Royal etiquette: The bizarre dining traditions Royal Family must follow

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Curtsies, dining protocols and how to address a member of the Royal Family is complicated. But an etiquette expert has outlined some of the key protocols the Royal Family follow when dining, covering everything from cutlery, drinks and food items guaranteed to be off the royal menu.

Cutlery 101

The clash and cluttering of crockery and cutlery won’t be tolerated in the royal dining room, so it’s best to keep plate-scraping to a minimum.

Speaking to Coffee Friend, etiquette expert William Hanson said: “Correct, in Western formal dining, we don’t want any form of noise – whether that’s unpleasant sounds of mastication or the fork and knife scraping along a near-empty plate.

“It is not a breach of protocol to make noise with the cutlery on the plate, if it happens once or twice by accident, no issue, but to continue to do so is especially unfortunate.”

Some think you should hold your knife in the right hand and fork in the left, and the Royal Family also position their cutlery in a certain way when they’re finished eating.

Mr Hanson said: “When a member of the Royal Family is finished eating, they place their cutlery together.

“If you imagine the plate as a clock face and the cutlery as the hands of the clock, when finished eating in Britain, the cutlery is positioned at 6.30 with the tines of the fork facing upwards.

“The cutlery is placed together in such a finished position to alert the staff (and other diners) that you have finished so they can clear your plate without having to ask whether you are finished or not.

“It always amazes me when in supposedly good restaurants, when there is no scrap of food left on the plate and your cutlery is together in the internationally recognised finished position, servers still ask, ‘are you finished?’”

Follow the Queen’s lead

If the Queen is dining with guests, she commands so much respect that she determines when people start and stop eating.

Mr Hanson explained: “Yes, when dining with Her Majesty, no one should begin until The Queen begins eating; similarly, when The Queen’s cutlery goes into the finished position (as explained above) everyone else should follow suit – regardless of whether there is food left on their own plates.

“Starting your meal before or ending it dramatically after the Queen would be noticed by others. At your own peril commit such a faux pas.”

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Drinking hot beverages

While most of us wouldn’t think twice about how to drink a beautiful brew when it’s placed in front of us, the Royal Family are very particular about their china.

The Royal Family will sip from the same spot whenever drinking tea or coffee, and lipstick on the rim of a cup is a big no.

Mr Hanson added: “This is true, especially for those wearing lipstick.

“Ruby red rings of lipstick around a cup or glass are not attractive for anyone.”

The rumours that royals stick their pinky finger in the air when drinking is also a big myth.

The etiquette expert added: “Members of the Royal Family usually hold the teacup pinching their thumb and index finger between the handle, with their other fingers following the shape of the handle for support.

“It is not, contrary to popular belief, sophisticated to stick the little finger out when drinking tea or coffee.”

Hold the garlic

Easy to eat food is usually served at the royal dining table, and garlic is guaranteed to be off the menu as it causes strong breath.

Mr Hanson explained: “This is often the case when planning royal menus at home or away.

“Similarly, tricky foods are never served to ensure no awkward photos but also to make sure all guests feel relaxed and don’t worry about how they need to eat a particular dish.”

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