Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Queen Victoria's Court Etiquette

"The son of Waterloo". The Duke of Wellington as caricatured in Vanity Fair, June 1872

The Queen, the Duke, and the Crown

True politeness has been variously defined. One little boy said it meant “making everybody feel satisfied,” and another, that it was “doing the kindest thing in the kindest way.” I think good Queen Victoria understood and practiced it too, when she spoke so kindly to the old Duke of Wellington at the time the crown fell from his hands.

It was on some grand occasion—perhaps the opening of Parliament—and the whole Court was in attendance. The Duke, then quite an old man, carried the crown on the little cushion used for the purpose, when, backing out, according to Court etiquette, he forgot the little step at the foot of the throne, stumbled, and in attempting to regain his foothold, dropped the massive crown from his hands. It came with great violence to the floor, and rolled quite across the hall, badly bruising the diadem, and scattering the costly jewels in every direction.

The old Duke, accomplished courtier as he was, stood for a moment, aghast at the injury inflicted on so precious an article, and then would have stooped to gather up the scattered jewels. But the Queen saw in an instant his evident distress, as well as embarrassment, and rightly judged that he would prefer to be left alone. So, with the genuine kindness of heart and quick perception for which she is remarkable, she stepped gracefully forward, and, offering her hand to the venerable statesman, as if to assist him in rising, said, cordially, “I trust your grace is not hurt; and that you will wholly have recovered from the unpleasant shock by the morning.” Then, without a glance at crown or jewels, and apparently quite unaware of the casualty, she passed out, the Court following, and the Duke was left to recover his equanimity, and collect the scattered jewels at his leisure.

How grateful he must have felt for this graceful consideration on the part of his Sovereign : and how beautiful the model, not only of true politeness, but of genuine Christian forbearance, that we find in this little incident. It is by such acts of thoughtful kindness that England's gentle Queen has enthroned herself in the hearts of her subjects; and the tourist in England seldom hears the name of Victoria called by Prince or peasant, without being coupled with expressions of the highest veneration and warmest affection. – Christian Weekly, 1872

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