...although, admittedly, I just got to meet Prince Philip and not QEII or any of the offspring. Still, it was quite an experience to visit Buckingham Palace and give my birthday regards to the Duke of Edinburgh.
Please enjoy a narrative of the event, as written by my alter ego Jane Air. For more Jane Air columns, click here.
Jane Visits Buckingham Palace
Your faithful correspondent is reporting from London, her first time on British soil in 20 years! And what did Jane do on her first day back in jolly old England? Why, she went to Buckingham Palace, of course.
It started with a VIP guided tour of the Queen's state rooms, which contain thrones, art and other royal booty. Speaking of royal booty, after the tour, it was off to a reception room to meet a majesty. The royal du jour was Prince Philip (hereafter referred to as PP), the husband of QEII (the Queen, not the ship). Prior to the encounter, the group was given all sorts of etiquette tips. "Address him as Your Royal Highness first, then sir thereafter; bowing is not necessary" yadda, yadda, yadda. But Jane only learned of a few other etiquette rules after experiencing a royal hiccup. Now, mind you, it was only Prince Philip, not the Queen (poor PP, the Rodney Dangerfield of the royal family). And Jane certainly did not pull a Michelle Obama, that is, touching a royal inappropriately (although in Jane's HO, it is extremely difficult for MO to do anything inappropriately). Nevertheless, Jane's unknowing faux pas did provoke a response in the form of a rather bushy royal eyebrow lift (PP could use a little facial man-scaping).
Jane is still a bit flummoxed about the exact nature of her faux pas. Jane will provide a list of possibilities and you can opt for the one you believe to be royally wince-worthy.
It all started when Jane was told it was Prince Philip's 88th birthday. Jane, being the first in her group to shake his hand, immediately opened with "Happy Birthday, Your Royal Highness." Veddy British, veddy proper, or so Jane thought. Her group members, many of whom were quaking in their boots at the prospect of meeting royalty, were quite awed by the rather nonchalant manner with which Jane addressed the prince (imagine "Your Royal Highness" replaced with "dude " and you can conjure the tone). But all her lovely greeting garnered from said prince was that royal eyebrow.
Now, Jane was both bemused and confused by this reaction. How could anyone, particularly a prince, not be taken with Jane and her friendly nature? But later, three possible breaches of etiquette were pointed out, any of which, Jane supposes, might have aroused the royal eyebrow.
#1: The guide asked, after the meeting with the prince, whether anyone had wished him "Happy Birthday." The group gleefully pointed to Jane. A furrow came across the guide's brow (the British brow is quite expressive). He then expounded that the prince didn't like to be reminded that it was his birthday. Upon reflection, Jane believes that perhaps PP is a bit bitter that, while the Queen's actual birthday is in April, it is officially celebrated around the time of his own special day. So, on his real June birthday, all PP gets is a 41-gun salute, while QEII, for her fake June birthday, gets a big old parade.
#2 Someone, in telling of another meeting with a crowned one, pointed out that royals must always speak first in an interaction with a commoner. Putting aside the fact that Jane is no commoner, she would have let PP speak first, if someone had informed her of the rule. But the fact is, Jane blurted out "HB, YRH" before poor Philip could even open his mouth. Jane can imagine that PP, who has played second fiddle to a woman his entire adult life, might have been a bit bothered that he didn't get in the first word in this particular male-female scenario.
#3 As previously mentioned, colleagues were quite impressed with the breezy informality Jane employed whilst saying, "HB, YRH" with a dangling "dude" implied. Thus, Jane pondered that perhaps her tone was the brow-raiser. One imagines PP is not often greeted with a chirpy American casualness, particularly by one as lovely and fashionably-dressed as Jane.
Whether Jane's faux pas was actually #1, #2, or #3 (please feel free to vote), she supposes that there is now no chance that PP will set her up on a blind date with Prince Andrew (remember him?). And that is a royal shame.
Incidentally, dear readers, while you won't meet a royal, you too can visit Buckingham Palace. However, you can only do so if you come to London between 26 July and 30 September. While the Queen and Prince Philip are frolicking at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, commoners are allowed to take self-guided tours at their London abode. Make reservations at www.royalcollection.org.uk.