Saturday, March 5, 2016

Court Etiquette vs Courtesy

Elisabeth of Austria, was the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I, and thus Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Queen Consort of Croatia and Bohemia.


Court Etiquette and Poor Hospitality

The London correspondent of Figaro accounts for the failure of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria to visit the Queen at Windsor on her return from her fox-hunting expedition to Ireland. Whether true or not, the story is at least interesting. 


A year ago, when the Empress' visit to London drew near its close, she went to Windsor one wintry Sunday to make a farewell call on Queen Victoria. According to the etiquette of the court, the hour of her arrival and departure had been announced beforehand. One of the royal carriages awaited her at the station and took her up to the castle through a driving snow storm. The visit over, the Empress took her departure at the prescribed time and was not asked to remain, although the storm had increased in fury. 

Such an invitation would have been only an act of common politeness for common people, but it would have violated the canons of court etiquette. On the way back to the station, one of the horses slipped and fell, causing a delay of some minutes, during which the sharp whistle of the train reached the ears of the Empress. The station was reached too late. In any other class of society the disagreeable situation would have been remedied by the return of the traveler to her hostess, but etiquette forbade counting on the royal hospitality under such circumstances. So the Empress stayed at the station, warming her feet at the fire in the station-master's little parlor, and satisfying her hunger with a share of the family dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. 

The Empress Elizabeth is not a woman to be annoyed by such trifling accidents as missing the train and being thrown on the hospitality of a poor railroad official, but she preserves a little feeling of spite against Queen Victoria for not sending the carriage back to take her to the castle when she learned of the affair, and for never troubling herself to inquire about the end of the adventure. 

It is said that her Imperial Majesty has made a vow never to set her foot in Windsor Castle again, and that she declined an invitation to the wedding of the Duke of Connaught in terms too curt to be courteous. — The Pacific Appeal, 1879

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