Royal Wedding Dos and Don'ts
BY Steven Petrow
April 27 2011 2:15 PM ET
Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s nuptials, while steeped in centuries of tradition, are still precedent-setting in a number of ways — not the least of which is that this is the first time “out” gays have been invited to a British royal wedding. Sir Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, snagged one of the heavily embossed invitations from Buckingham Palace, as did heartthrob Gareth Thomas, who also happens to be the first openly gay professional rugby player. Let’s hear it for the lavender crack in Westminster Abbey’s illustrious doors.
But change brings anxiety, doesn’t it? If manners are supposed to do anything, they’re meant to calm our anxieties — when lorazepam and Xanax aren’t sufficient, that is — by providing a guiding hand through the darkness (or in this case down the long abbey aisle).
In the interest of helping the occasion come off without a hitch, here are some dos and don’ts for Sir Elton and his husband, with a special etiquette advisory for Gareth Thomas. While minding your manners, remember that these cautions apply not only to the royal wedding but also to any ceremony uniting two lovers.
• Be discreet and don’t criticize. It really wasn’t so wise for Sir Elton to share his thoughts on William’s decision to give his fiancée Princess Diana’s blue sapphire and diamond engagement ring. “I thought it was a little odd,” he reportedly told the media.
Real life: If you don’t like a friend’s choice of partner, the best advice is to keep it to yourself — unless you know of a secret life of crime, addiction, or other real menaces.
• Bow to royalty. Although it isn’t exactly butch, Sir Elton should be careful to give a quick bow of the head when greeting Queen Elizabeth. If he needs a quick refresher, this is usually done with a distinct bobbing movement, with the upper body kept straight. As one British manners expert advises, “Nothing too theatrical!”
Real life: Bowing is really about deference, whether to crowned royalty or to your homegrown queen who is about to march down the aisle. Don’t forget that it’s the marrying couple’s day — not yours. Do not outshine the brides or grooms.
• Follow the rules for introductions. When presenting his husband to the queen, Sir Elton should say, “May I present David Furnish, Your Majesty.” That’s basic protocol for presenting “inferiors” to “superiors.”
Real life: This translates into: Introduce exes to your current partner, your partner to your parents, younger people to older folks, a colleague to your boss, and so on. It’s not so difficult, and it’s the polite thing to do.