Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Etiquette, Kings and Crowns

Would the British government propose to forbid the presentation of "Hamlet," on the ground that it is exceedingly disrespectful to the Danish monarchy?

In the line of international courtesies nothing quite so queer has recently broken loose as the decree of the British Lord Chamberlain, excluding Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" from the London stage. 

At the top notch of this scale of obeisance to the powers that foreign be, we admire or wonder at this ridiculous British nobleman and censor, while at the bottom of the grade one remembers with almost equal amusement the free and easy and wholly unterrified fashion in which the late Mr. Paul Neumann — beloved of Bohemians — personally conducted King Kalakaua and steered his royal and sometimes uncertain footsteps among the pitfalls of California etiquette in the roaring eighties. His Royal Highness simply could not go wrong while Mr. Neumann headed the procession and made way for his Majesty among the thronging curious like a herald without his tabard, and gayly calling, "This way; king!

It is a far cry from San Francisco to London, and it seems as if our ideas and those that rule the British stage are quite as wide apart. To be sure, the Lord Chamberlain's ideas are by no means of universal acceptance among his countrymen, but the British have to stand for those ideas, just the same. An irreverent Irish member of parliament has been amusing himself by pursuing to their logical conclusion the noble censor's ideas. He inquires, for example, whether the government proposes to forbid the presentation of "Hamlet," on the ground that it is exceedingly disrespectful to the Danish monarchy.

At the bottom of the whole fuss there is, of course, an inarticulate sense that a modern King is a spectacle under the most favorable circumstances. The Kings of today are ashamed to wear their crowns even on state occasions and have them borne on a cushion. Edward VII has a crown that weighs twelve pounds, and he has too much sense to wear it if it can be avoided. — San Francisco Call, 1907

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

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