Royal Butler Grant Harrold
37 year old Scotland born butler Grant Harrold isn't your ordinary butler. For starters, he gets papped in his native U.K. ("I went out for a coffee and the papps found this interesting! To my horror I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt!" he recalls). The reason behind his fame is because he was the royal butler for almost 10 years tending to The Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Kate and William), Prince Harry, Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall. He is now the personal aide to Her Royal Highness Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
Grant was here in Australia recently as a guest of the accommodation website Stayz dishing out a prize to a lucky family who won a weekend in one of the luxurious houses and an etiquette lesson with Grant. He shares with us his top royal etiquette tips-many of which we quickly realised we were doing wrong! How many of these 21 points did you know?
A younger Grant and the Queen
Number 1: Did you know the correct meal times in a traditional upper class household? These are:
7am: A "calling tray" of tea and biscuits in your room.
8am: Breakfast that consists of orange juice first then tea or coffee, then cereal, bacon and eggs or hot food and then toast. And if you are a married woman, you have the right to have all of this brought to you on a tray in your room.
11am: Elevenses where tea or coffee is served with a nice selection of biscuits.
12:30pm: Pre-dinner drinks. 1pm: Lunch.
4-6pm: Afternoon tea.
7:30pm: Pre-dinner drinks.
10:30pm: After dinner drinks.
Number 2: Grant explains the proper etiquette for handshakes, "Extend your hand at the right angle with your thumb pointing up. Touch thumb joint to thumb joint. Once you make contact put your thumb down gently. Wrap your fingers around the other persons palm. Two to three pumps is enough. The handshake should not be crushing or limp but firm and friendly." A gentleman should always wait for the lady to make the first gesture, be it for a handshake, a kiss or a hug. A gentleman should always be introduced to a lady eg. Lord Featherbottom, please meet Lady Cheshirecat (I made those names up obviously ;)).
Number 3: Social kissing is as follows: English style is a kiss on the right cheek, French style is left and then right cheek and you can gently touch their shoulder.
Number 4: Men must remove hats and gloves as soon as they walk into a building. Ladies can leave their hats on until 6pm. After then you can wear a tiara - but only if you are married.
Number 5: Posture is important. Make sure to carry yourself as though there was a string attached to the top of your head holding it up. You should have your shoulders back and your chin up as though you were balancing a book on top of your head.
Number 6: You are not supposed to visit the bathroom after the main course. If you do need to use the facilities, do so when you first arrive at a house.
Grant demonstrating a tea cup held like a bowl where the pinkies flick out
Number 7: Afternoon tea is a minefield of etiquette. Developed by the Duchess of Bedford in the mid 1840's, Grant has been in the room where afternoon tea was first taken and met the Bedford family. As for the eternal question: pinkie out or tucked in? The Queen tucks it in. It is said to perhaps come from a time where tea cups were like soup bowls and you used two hands to grasp the bowl and your pinkies would naturally flick out.
Number 8: And should you put the milk in first? Only if you're downstairs staff. Tea cups used to be fragile and the hot tea would cause the china cups to crack so milk was added in first to temper the tea's heat. When Josiah Spode invented fine bone china using animal bones the good cups went to the upstairs people (the family and guests) and the old cups the downstairs people (servants).
Number 9: To pick up a cup simply pinch the handle-there's no need to hook your finger into the handle. The saucer stays on the table if you are sitting at the table and acts as a coaster. If you leave the table take the saucer with you. Place the spoon at six o'clock and the handle at 3 o'clock position. Tea drinking should be a quiet slurp-free zone. If you are adding sugar mix it in without clinking the cup with the spoon. Instead use an up and down motion (6 o'clock to 12 o'clock position back and forth).
Number 10: Cream first or jam? The royal way is cream first. And do you use a knife to cut a scone? The Queen does so you're in good company if you do.
Number 11: Dinner time! Setting the table is very important. Butlers can use white cotton gloves to ensure that there are no fingerprints on the cutlery. Grant finds it easiest to put down the plates and then work the cutlery around them. Using your first thumb knuckle as a measure, line up the bottom of the cutlery by placing your thumb at the edge of the table and measuring. It is roughly an inch. The white wine glass then sits between the two knives, the red wine to the left, the water glass to the right and the champagne flute behind these. The champagne flute is not actually for champagne but for the dessert wine.
Number 12: A butler's tip for avoiding dripping candles? Place them in the freezer! If you take them out and use them 30 minutes before they arrive they won't drip.
Number 13: In royal service they put down plates on the left and serve liquids on the right. Place your bag either behind you or under your chair. That way the butler will have access to both sides. Butler service is when they bring over the dish and you help yourself. Waiter service is when they serve you.
Number 14: The correct dimensions for a napkin is 12 inches square.
Number 15: People should be seated in alternating genders: female to male and so on. The male host sits at the head of the table, the female host sits at the bottom and then most senior female guest sits to the right of the male host while the most senior male guests sits to the female host's right. The exception is state dinners.
Number 16: From the starter to the main you always talk to the person on your left. From the main onwards you switch sides and talk to the person on the right. This is to ensure that everyone has the chance to speak to someone.
Number 17: Ladies should hold the napkin with the crease away from them. If you need to dab, just take one corner and delicately dab the mouth.
Number 18: Never pass the salt and pepper separately, the two are "married".
Number 19: If you really want to impress a royal or a historian, serve fish with two forks. Traditional cutlery used to tarnish with fish and two forks were used instead to eat fish.
Number 20: Do not cover your glass if you don't want any more wine. It is considered rude. "I do know one chap that carried on pouring, good chap..." Grant says.
Number 21: And the worst manners he has ever seen? It's usually alcohol related but mobile phones and iPads pose an enormous problem with etiquette. He was quoted once as saying that having a mobile phone on the table was akin to putting a male body part on the table!
And what does Grant think of Downton Abbey's butler Carson? "I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey, and I see myself as the good looking and younger version of Carson. It is very true to life – although times have moved – and a lot of the etiquette and manners throughout it are still practiced in private households today."
And his favourite royal? Prince Harry, because he is relaxed and normal.
So tell me Dear Reader, which etiquette rules did you know and or follow? What do you think of the meal times and the number of meals? Do you like practicing good etiquette or do you think that it isn't practical in these times? And who is your favourite royal?