Monday, October 3, 2016

Etiquette When Emperors Meet

The Hohenzollerns have always been distinguished for their contempt of the stage trickeries of royalty. They have from the earliest days been devoting themselves to facts in this world. Not so, however, with the Hapsburgs. They have always been stern defenders of etiquette. There is no ruling family which has been more devoted to the artificialities of the purple than they. 


The Rules for Emperors

"For two men of the ordinary grade to meet for the transaction of business is ordinarily a very simple matter. In that case there is nothing to do but fix the time and place, walk in, shake hands and go to work. With Emperors, however, it is a different thing. Imperious etiquette must be satisfied beforehand on a great many points which to general mankind appear to be not only trivial but absurd. 


Every motion has to be satisfactorily settled before the royal personages can come together. There must be no doubt as to which is to be the host and which the guest — which is to advance to meet the other; the manner in which salutations are to be exchanged; the extent to which personal freedom is to be allowed; how they are to be seated and how they are to be got off the stage when the interview comes to an end. 

Before that extraordinary pageant was enacted at Versailles, in which the King of Prussia assumed the title and insignia of Emperor of Germany, he could have no speech with Francis Joseph unless he had previously kissed his hand in token of submission and inferiority. The two Emperors are now on an equality. Francis Joseph has been expelled from Germany and William reigns there in his stead. It is clear that if there is to be hand-kissing now, the operation will have to be mutual, if such, indeed, be possible — that one cannot sit on a higher seat than the other — that there must be equality in ceremony and equality in general demeanor. 

The telegraph has not informed us of the cause of the delay in the meeting of the two Emperors; or of the secret of the evident coyness of the Austrian Potentate, or of the reason of the change from Gastein to Salsenburg, as the telegraph gives the name, but probably correctly Salzburg, but we have but little doubt that it was something of the weighty character above set forth that was at the bottom of it.

Not that we think that Kaiser William is at all a stickler for such trivialities. Rugged old soldier that he is he probably, if he had his own way, would have preferred to stride into the place designated for the interview, with a military attendant or two, shake Frances Joseph by the hand, deposit his iron helmet on the table and proceed to business without further fencing.

The Hohenzollerns have always been distinguished for their contempt of the stage trickeries of royalty. They have from the earliest days been devoting themselves to facts in this world. Not so, however, with the Hapsburgs. They have always been stern defenders of etiquette. There is no ruling family which has been more devoted to the artificialities of the purple than they. The ceremony at the Austrian Court is as rigid, and unbending as in the palace of the brother of the Sun and the Moon at Pekin, for it not unfrequently happens that when the substance of power has faded away the forms under which it was originally exercised are adhered to with a tenacity all the greater. It is more than likely, therefore, that the coyness which the Austrian Emperor has been exhibiting is to be attributed not so much to any deep political purpose, as to some disagreement in relation to handshaking or bowing.

Be this as it may, it is at least certain that there is some historical significance in the substitution of Salzburg for Gastein. In it is a cave, in the hill in the rear of that city, that old Barbarossa, in German legend, is supposed to have been sitting for centuries past, his red beard grown through the table upon which his elbows rest, sitting there in profound silence waiting for the regeneration of Germany. Can he look down on the strange meeting which is now about to take place and still maintain his stony composure? 


Germany is consolidated now, at least, or nearly so. She will now present as solid a front as when he raised his shield on the Roncalic plains, giving notice to all who passed that way that if aggrieved justice could be obtained by an appeal to him. One thing is certain, if this interview is ever to be transferred to canvas, it is tolerably clear that Kaiser William will be the central figure, no matter how etiquette may now decide, or how rigidly it may provide for Austrian preeminence. It is he who has realized the dream of the red-bearded Emperor, who has so long been waiting for the resurrection of Germany in the gloomy caverns of the hill of Salzburg. (break)" — The Daily Alta, 1871

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia