It may sound delightful... but if you are ever invited to a formal dinner with the Queen, we advise you to carefully consider. You see, bound up in a myriad of rules of etiquette and regal whims, the experience actually might end up being downright nerve-racking and potentially unpleasant — and you could even leave pretty hungry, if not soused.
Pity poor Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton who was schooled on his table manners by Her Majesty when he broke protocol by eagerly trying to chat with her over lunch. “I was excited and started to talk to her," he told the BBC's Graham Norton, "but she said, pointing to my left, ‘No, you speak that way first and I’ll speak this way and then I’ll come back to you.’"
According to the Telegraph, custom dictates that if you are seated to her right, "you are the guest of honour and can expect to be engaged in conversation during the first course. If you are to her left you are not and should wait for the second course to be served for your opportunity."
Seating is arranged in order of precedence, which also determines the order in which you are served. If you are the bottom of the food chain, you'd better eat up quick because you're also supposed to stop eating when the Queen stops. We have no information concerning the speed at which the current Queen eats, but Queen Victoria was an infamously swift eater, according to Stylist, which noted that "she could get through seven courses in half an hour."
"For many people, eating with her was purgatory," according to an entry on Etiquipedia. "Everyone was served after the Queen and when she had finished, all the plates were cleared for the next course. If you were the last person served, often you wouldn't get a chance to eat anything before your plate was taken."
And then there's the menu: You'll eat well, but not adventurously. “Sadly, the Queen is not a foodie. She eats to live," former royal chef Darren McGrady told the Telegraph. Royal protocol also dictates that shellfish and rare meat must be off the menu (danger of food poisoning), as does garlic (the Queen hates it) and anything "too spicy or exotic," according to the BBC.
On the plus side, dinner might be rounded off with a slice of the Queen's favorite chocolate biscuit cake, which she eats every day. There will also be drinks, though not quite as many as rumored. “She likes a gin and Dubonnet," said McGrady, who was forced to deny reports that she drinks four drinks a day, every day. “She'd be pickled if she drank that much,” he protested.
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