Towards the close of Queen Victoria's reign and throughout that of King Edward there was much less stiffness and formality of intercourse between Sovereign and subject than had been the custom previously.
Our Royal Family are no sticklers for formality, but they are accustomed to a certain routine, and it is more comfortable and convenient that all concerned should be acquainted with it.
Formal presentation to the Sovereign at Court on some ceremonious occasion is so regulated by officials that the individual presented has no difficulty whatever in knowing what to do. Every step is guided. Hence it is impossible to do the wrong thing.
But it happens sometimes that a presentation is informally made. The things to remember in such cases are few in number. The first is that a deep bow is made by a man, a courtesy by a woman. A man holds his hat in his hand throughout the interview. He also takes off his right glove. But in no circumstances is a woman expected to unglove when in the presence of Majesty.
Should the Royal person enter into conversation with the individual presented, the latter must be careful to refrain from originating any topic, but must confine himself to replying, with restraint and brevity, to the observations addressed to him. In doing so he should refrain from repetition of the words "Your Majesty." "Sir" is the correct word, usually pronounced at the end-of any response made.
Should the Royal person shake hands, a deep bow is made by the subject, if a man. A woman makes one of those curious Court courtesies which consist in a swift bending of the knees without bending the head, and an equally swift return to an upright position. It is not always an easy thing to do, for one must not press in any way upon the Royal hand, but must keep one's own at the level of the latter. This courtesy is quite different from that made by ladies presented at a Court. It is the salutation made by the ladies who have a position in the palaces, and is also the courtesy made by all women who receive recognition from Royalty.
In the same way as the King is addressed as "Sir," the Queen is spoken of as "Ma'am." The foreign mode of saying " Majesty" instead of " Your Majesty " has come to the front a little of late. Other members of the
Royal Family are addressed as "Prince " and "Princess," and occasionally "Your Royal Highness."
As a nation, the English do not bow gracefully. There are exceptions, of course, but, as a rule, men either half-bow or else bend till the upper part of their body makes a right angle with the lower, and this with a suddenness which is almost alarming.
Even graceful women do not always bow gracefully. But to bow ungracefully is better than not to bow at all or to bestow a stiff little nod such as is entirely out of place from subject to Sovereign. When an interview with Royalty is finished, the subject makes a deep bow, and retires without turning the back upon the Royal personage.
When the King consents to unveil a memorial, lay a foundation stone, open a public building, or any other function of a similar character, his Majesty is respectfully begged to fix a date and the hour.
Every precaution having been taken that things should go without a hitch during the ceremony, his Majesty would be met on his arrival by the mayor and other prominent officials of the town, and perhaps by the lord-lieutenant of the county. Permission would have been obtained beforehand for the presentation of an address, and a copy of it would have to be forwarded previously to his Majesty. This is necessary in order to prevent the insertion of any words or allusions that might prove unpleasing to the King.
No previous permission is needed for presenting a bouquet to the Queen or any other Royal lady.
It is usual for the Royal person at these functions to command that a few of those connected with the matter in hand shall be presented to him. This is done by the mayor, and all those presented unglove the right hand, if they have not already done so.
When the Sovereign is entertained at a banquet the arrangement of seats is left to the discretion and savoir faire of the hosts. On one occasion of the kind the King and Queen sat under a canopy and all round them were members of their family.
Toasts are drunk without speeches, some very high functionary such as the Lord High Steward proposing the health of the Monarch. Royalty, with excellent taste, leaves every detail to be arranged by the entertainers, whose only difficulty is that of precedence, always difficult, and becoming more involved with every year and the multiplication of posts and dignitaries.
In a later article the etiquette of private visits, of Court balls and concerts, of private dinners, with particulars of. the correct dress for all occasions in connection with Royalty, will be dealt with.