DEAR MISS MANNERS: In a TV show about Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, they described the first time Meghan met the Queen. This was when they were still dating, so she had no royal titles. She was an American citizen, not a British royal.
They said Prince Harry told Meghan at the last minute, in the car on the way to the meeting, to bow to the Queen. All Meghan apparently wondered was if she knew how, and if she would do it well enough.
But I was always taught, even as a child, that Americans didn’t curtsey to foreign royalty after the American Revolution. Am I incorrect? Did Meghan have to bow to another country’s monarch just because she was in a relationship with the monarch’s grandson?
Does it have to do with what position people hold in the United States? For example, when the president and his wife visit the queen (or now the king), is the first lady expected to take a bow? Or is it just that American citizens don’t bow to royalty, but instead show respect in other ways? If so, what are they?
What should Meghan Markle really have done?
SOFT READER: You are quite right that US citizens – and especially US officials – should not pay tributes to foreign potentates, symbolizing a bow (or curtsy).
Nor do British diplomats show this to anyone but their own monarch. British diplomat and historian Sir Harold Nicolson wrote of the efforts British officials took to avoid kowtowing to the Emperor of China without causing offense.
Not giving offense is another diplomatic objective, and not just for professional diplomats.
Miss Manners can imagine that this factor would prevail in someone who is about to meet her future mother-in-law and whose future husband has informed her of that person’s expectations.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boss and I have the same degree in our field, which we both obtained at about the same time.
When writing his name, for example in his email signature and in his biography on the organization’s website, he includes both the degree commendation before his name and the letters after it (e.g., Dr. John Smith, Ph. . d.).
When I received my degree, I was taught that it was incorrect to do this in writing – that one could include either the honorific (Dr. John Smith) or the letters (John Smith, Ph.D.), but not both.
Perhaps trivial, but we work in an environment where style, grammar and tradition are central.
My first question is: did I understand it correctly? And secondly, if so, may I suggest that he fix this little mistake?
SOFT READER: 1. Yes. 2. No.
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