What if the Queen some day, on a whimsy, decides to ask a stateside commoner to High Tea?
What if that common American is you?
You will be packing your bags, reviewing your ‘What Not to Do’ list:
-Don’t give the Queen a hearty hug
-Don’t ask if Welsh Corgis are a large breed of rodent
-Don’t request to switch out your dainty teacup for a nice, hearty mug of coffee
These are all very good, but The Prude, wishing you to put your best Yankee foot forward for the honor of your nation, has a few other pointers.
That group of islands in the North Sea is not England any more than Dubuque is Iowa.
You can refer to the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) or you can refer to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales)
or you can make pithy remarks about each country (so Wales doesn’t mind that the Prince of Wales isn’t Welsh?) (don’t worry if the Scots start playing bagpipes- I brought my own earplugs) (I hear ‘Danny Boy’ was written by an Englishman. Are the English as sappy as the Irish?) (What do feminists think about this whole ‘Isle of Man’ thingy?)
When someone mentions ‘Shetland’ ‘Jersey’ or ‘Guernsey’ check to see if they are talking about the pony, the cow or the other cow,
the island, the island or the other island.
You’ll also want to brush up on your vocabulary.
How do you pronounce ‘Pepys’? If you said ‘Peeps’ you are correct. If you made it sound like multiple Pepe la Pews you would be in serious breach of etiquette.
‘Cholmondely’? ‘Chumli’! Right!
Mary ‘Magdalen’ would be surprised to hear part B of her name called ‘Maudlin’,
your neighborhood mailman named Ralph would have to answer to ‘Rafe' in the UK (which ups his appeal to the opposite gender immensely)
and whether you see ‘St. John’ as a first or last name please address the bearer as ‘Sin Jin’.
If you want to exit your train at ‘Featherstonehaugh’ and strain your ears to hear a multi-syllabic name shouted, listen more carefully. You’ll want to get off at ‘Fanshaw’.
Think ‘Marjoribanks Mainwaring’ would be a prodigious name for your daughter?
Only if you don’t mind her hearing 'Marchbanks Mannering' everywhere in Great Britain.
Just remember that “Woolfardisworthy’ is ‘Woolseri’, Leveson-Gower is ‘Loosen-Gaw’ and ‘Wriothesley’ is ‘Roxli’ and the Queen will welcome you with, if not open arms, at least a tidily gloved hand.
As long as you don’t elbow her husband in the ribs and ask him how he feels about playing second fiddle to the little woman.