Is this British enough for you?
For King Felipe and Queen Letizia’s second night in London they were gifted a banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor of London at Guildhall. Their escort for the evening was the Queen’s daughter, the Princess Royal. I have to say, it was the same for me last time I was in London. Bit over the top, but I did appreciate the gesture.
While perhaps not on quite the same scale as the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace, Guildhall isn’t exactly messing around and, as you can tell from everyone’s apparel, neither were the guests.
Unsurprisingly, the person messing around the least was Anne, who performed (there is no other word for it other than “performed”) an elaborate curtsey I’m not sure has been seen since the Palace hosted debutante balls. To our commoner eyes, of course, this looks not only strange, but perhaps a bit uncomfortable. There is something about a physical showing of obeisance that feels particularly outdated, isn’t there?
But, of course, at its root this is about respect. And while it is no longer mandatory to bow and curtsey before the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family, it means something slightly different when it is royal to royal. Hierarchy is everything, to a certain extent, because each “royal family” is essentially a family business and at some point your parent or your uncle or your cousin is also your boss.
In this case, Anne is expressing that she is literally ranked lower than Felipe and Letizia – a monarch’s daughter, not a monarch. And while this particular showing is a bit over the top, it’s also not technically incorrect. Curtsies have gotten shallower over the years, more perfunctory. If there is one woman in the world who knows how to do one correctly, how much do you want to bet it’s the Queen’s daughter? In other words, let’s not forget she’s a princess of the blood.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Felipe and Letizia’s facial expressions, but I feel like there’s a least a hint of amusement in there? Surprise, maybe?
Greetings aside, quite the event was pulled off this evening. Performances included the Royal Air Force Music and The Queen’s Colour Squadron Guard of Honour, not to mention speeches from the Lord Mayor and king of Spain.
The banquet also featured a showing of Anne’s husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, who is definitely a figure flying under the royal radar most of the time. Married to Anne since 1992, he has been a perfect husband in the public sense in that there is no evidence of him rocking the boat whatsoever at all.
Tomorrow Felipe and Letiziz start their day by taking formal leave of the Queen at BP before quick stops at the Weston Library in Oxford and Essex College and another engagement with the Duke of York. Fingers crossed, I suppose, that the meeting with Andrew actually receives some press coverage, though I have a feeling the real anchor of the day will be the final showing with the Queen. As it should be, no doubt.