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What to do at a Royal Visit

Kings and Queens: what to do at a Royal Visit

By Duena Acacia de Navarre

Your attending an event and it is a Royal Visit. There are people with big silver pointy hats, how are you supposed to act around them? Even worse, what do you do if they hold court and your name is called up?


Showing respect to the crown is one of the basic doctrines of our society. Mundanely the crown has few powers, but in the game they are the rulers of our society and this power is based in our respect and belief in them. Playing up the respect for the crown helps create the atmosphere of medieval courts which was central to the lives of the people we are recreating.

How do you show respect for the crown?

One of the first steps is to show respect for the royal presence. If you are near to their majesties at an event, acknowledge them. This does not have to be too elaborate, just a small bow of the head or small curtsy is enough. The royal presence is not just the persons wearing the crowns, but also the thrones or high table. For example, the royal presence is approximately about 3 - 4 meters. Therefore if you pass in front of the thrones or the high table (even if the King and Queen are not sitting there) then it is a sign of respect to give a bow or a curtsy as you pass by.


Secondly, show them the courtesy due their rank, for example, open the door for them; make way for them if they are walking through a crowd, if they are standing behind you in a line, allow them to jump ahead of you; and if they are carrying things, offer to help. This is a chance for you to show how polite and courtly your manners are, play it up as much as possible.


Thirdly, address them correctly. The King and Queen are addressed as 'your Majesty', if they are the Royal Prince and Princess (i.e. they have won a crown tournament but have not yet been crowned) are addressed as 'your Royal Highness'. Other common titles and how to address them:

  • Dukes and Duchesses: 'your Grace'
  • Count and Countesses: 'your Excellency'
  • Baron and Baronesses: 'your Excellency'

 

Lastly, they don't bite, you can talk to them - if you see them alone, go up and introduce yourself, ask them how they are enjoying the event, etc. The people wearing the crowns are interested in the welfare of the SCA and the people who share their interests, otherwise they would not have fought for the crown. So if there is an opportunity, talk to them and share your interests in the society.

Courts

It is always scary when first you get called up into court. What do you do, when do you bow etc. There are a few things to remember when you go up in court, but after that it is fairly easy and there is always the herald to help you.

Before going into court

Are you wearing a sword or rapier? Unless you are a knight or Don then it is polite to remove a sword or rapier before going up in court. If you are at a tournament and in armour then it is polite to remove your helmet before going into court. If there is a problem with removing your helmet, then when you approach the thrones apologise and explain why you were unable to remove it (keep the explanation brief).

Entering into court

You can enter court from any side, whatever is easiest for you to access, however to be totally polite and courteous then it is best to enter from the front of court. There should always be a pathway open at the front of court for this purpose.

 

Remember you are entering the royal presence, so at about 3 meters from the throne it is best to pause, either bow or curtsy to acknowledge the royal presence and then proceed towards the thrones and kneel before the King and Queen.

 

You will notice there are some cushions and usually a nice carpet in front of the thrones, these are not for the King and Queen to rest their feet on, they are there for you to kneel on, so please use them (you will find it so much more comfortable).

 

If you have problems kneeling (or getting back up again) then it is ok to stand in the presence of the royalty. When you approach the throne just apologise briefly and ask if you can stand, this request is always granted. The King's or Queen's guard may even offer you a chair to sit on, please use this.

Leaving the court

Once your business in the court is finished you can stand. Remember you are still in the royal presence so it is impolite to turn your back on the throne, so back up a couple of steps, then bow (acknowledging that you are leaving the royal presence) and then turn and walk out of court.

 

Court and royalty are part of the theatre of our society, play it up, make a beautiful bow, show all your best manners - See, it is not that difficult after all.