I realize there are rules about how to interact with British Royalty in public, but are there rules about how royals interact with each other in private? Does Prince Phillip always walk 4 steps behind the Queen and does Prince Charles refer to the Queen as ‘mam’? Or in private would there interactions seem pretty normal, albeit somewhat formal, to us non-royals?
And if I was rich and had invited the Queen and Prince Phillip to my palatial estate would I have a different protocol when we were in public versus when we were behind closed doors?
I’m imagining a fun movie here, where the royals come over, let down their hair, and hang out around the pool. Prince Charles makes a mess of the burgers, Princess Anne gets a little tipsy and starts declaiming about the latest television series, Prince Andrew messes up the settings on the TV, and the kids are running all over the place…
I recall a story in one of Bob Hope’s books. He was staying at the palace. Got up late at night and ran into one of the queen’s dogs. He was playing with it when she came up. They had a short informal conversation. I don’t recall if he bowed/ kneeled or not.
Watch The Queen. I think HRH the Duke of Edinburgh addresses HM as “Cabbage” (or something equally informal) there.
But, if you aren’t part of the royal family, then I suspect the limits of informality might be:
The Queen – Ma’am
The Duke of Edinburgh – Sir (I think he’d only tolerate people that’s he’s known for at last 50 years calling him Philip).
The Prince of Wales – Charles (he’s younger).
Actually, Sue Townsend (who wrote the Adrian Mole books) wrote another novel called The Queen and I, in which a newly elected republican government strips the royals of their official status and moves them into council housing.
Tony Blair wrote in his recent memoir A Journey that the Royal Family are very low-key when they’re on vacation at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where the Prime Minister customarily visits them every fall. He was quite struck that when he joined them for a picnic, the Queen herself asked him if he was done with his meal, and then collected his plate, fork, spoon etc. and took them off to do the washing herself in the camp kitchen.
An interesting and recent description that alludes to this is the book “The Kings Speech”. Lionel Logue described numerous meetings with the royal family in a somewhat informal setting. Certainly business-related, but at that level. It sounds fairly normal. Mr. Logue was clearly in the presence of a famous person, but not someone with great power or authority. He certainly respected the royals and admired them, but there wasn’t any hint of subservience. A very good book.
Even back in the 20’s and 30’s the royal family sounded about like one would expect, a famous family trying to make it through the days and years.
See, now, I’m imagining something out of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Liz and Phil bitterly sniping at each other over coffee while the non-royal couple squirm in discomfort and embarrassment for them.
I saw the movie “The Kings Speech” and noted the sometimes very casual relationship between the King and Logue and assumed that since nobody was there to record their conversations it was pure fiction. Plus, that was 60 years ago and things would have been very different back then. Nowadays I think everybody is less formal than in the 1940s and behind closed doors the royal family is just that, a “family”, and that all of the proper protocol is probably left behind, but I don’t really know what happens and perhaps Tony Blair’s recollections are as accurate as we can get. Given the hectic schedule of the monarch I doubt there is a lot of time for them to hobnob with their friends or relatives outside of planned holidays at their summer estates.
It would depend how close you were to them. If they’ve never met you before, or only a few times, it will be rather formal. If they’ve known you for many years it might be less so. But there’s always a line you don’t cross.
I suspect her children still call her ‘Mama’ [i.e. with emphasis on 2nd syllable]. Though born in the 40s and 50s and 60s, they were effectively brought up in the 1930s, culturally. Relaxing amongst themselves (inasmuch as we can tell, from the film Royal Family, shown in 1969, but now withdrawn and not seen for many years) they act pretty normal.
I read an interview with Sarah Ferguson about 10-12 years ago, when the girls were say 8 and 10? She said she had given the girls three different levels of behavior, and told them in advance which level they were to adhere to. Sort of Defcon 1 for a garden party with the queen, Defcon 3 for a family afternoon sitting around throwing the ball for the corgis and drinking tea. Defcon 2, obviously somewhere in the middle. The girls seem to be pretty well poised (so far), so it looks to have worked out.
Actually IIRC he described it being very formal and scripted. The Royals cook and serve you and that that, its not like a normal picnic in which the guests might properly offer to help (and get turned down but still a very formal informal.