Monday, September 12, 2016

Etiquette Above the Salt

A royal salt holder — In medieval times, due to its scarcity, salt was extremely expensive and only affordable by those in the higher ranks of society. At that time, royalty and nobility sat at the 'high table' while the commoner servants sat at lower, trestle tables. Salt was placed in the center of the high table. Only those of rank had access to the salt. Those less favored, and of lesser rank on the lower tables, were below, or beneath, the salt.
The proposed visit of the Infanta Eulalia of Spain to this country has given rise to a pretty exhibition of Court etiquette. She and her husband, Prince Antony, were to be the guests of the United States government, but in proffering hospitality, the mistake was made of intimating that the Duke of Veragua would be included in the company. This was quite too much for Spanish notions of propriety. 

A person of royal blood to sit with a mere nobleman, and have the salt between them on equal terms — never! A Monarchical guest must take separate treatment to sustain her dignity; to hobnob with an inferior is tantamount to insult. So the Infanta gets out of this disparaging predicament by undertaking to pay her own expenses, an independent course which may grieve this country the less inasmuch as Congress has not appropriated a dime for her august entertainment. — New York Herald, 1883

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