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Alexandra Messervy founded The English Manner in 2001 after a career working in the Master of the Household’s department for the Royal Household of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Published

22 May 2023

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A selection of principles I learned from my time working in the Royal Household of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that we can all use to add some polish to our daily lives and improve our workplace etiquette.

Politeness gets you everywhere!

You can imagine the many hundreds of letters and emails which the Monarch receives each day. Our rule of thumb in the Royal Households was that each was answered within 24 hours of receipt.  On a busy day, it meant a lot of typing on an electric typewriter in the days before word processors and computers, but it was an edict I have tried to stick to in business throughout my life.  If someone takes the trouble to write about something they believe to be important, then it is only polite to respond with care, thought and speed.  Above all, no matter how trivial the subject may seem to you, be gracious and diplomatic and speedy in your response, even if only to offer an initial holding reply whilst you conduct some research into an issue for a later full response.

Re-use and re-purpose – antiques have stood the test of time for good reason!

Much has been written of the parsimony of the late Queen Elizabeth and now King Charles III.  In these days, where we all face some austerity, it seems to me that their policies of re-wearing beautiful clothes (often remodelled), continuing to furnish residences with antique pieces handed down over generations, as well as fabrics that had been re-purposed from State Rooms perhaps with bits left over, and turning off lights and electrical equipment when not in use, is a useful reminder that no matter how much wealth you may have, it is hugely wasteful to discard items after a short while and not only in monetary terms but also because they are often very beautiful and can be enjoyed and re-used time and time again, often for generations.  Waste not, want not!

Nothing left to chance

No one does pageantry as well as the British – the recent Coronation being the most notable example.  The secret of that across the Royal Family and armed forces is constant planning, rehearsals, and timing to the mini-second to ensure everyone knows their place in the proceedings, and nothing is left to chance.  In everyday life, that can be translated to ensuring you plan outfits the night before, plan your route and time to an event or workplace, prioritise your tasks at home and work and ensure that everyone impacted by you – colleagues, family, friends, know and are part of the planning process.  In that way you will not be late or flustered, you will know exactly what you are doing and when something unexpected occurs you will have much more time and ability to troubleshoot.  Plan plan and plan again.  It works!

Alexandra Messervy founded The English Manner in 2001 after a career working in the Master of the Household’s department for the Royal Household of Queen Elizabeth II.

Finesse your social etiquette and learn more Royal rules for life with any of our online or in-person courses, or private tuition

There’s further information about the British Royal Family on their official website.

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