Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Queen Is Acting Like She's Never Seen King Ralph

They used to say that we Americans, lacking a royal family, treated our Hollywood actors like royalty. The English, lacking a Hollywood, have apparently taken to treating their royalty like Hollywood actors—which is to say, gossiping about them in magazines and nightly entertainment newscasts. The latest Big Story out of Windsorllywood is the apparent breakup of that heir apparent with boy-band looks, Prince William, and his long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, right on the verge of what everyone assumed would be an engagement. And the lastest angle on that Big Story is that the in-laws were just too common in their interactions with the Queen:
It wasn't Middleton, per se. It was her mother, a former airline flight attendant who was caught on video chewing gum next to her elegantly hatted and serenely smiling daughter at William's graduation from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

There was more. Carole Middleton, who runs a party supply business with her husband and made enough to buy a $2-million house in Berkshire and send her daughter to prestigious Marlborough College, said "toilet" instead of "lavatory." She said "pardon" when she couldn't hear what someone had just said. ("What?" is more posh.)

When she met Queen Elizabeth II, William's grandmother, she said, "Pleased to meet you." Well, columnists wanted to know, who wasn't happy to meet the queen? "Hello, ma'am," was what was called for.
Link (via Language Log). Pardon? Okay, chewing gum and using the word toilet I could see as faux pas: I would feel a little ashamed if I did them at a job interview, much less in an audience with the Queen. But "pleased to meet you" sounds much more formal and respecful to my ear than "hello, ma'am," and I thought "pardon?" was more proper than "what?" In fact, I've been trying to train myself off "what?" for years. Shows what a rube I am. Maybe it's because the Queen actually could pardon you.

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Image credits: "Kate Middleton," Getty Images, courtesy BBC News, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.


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