Tuesday, February 26, 2019

On Perfecting Royal Etiquette Points

Clearly, New Yorkers dropped the ball with regard to hosting her Highness properly and with the expected etiquette, when she was in New York. 

Giving points to Chicago – Commander Davis Instructs Mrs. Potter Palmer
He explains in detail how the Infanta shall be received, and whom she may, and may not meet — New Yorkers made some bad mistakes, he says, because of their ignorance of etiquette — A Manual of Manners by the President’s Personal Representative

Commander Charles Henry Davis, United States Navy, representing the President of the United States near the person of Infanta Eulalia, spent a very busy day yesterday with his correspondence. Several of the letters he wrote were of some importance. One was to Mrs. Potter Palmer of Chicago telling her how to behave when she received the Princess. The letter is as follows:

“Out of consideration to American customs and the objection in this country to traveling on Sunday, her Royal Highness will leave for Chicago on Monday instead of on Sunday, as previously arranged, and will arrive at Chicago one day later. This will make some change in the programme arranged for her reception. I have promised the Mayor of Chicago and others that you should have the honor of giving the first reception to her Royal Highness. I have telegraphed the Mayor asking him to consult with you as to the order of how entertainment for the first few days will take place. Will you and the Mayor and Mr. Higginbotham arrange among yourselves, so that the programme may be perfectly clear when we arrive?

“I'll have also to request that there be no entertainments upon the hour of her arrival. Her Highness suffers a great deal from fatigue, and has to be very careful not to overexert, and I'm afraid she will find the long railroad journey so tedious that she will not be fit to take part in a big function immediately after her arrival. With this single restriction I leave the matter entirely in the hands of yourselves. With regard to your customs, I should say that you might ask as many people to your reception as you think ought to be presented to her Highness. The mere fatigue of receiving people is not serious, but you will, of course, provide an apartment to which her Highness can retire at any moment. If she feels tired she would not hesitate to exercise her prerogative of privacy.

“At the reception given by the Spanish colony here in New York the Prince and Princess stood on a platform raised about six inches above the floor and with a couple of armchairs behind them. I do not consider this at all obligatory upon you, and it might be considered as contrary to our own customs. You can do just as you please about this. Her Highness is sensible enough to take things in this country as she finds them. You should meet the Infanta at the door of your own house. I will explain this better by word of mouth.

“Will you kindly warn the good people of Chicago that when they are presented, they are presented to her husband as well, who stands by her side and who is a Prince of Royal blood? People when presented should bow to each. They have made the mistake here in New York of almost ignoring the Prince and greeting the Princess alone. The Princess will not shake hands except with persons that she knows or whom she desires to meet. The formality of presentation consists simply in calling the name of the people as they advance, who then bow and pass on, avoiding, if possible, turning their backs to their Royal Highnesses.

“You would naturally make the presentation in your own house. This could be done through me if you so desire. After the formal reception a supper should be provided at a separate table, and a separate room, for the Royal party. This table might accommodate twenty or thirty people, to be named by you. The members of her own suite always sit with her in this country, and I can give you a few words of instruction on the relative importance and the proper places for them to sit at the table when I meet you.

“If her Highness insisted upon the etiquette to which she is accustomed at home, a reception to her in an American home would be a simple impossibility. You can easily understand that it is an utter impossibility for a lady in so conspicuous a position as that of her Royal Highness to meet and know all of the persons in the city who would like to know her, or even are entitled to know her. So I would advise you to make the list of those for whom you desire a special presentation as exclusive as possible.” — The New York Times, 1893

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

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