and the last, by prohibition of King Charles, strongly committed to the animal cause. Namely that, during her reign, Elizabeth II approved each meal, thanks to a “menu booklet” which was sent to her, sometimes up to three days in advance.

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