What Duchess Kate Should Expect When She Visits Balmoral Castle

A vacation with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is much bigger than visiting your wealthy granny-in-law.   After all, it is Her Majesty who gave Prince William official permission (“Instrument Of Consent”) to marry commoner Kate Middleton, thus making her HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  So what sort of protocol should Catherine The Great follow when she travels to Balmoral Castle in Scotland come one long weekend in August?  We turn to the Brits for answers.

According to Zoe Brennan of the Daily Mail, the location calls for warm clothing.  Situated about 53 miles west of Aberdeen in the Northwest section of Scotland, the castle – bought by Queen Victoria in 1848 – can get a bit drafty (as any castle would, one can imagine).  Though fires keep the reception rooms roasty-toast, the bedrooms are heated by archaic electric fires.  Bring the North Face fleeces and L.L. Bean wool socks.

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Guests must adhere to the black-tie dress code for formal evening dinners.  This means men must don their spiffiest penguin suits and the ladies must dust off their floor-length ball gowns (and please, don’t pull a Serena van der Woodsen and show too much).  On Sunday, everyone heads over to Crathie Kirk for church in their parochial finest.  Hats are a must for the ladies;  Were your eyes not open on April 29th?  Gentlemen, please be sure to wear jackets and ties.

Catherine will be expected to curtsy every time the Queen enters the room, addressing her first as “Your Majesty” and after as “Ma’am.”  One must never speak to the Queen, unless she addresses you first, and “under no circumstances can you turn your back on the monarch.”  While Catherine is with William, she does not have to curtsy to the other royal women other than Camilla.  UNLESS Camilla is without Charles, in which case Catherine outranks the Duchess of Cornwall. Another note: “At pre-lunch drinks, wait to be seated. The ultimate faux pas is to sit in Queen Victoria’s chair, which as a mark of respect has been kept vacant since her death.”  And apparently one is never supposed to comment on how great the food is.  According to Brennan, “This would be a vulgar breach of an etiquette system engrained in the royals from birth, because it suggests they would serve anything but the best.”

When one arrives, it’s always best to bring a housewarming gift.  Brennan advises that said gift – be it good whiskey, a plant for the garden or chocolates – should be handed over discretely upon arrival.  You are then shown to your room (usually one with a double bed, plus an adjoining room with a single bed) where bells are provided to ring for your personal valet and maid. The valets and maids unpack your items, right down to the toiletries.  They even lay out your evening attire on the bed for you.  Bathrooms are not included in the suite, so guests are assigned a loo (NEVER use that word in front of the Queen) across the hall. “The bathrooms have deep bathtubs with chrome taps and a trio of washbasins marked in Gothic script ‘teeth’, ‘hands’ and ‘face’,” a local tradesman explained.

Every Saturday during  the summer, Queen Elizabeth puts on a cookout and even helps with the clean-up.  As we’ve mentioned before, Prince Philip cooks the meat himself, while everyone else is assigned a job to prepare for the informal feast.  The Daily Mail claims that only married couples are allowed to participate in the Saturday bbqs, but we find that hard to believe.  Who would leave Prince Harry out of such an activity?