I really wasn’t in the mood to read or comment on the dozens of comments people submitted in response to the prior “But Kate and Will Did It!” post of last week but will do so now.
Addendum: I forgot to add that people really need to read the blog carefully. Nowhere did my post say that the Middleton family was not invited to the evening reception. It was Middleton *guests* that had been at the wedding earlier but not invited to the evening reception.
1. The difference between a glitch and a faux pas. A glitch is something that is unforeseen, a bump in the execution no one could have predicted. Ants marching up the legs of a buffet table to decorate a wedding cake is a glitch, a horse freaking out is a glitch. A faux pas is a choice one makes to pursue a particular action that ends up being the wrong decision. Choosing to exclude certain ceremony guests from a reception is a faux pas.
2. Many of you mention ” protocol” as if it were synonymous with “etiquette”.
pro·to·col – The official procedure governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.
Protocol includes etiquette but etiquette may not include protocol. Protocol is the specific guidelines for diplomatic and state occasions. I have never claimed to be a protocol expert which is a completely different arena of etiquette. Were I invited to a White House State Dinner, I would have to read up on the protocol before attending.
It has been said repeatedly in the US and UK press that the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was NOT a state function given that William is not the next heir to the throne. That it was not a state event was the reason given for why former Prime Ministers Blair and Brown and President Obama and his wife were not invited to the wedding.
This wedding, unlike that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, is not a state occasion because William is not first in line to the throne and “so there is no protocol reason to invite former Prime Ministers,” Nick Loughran, a spokesman for Prince William, said in a statement emailed to msnbc.com.
It cannot follow then that certain decisions with regards to excluding guests from ceremony and receptions and sending them etiquette guides is part and parcel of the whole state protocol wedding. As the article cited above stated, “So it’s simply the marriage of two young people in love, in front of 1,900 family and friends.”
At least one blog commenter was inaccurate when she claimed that US presidents are only invited to royal state weddings. Incorrect. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were invited to the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana, which was a state wedding, but also to the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson which was not a state wedding.
3. Regarding the etiquette guide. I’ve researched this as much as can be and I can say with certainty that this wedding was the first time etiquette guides were given to guests. One can be assured that those who are royal or rub shoulders with royalty have no need of such a guide. Heads of state have protocol and etiquette staff to advise them of the proper procedures and etiquette in different countries. The etiquette guides were for the common folk who do not interact routinely with royalty and would not know the layers of formal etiquette needed to engage a personage of royal blood. One blog commenter wrote:
Personally I would think it presumptuous of the royal family to expect me to know all the etiquette concerning royalty and a faux pas on their part if they didn’t send me a guide. After all a host should be accommodating to their guests and not expect them to have to research arcane protocol. Considering all the people who haven’t followed all the inane rules and who have felt embarrassed it is good manners to alleviate any potential distress, especially considering all the foreign guests who would have no idea.
This perception pretty much confirms what I wrote previously regarding the Old World’s stratification of society with etiquette being used as a means to place people in classes. The upper classes have no expectation that the lower classes know or even care about high etiquette since the classes would rarely have occasion to intermingle. But when they do, the lower classes must be brought up to speed lest they behave in a way that marks them as being the lower classes denizens that they are. The blog commenter comtinues…
It is odd that you think it a breach of etiquette to guide people in etiquette yet at the same time have an entire website devoted to people and their etiquette faux pas.
The major difference is “PUSH” versus “Pull” guidance. A blog on etiquette is “pull” guidance where readers search for it, choose to read it and “pull” information from it at their discretion. A wedding guide sent to guests is “push” information that is foisted upon guests whether they needed it or not. And I’ll repeat it here again…don’t any American brides even think of attempting this with your guests because I will roast you to BBQ crispness if you do.
4. Yes, English etiquette maven Frances Trollope did publish the book, “Domestic manners of the Americans”, almost 180 years. But those of you who commented appear to miss the point I was making that the UK and the US have very different etiquette and both of them are founded in principles dating back 200 hundred years. Judith Martin aka Miss Manners goes into much greater detailed discussion of this topic in her book, “Star Spangled Manners – In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette (For a Change)” . Read at least the first chapter, “The Pitch – Equality and Dignity, Once and for All”, let me know you have and we can have a lively discussion on the subject in a later blog post.
5. Excluded wedding guests. The argument that the Queen could not accommodate all 1900 ceremony guests to a reception in Buckingham palace is not supported by the evidence. Each year the Queen hosts the Queen’s Garden Parties for up to 8,000 invitees and each November the Queen entertains members of the foreign diplomatic corps which involves opening all the palace state rooms and the royals walking from one end of the state rooms to the other. There was precedent and room to host all 1900 wedding ceremony guests to a reception. As I think more on it, it appears that 1250 of the invited 1900 guests were actually Westminster Abbey “filler”. With cameras showing every angle of the inside of the Abbey, it simply would not do to have over a thousand vacant seats as Kate processed down the aisle. For the sake of a good photo opp, people were invited to be warm bodies filling a huge church but were not deemed suitable to be invited to the palace afterwards. Think about it….wedding guests were not accorded the same courtesy and privilege as those 8,000 invited to a garden party or diplomatic corps. It’s ungracious to treat wedding guests so. Contrast this to the wedding of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece to Marie-Chantal Miller in 1995. The Millers hosted a champagne dinner dance followed by breakfast buffet for 1300 wedding guests at an estate in Kent. The Millers are New York socialites (in other words, Americans with an egalitarian sense of etiquette).
And it bears repeating – US brides, don’t even think of inviting guests to the ceremony but not the reception. I don’t care if William and Kate did it.
6. As for those of you claiming that white bridesmaids dresses are typical in royal weddings, consider the following:
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson – Peach
Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier – Yellow silk organdy
Prince Joachim of Denmark and Marie Chevalier – Lavendar
Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne) and Autumn Kelly (2008) – sage green
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark & Mary (2004) – Pink and fuschia
Crown Prince Phillippe of Belgium and Princess Mathilde (1999) – Burgundy
Viscount Linley (David Armstrong-Jones, son of 1st Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret) and Serena Stanhope (1993) – Silver (doubtlessly the ugliest bridesmaids dresses in royal history)
Prince Maurits of Holland marries Marilene van der Broek (1998) – Baby blue
Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece marries Marie-Chantal Miller (1995) – Baby blue
Crown Prince Wilhelm Alexander of Holland (2002) – Burgundy
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain (2004 – Light yellow
White bridesmaids dresses appear to be typical among Windsor weddings only.