If you came face to face with one of the royals, you'd be forgiven for feeling a little tongue tied. First, there's the question of finding the correct title: is it 'Your Majesty' or 'Your Highness?' Will the Duchess be offended if we accidentally call her Kate? What is the most appropriate way to introduce oneself to Prince George?
Once you've grappled with that particular scenario, there's also the fact that a simple slip of the tongue or misjudged phrase could quickly make things awkward.
Social anthropologist Kate Fox the author of Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, has immersed herself in the linguistic quirks of the upper classes, coming up with a list of verbal do's and don'ts that would prove useful in any hypothetical interactions with the Windsors.
Next time you're summoned to Buckingham Palace for an audience for the Queen - or if you bump into Kate, William and the children once they've decamped from Norfolk to London - you'll want to avoid the following turns of phrase...
Mum and dad
You probably haven’t (non-ironically) referred to your parents as ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’ since your primary school days, but things are different when you’re a royal. Prince Charles, after all, referred to the Queen as ‘Mummy’ during his speech at her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.
As children, we were always taught that ‘pardon?’ (or at least ‘sorry?’) was the politest thing to say if we’d misheard something. It seems, however, that a different tack is required when moving in royal circles: if the Duke or Duchess misses your witty comment, they’re more likely to respond with a ‘what?’ Cuts straight to the point, we suppose.
It’s perhaps the first word that us commoners would use to describe the ins and outs of upper class etiquette, but the royals themselves would never opt for the word ‘posh.’ Instead, they might describe other members of their set as ‘smart.’ According to Fox, ‘posh’ would only ever be used ‘ironically, in a jokey tone, to show that you know it’s a low-class word.’
However fragrant a royal might be, they wouldn’t be caught wearing ‘perfume.’ Instead, if you’re lucky, they might tell you about their preferred signature ‘scent.’
Should the Duchess need to excuse herself, you’d never hear her ask for the ‘toilet,’ ‘ladies room’ or ‘bathroom.’ ‘Lavatory’ or ‘loo’ are the preferred terms - Fox reveals that historically, the royals avoided the word ‘toilet’ because of its French origins.
Tea as a hot beverage is fine, but ‘tea’ as an evening meal? Not so. You’ll only hear the last meal of the day referred to as ‘dinner’ or ‘supper’ at the Palace.
The royals wouldn’t kick back on the sofa in a ‘lounge’ or even a ‘living room.’ Instead, they’d retire to a ‘sitting room’ or a ‘drawing room.’ Sofa, as it happens, is the appropriately term for a ‘settee’ or ‘couch.’
When Prince George and Princess Charlotte want to have a run around outside, they’d head to the ‘terrace’ and not the ‘patio.’ Worth bearing in mind for your next barbeque, no?