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Manner Monday®: ‘Time to Turn’ and dining with the Duke and Duchess

 

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dinner-table

Back in February of 2014, I saw something during an episode of Downton Abbey that caught my eye – formal conversation rules during dinner.  So I shared details in a Manner Monday post about the antiquated practice and mentioned if you ever have a chance to eat with a Queen, Dowager Countess, Earl, Lady, or some other dignitary and this information actually comes in handy...  can we say ‘foreshadowing’!?!?!? Little did I know, two years later, I would have the opportunity to dine with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and find myself practicing those rules.

During the Downton Abbey episode, the family was seated at dinner one evening and Mary was engaging in polite conversation with a gentleman suitor seated to her right.  Mid-conversation, she politely smiled and said ‘time to turn’, as she then turned to the gentleman to her left to engage in conversation.

‘Back-in-the-day’ they followed formal conversation rules during dinner.  The ladies were to keep an eye on their hostess and when the hostess ‘turned’ her conversation to the person on her opposite side, you were to follow suit.  I have a fabulous book in my arsenal, ‘The Rituals of Dinner’, by Margaret Visser.  In it she shares more detail on the topic:

“At the merest turn of the hostess’s head, from the guest on her left to the guest on her right, every couple has to interrupt their conversation.  The women take the responsibility of turning in the direction the hostess has initiated; the gentlemen, turned from and turned to, merely submit.  It would of course be exceedingly rude, not only to the host but to everyone present, to become so engrossed in conversation that you failed to notice the command, or refused to change partners; chorus line precision is required, or else at lest two people would be left ‘staring alone at the their plates.”

So there I sat, at a table of 10, one seat between me and the future King of England… pinching myself and in a bit of shock as to how in the world this was happening.  I watched the Duchess of Cambridge engage in conversation with the guest on her left, and the Duke with the guest on his left, and the rest of us falling into step.  I kept a watchful eye (but not a creepy stare) on Kate, and noticed as she turned her conversation, the Duke did as well, creating a domino effect as the rest of us followed suit.  Later during the meal, the conversations began to include three or four people with cross introductions and interesting banter.  I found myself being brought into a riveting discussion on ivory trade with the lady from China to my right and the Duke, as she was seated between us.  After that interesting discussion, we also were able to chat about much lighter topics such as Anthony Horowitz’s books (he was a guest and spoke at the event, he wrote the latest James Bond book ‘Trigger Mortis’, and the young teen series ‘Alex Rider’), George and Charlotte, and fun stories of William and Harry as young mischievous brothers.

Needless to say, I’m happy to have known about the formal conversation rules, and I sure hope that when you have your chance to implement them, you’ll have a fabulous story to share as well – and at the least, keep someone from staring alone at their plate!

The East Anglia Children’s Hospice Choir is on the balcony, singing after dessert.

dinner

Here is a close up of our table. The Duke is hiding behind the candelabra, the Duchess is directly across from him, that’s the back of her head :-/  The lady from China is to the Duke’s left, and yours truly next to her.

dinner-table

And if you missed the previous post where I shared more about the dinner, you can click here to watch a video where you can hear the EACH Hospice Choir singing, yes – they were amazing.

 

If you would like more information on EACH, please visit their website:  https://www.each.org.uk

Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered in a post?  Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you. My goal is to help students to feel more comfortable and confident in the social and professional skills; do you know someone who would enjoy this post?  If so, please share it and encourage them to sign up to receive Manner Monday?  I would appreciate it!

And if you’re new to Manner Monday, I’d love for you to take a minute to learn more about why I started it. You can click here to read my very first post that tells all about it.

Thanks for reading!
Carey Sue


In other news….

Registration for the Passport (9-12th Grade) Program is open:  Click Here to access more information and to access the Passport (9-12th Grade) Program registration online.

The Interview Intensive for 10-12th graders begins soon:  Click here for dates and registration information.

Business Etiquette Training and other Workshops Would you like to schedule a workshop or presentation? I have a variety of workshops that can be customized to fit your needs and would love to work with your organization, Click Here to access the Business Section of the website.  Or please call or email for more information, 405-721-1467 or CareySue@CareySueVega.com Here are just a few of the workshop topics:

  • Etiquette and the Generations – understanding ‘those guys’
  • Creating a Great Customer Service Experience
  • Business Etiquette and Professionalism – Navigating Lunch and Networking Events
  • Dude you’re Rude! Interoffice civility awareness and team building
  • First and Lasting Impressions
  • Professional Dress
  • Trade Show Booth Training

Word of Mouth is the best compliment you can give.  Do you know of some who may be interested in our programs, please share our information with them.  Here is the best link to share with them, it covers everything in a nutshell:  https://www.expeditionsinetiquette.com/youth/programs/

 

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