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The dos and don’ts of being The Queen’s guest at Balmoral

How does one anticipate acting when invited to spend the weekend with the Royal Family at Balmoral? We are quite sure that the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, his wife, Bronagh, daughter, Stephie, and son, Max will be pondering this as they will be spending the weekend as The Queen’s guests. Being that this no ordinary weekend getaway, certain etiquette is expected of the Key family. William Hanson, an expert on Royal etiquette, has come up with a set of guidelines that the Keys should follow as they set off for their weekend.


1. Know your Place

At times, the atmosphere at Balmoral can be quite relaxed. Barbecues at this country estate are quite common, and the royals themselves are the ones behind the grill. Although backyard barbecues allow for a laidback atmosphere, one must remember that they are guests of the Queen. Her Majesty would not be referred to as Elizabeth, nor would the Duke of Edinburgh be referred to as Philip. The proper title would Your Majesty, followed by Ma’am and Your Royal Highness, followed by Sir. This precedence applies to the Cambridges as well, even the youngest member Prince George should be known as Sir.

2. Shaking Hands, Holding Babies

This is often a mantra for politicians to follow but, the Keys should not expect to ask to hold the baby, they must be offered to hold him first. Since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very laid back, it is likely that they will given the opportunity. It is anticipated that the Duke and the Duchess, along with their 7-week-old son, Prince George, will be present this weekend. It is also thought that the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be staying at Birkhall, their house which is in close proximity to the castle, to be apart of the weekend festivities. The Yorks have even been rumoured to make an appearance this weekend. Though we would not know who was present being that it is not proper for guests to comment on other royals spending the weekend.

3. The Best Dressed List

The Keys have already been informed of the black-tie and gown dinner dress code;Bronagh and Stephie purchased new dresses and Max bought a new suit. The barbecues will be on the casual side, but the Keys should not expect to wear their favourite pair of denim jeans at these dinners. The castle is located in a rural area in Scotland. With that being said, country pursuits are on the itinerary. The Keys will be participating in fishing, hiking, dog walking, and maybe even a round of shooting. For these activities, warm clothes should be worn, once again no denim is to be worn!

4. Take it all in

The castle had been in the family for quite some time and it would not make the Queen or Duke happier than to talk about the history of the home. Prior research performed by the Keys would not be unappreciated, and would allow for a conversation. For those of us who will not receive the opportunity to hear the history from the Queen herself, the estate was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love with the Scottish Highlands thus leading them to this estate. The house which was originally situated on the property was too small for the Royals, thus leading the way for the construction of the castle which is now on the property. Construction started in 1853 and ended in 1856. Improvements had been made through the years. Formal gardens were added in the 1920s by George V and and more land purchased. Today the amount of land on the estate totals 49,000 acres.

Once the Keys arrive, they each are given the option of having a valet and maid. Also, their suitcases will  be unpacked and their belongings will be hung. Upon departure, their bags will be re-packed for them.

5. What happens at Bamoral, Stays at Balmoral

The Keys are not allowed to release any information about the weekend happenings. If so, they should not expect a future invitation.

If only we all had the pleasure of spending the weekend with the Royals, one can only dream!

photo credit: Michel27 via photopin cc

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