Thursday, April 25, 2019

Etiquette at Athen’s Baby Ball

Neither King or Queen took part in the dance, but the Princes and Princesses did and seemed to enjoy tbe Ball as much as any of the children. Of course they had to pay strict attention to the rules of etiquette in choosing their partners, only the members of distinguished families being eligible. – Pictured above, Queen Olga, or “Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia, Queen of the Hellenes” Photo source, Pinterest

The Baby Ball at Athens, Part 2
Attended by Children Invited by the King and Queen – A Night at the Royal Palace – How the Ball is Conducted – 
Little Princes and Princesses

The King and Queen sat in chairs, covered with canopies. Presently the Master of Ceremonies, no other than one of the cabinet ministers, gave a signal and the Royal orchestra struck up the opening polka which is a favorite dance among the Greeks. Immediately there was a great clanking of spurs and swords as the officers came forward to ask the little ladies and there older sisters to dance. Many of these officers are present every year, some coming from the ships stationed near Athens, but most of them belonging to the standing army. You can imagine how proud the little girls are to be led out by one of these splendid men in uniforms, brilliant with silver bands and cordons. And now you see why I thought the little Greek boys did not have as good a time as their sisters! Although I had learned to dance very nicely in America, I had great trouble at this ball, not because the steps were difficult, they were just the same as ours, but because of the way they danced them. For instance, in the waltz they only turn one way, and never reverse, and they turn about three times as fast as we did. The result was I soon got very dizzy, and once or twice nearly fell to the floor. The little Greek girls, however, did not seem to mind a bit and whirled about perfectly happy. With them, dancing is a second nature and they seem to know the most difficult steps instinctively from babyhood. Besides that, they have private dancing masters to make them perfect in all the movements. 

A charming scene it was as all these black-haired, dark-eyed little gentlemen and ladies whirled about to the inspiring music, while King George, Queen Olga, and all the grand people of the Court looked on in smiling approval. There are very few fair haired girls in Athens, a child with golden curls being regarded almost as a curiosity. Many of the girls are pretty, and all of them are graceful, but tbey are sure to grow up stout like their mothers, and to fade while they are yet young. Most of them are clever linguists, speaking French and other languages fluently, but few of them, or even their parents, can read the ancient Greek, which is very different from that spoken today. While the children dance tbe King conversed with his Ministers or with guests of importance and the Queen sat in the midst of the ladies of the Court, often pausing in her talk to bestow a smile or a kind word upon some little child who would never forget this mark of favor. King George, being a German by birth, and consequently fair, does not look at all like a Greek. On this occasion, he wore his cavalry uniform, which was almost completely covered with stars and crosses.

Neither King or Queen took part in the dance, but the Princes and Princesses did and seemed to enjoy tbe Ball as much as any of the children. Of course they had to pay strict attention to the rules of etiquette in choosing their partners, only the members of distinguished families being eligible. Among all the Princesses, my favorite was the Princess Marie, who seemed always so good natured and unaffected. She was only a young girl at this time and as fond of romping about the gardens as any of us. One day a friend of mine chanced to be walking in the royal grounds when the Princess, knowing her by name, came running up, her face all aglow and said: “I want you to write your name in my birthday book. Mademoiselle; to-day is my fete, and I want to know when yours comes.” My friend glanced at the book, and saw that the signature of the Prince of Wales was in the line directly above where she would have to write. His birthday chanced to come on the same day as her own. Rather embarrassed, my friend hesitated to comply with the request. “But Princess,” she said, “I have no pencil.” “Never mind,” said Princess Marie, “I will get you one from papa's study.” With this, the Princess went running back into the palace and presently came flying down the steps again, her hair tossed and tumbled, the perfect picture of simplicity and kindliness. In her hand, she carried a long pencil which she held out to my friend, saying: “Here it is, now you can write your name.”

Brightest among all the dancers at the ball and most lovely, so it seemed to me, was the Princess Marie as she danced in the cotillion which began at one o'clock and ended the ball. It was led by the Crown Prince Constantin, who. being heir to the throne, has been brought up entirely among the Greeks, and belongs to the Greek church. Like his father he is quite stout, and resembles the Germans more than the people be will he called upon to rule. Among the other royal dancers in the cotillion was the Princess Alexandra,who, about a year later, made the first love match among the royal children when she was betrothed to the Grand Duke Paul of Russia. She, too, is a decided blonde. The cotillion lasted until two o’clock, and then all these proud little girls and boys kissed each other good night, and were bundled on home by their mamas and chaperons, very happy in the memory of a pleasure that marked an epoch in their lives. Mabel Moffett, Los Angeles Herald, 1895

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

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