(by Jennifer Harper, WashingtonTimes.com) – America gets the royal treatment, starting today.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will arrive on Yankee shores aboard a customized Boeing 777 bearing the royal standard, not to mention three tons of baggage, 50 pairs of white gloves, 20 British journalists and an entourage of 35 attendants. Well, after all, it is the queen, and one of the richest women on the planet.
There has been much ado among the citizenry about curtsying and bowing, propriety and protocol.
The Democrats have got it covered, though. By order of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, no commoner can appear before the queen wearing an “I’m With Stupid” T-shirt, a notion which has tickled the British press for days. The state issued an official list of suggested public protocols, and a “royal visit” hot line has buzzed all week.
It could be much ado over some very basic etiquette, though.
“The real secret is simple. Old-fashioned good manners and courtesy are basic when one meets royalty,” said Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, who was chief of protocol of the United States from 1982 to 1989 and accompanied Elizabeth on her state visit during the Reagan administration.
“The queen was perfectly wonderful, thoroughly charming. It rained the whole time, but she was the best sport ever. Never complained,” Mrs. Roosevelt continued. “And as far as curtsying, there are many schools of thought on that. The British accept that we don’t curtsy, but if one feels like it, what’s to stop them?”
“I, as Thomas Jefferson, would not bow to the queen with a flourish, I am sorry to say,” said William D. Barker, an impersonator who portrays the nation’s third president in tricorn hat and waistcoat along the verdant boulevards of Colonial Williamsburg.
“Rules of decorum say that Americans don’t bow to British royalty, and Mr. Jefferson is an American. But if it were, say, July 1, 1776, that would be a different story. We were still British subjects at that time, and the good Mr. Jefferson would have bowed to his queen,” Mr. Barker said.
Beyond the hubbub over bowing, and possibly scraping, the queen remains larger than life, however.
“She still matters, and she is still very relevant. Queen Elizabeth causes us to consider history. Her visit reminds both Americans and British of our shared stories,” said Letitia Baldrige, a manners maven and social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy when she was first lady.
Public affection has increased for Elizabeth, now 81. She enjoys cozy favorability ratings with the American public — increasing from 71 percent to 77 percent, according to several Gallup polls taken in the past five years. Still, visits to the U.S. are relatively rare compared with visits to Britain’s other former colonies. During her reign, the queen has made 23 jaunts to Canada and 15 to Australia — but only four to the U.S. — in 1957, 1976, 1983 and 1991.
The queen is more than a mere hand-waving royal in the celebrity landscape. Almost two decades of excruciating news media examination of family secrets and travails has given her wider personal dimensions. She has become a hands-on family matriarch. “The Queen,” a recent film about her reaction to the death of another royal celebrity, Princess Diana, won an Oscar for actress Helen Mirren and underscored the new identity.
Elizabeth has made some era-sensitive gestures as well, earning her the title “Green Queen” in some cheeky British tabloids. The monarch will offset her so-called “footprint” from the carbon emissions generated by her journey here on a private jet. A historic first, the bill for her ride was calculated at about $20,000, which likely will be allocated to plant new trees, according to the British Department for Transport.
The official portrait to commemorate this week’s visit was taken by uber-hip photographer Annie Leibovitz, who has snapped the likes of Mick Jagger, John Lennon and a nude Demi Moore, among others. Her stately portrayal in crown jewels and finery looks more like something from Dutch artist Jan Vermeer than the cover of Rolling Stone.
“It’s a documentation, and I wanted to take a very simple portrait,” Miss Leibovitz said earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth continues to pack a certain punch, born for her historic stature and the undeniable sense of occasion she inspires wherever she goes.
“It will be a great moment in the life of the college, and an unparalleled thrill for our students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Gene R. Nichol, president of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, who will play host to the monarch — albeit briefly — tomorrow afternoon.
Copyright 2007 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the Washington Times. This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization. Visit the website at www.washingtontimes.com
1. Define the following words as used in the article:
curtsy, bow, propriety, protocol (para. 3)
etiquette (para. 5)
[rules of] decorum (para. 10)
bowing and scraping (para. 11)
2. a) How many times has Queen Elizabeth visited the U.S.?
b) In what years did she visit?
3. What do rules of decorum say about bowing to British royalty?
4. Why does Letitia Baldrige say Americans should regard Queen Elizabeth as relevant?
5. a) Although not required, would you bow (guys) or curtsy (girls) if you met the Queen? Why or why not?
b) Ask your parents and grandparents if they every bowed or curtsied and if so, describe the occasion.
View a photo gallery of Queen Elizabeth at msnbc.msn.com/id/12394061/displaymode/1107/s/2/
During her visit, Queen Elizabeth will attend Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Go to TV station WLKY for information on the Queen’s visit to the Kentucky Derby.
Read “Etiquette Fit For The Queen” at WLKY.
For information on the British monarchy, go to royal.gov.uk.