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There are several ways to interact with Royalty in the SCA. We will take a look at these a bit at a time ...
The Royals Are My FriendsThe hardest thing to remember about interacting with Royalty, is that even if they are your closest friends, while at an SCA event there is a distance that should kept by the Royalty in public. This is particularly hard if you are really good friends with the person who is wearing the Crown or Coronet of your Principality, because you should not treat them as your drinking bud in public ("Hey, Dude!" instead of "Greetings, Your Majesty!" ruins the Royal image). So, let's take a look at how this works ...
Forms of Address
There are a variety of forms of address that may be used when talking to or writing to Royalty. Below are the most common ones:
The King and/or Queen
The Crown Prince and/or Crown Princess
The Prince and/or Princess
The most formal interaction that a member of the populace is likely to have with the Royalty is in court. This interaction may be in one of several ways:
In all cases, the first thing to remember is Don't Panic! (large, friendly letters ...) when called in to court by the herald. The Royalty so seldom calls someone into court to punish them (the last time I can remember was well over 10 years ago), that the chances are very good if you did not know you were coming into court that you will be receiving an award - this is a good thing, ok?
When you come in to Court, come forward to approx. 20 feet (this is not always easy to determine this distance, but try, or watch others as they come into court) and bow (or curtsy) to the Royalty. One bow is sufficient even if the dais has several sets of Royalty - it is not necessary to bow to all of them. The reasoning goes basically like this: the Royalty presiding over the court in question are the "important ones", and by honoring them, you are honoring all other Royalty on the dais, as They are the guests of the presiding Royalty. (Example: If at a Kingdom event, bow to the King and Queen, if at a Principality event, bow to the Prince and Princess of the Principality ...)
Once you have done this first bow, walk briskly into Court.
When you are in front of the Royalty, bow once again, and then depending on what your reason for being there is:
NOTE: regarding announcements - if your voice does not carry well or you get nervous in front of crowds, consider asking the Court Herald to make your announcement for you ... you would make this arrangement before court when the heralds are requesting business for court.
When your business is done, no matter what it is, bow to the Royalty, then walk out of court. When you reach that approx. 20 foot spot from when you entered Court, turn and bow or curtsy once more. Then walk briskly out of court ...
This is just a short note about group presentations (Baronial Reports, Other Branch/Group/Guild presentations, etc.) - please remember to keep it short and sweet. Courts themselves are often very long, particularly Kingdom Courts. Adding a long presentation makes it a lot longer. If you can possibly do so try to keep the length down to 2 to 5 minutes (5 minutes being a very long presentation). Making it humorous helps, as a humorous presentation can break up court a bit, which as noted can be long (and sometimes a bit tedious) ...
Personal Presentations, for reasons noted elsewhere (length of court) should be kept out of court if at all possible. Instead, you should consider making your personal presentation while the Royalty are sitting in state (see below).
Royalty Sitting in State
When the Royalty are sitting on the Thrones and court is not happening, they are considered to be "sitting in state". If no other business is happening (such as peerage or other meetings), it is permitted for the populace, if they so desire, to come talk to the Royalty.
You should follow the same rules about bowing at 20 feet from the Thrones as when Court is "in session", and then approach the Thrones. When you are close, note what may be happening.
If no one is talking to the Royalty, and the Royalty is not talking to anyone, then simply ask if They would be willing to talk to you (be polite, use proper forms of address as mentioned earlier).
If, however, They are talking with someone or it appears that some business is in session, you should wait. If They notice you and ask you to wait then do stick around. If They notice you and ask you to come back later, do not feel put-off - usually the Royalty have a lot to do at an event - the chances are that they will be willing to see you later, but that they are busy now.
When the Royalty is Sitting in State is a perfect time to make a personal presentation or some gift you have made or purchased with the Royalty in mind. By making the presentation at this time the Royalty will have time to really look at what you have gifted them with, and have some time to talk to you about it. Court is usually so busy that the Royalty will often barely have time to examine your gift and will not be able to make much time to talk, as everyone is waiting for the next piece of business.
Passing the Royal Pavilion Or The Thrones
In The West, it is tradition to show respect for the Royalty and the Crowns or Coronets by acknowledging Them even if no one is sitting on the Thrones at the time you come near. Follow the same 20 foot rule for bowing when you pass the Royal Pavilion, if someone is there or not. The same if you are wandering around at an indoor event and you pass the Thrones - bow and pay your respect even if no one is on the Thrones.
Random Encounters With Royalty
Often the Royalty will be walking around an event, or you will be walking around, and come across Them.
The simple thing to do is to bow or curtsy to acknowledge Them. If you see Them in time remember the 20 foot rule. If not, do not be upset ... no one is going to be angry if you didn't notice the Royalty passing by (we sometimes call them "stealth royalty"), but if you do, it is courtesy to acknowledge Them by bowing, even if you notice after They have passed and They do not see you bow.
If They stop and talk to you, Don't Panic! Remember that despite everything said here in this document, the Royalty are people too. Be polite and respectful, but don't worry if They wish to talk to you ...
Writing To The Royalty
There are a variety of reasons you may wish to write to the Royalty. Some of these may be personal reasons, others may have to do with recommending someone for awards (see below), or dealing with business that you may have with the Royalty, and so on. There are ways to write to the Royalty that show the respect to the Crowns or Coronets that also sound quite good, and we'll briefly discuss these.
Your letter should include the following:
First, always make sure you put the current date on your letter. This is so that the Royalty who keep all letters can find things by date, or refer to letters when responding by date (i.e., "Concerning your letter of ...[date]").
The date can include the SCA Year (Anno Societatus, or AS), but you should always include the real-world year as well. For example:
August 5, AS XXXIV (1999 CE)
In this example, AS is the "Anno Societatus" year (34 in Roman numerals), followed by the real-world year and "CE" standing for "Common Era". You can leave the "CE" off and it will not hurt anything (I usually do ...).
This is often the hardest because you want it to sound good when read, and you also want it to convey respect, but you do not want to sound obsequious (like you're "sucking up" ...).
Here is a salutation I often use, make sure that when you use it (or something like it) that you substitute the appropriate forms of address for the Royalty to whom you are writing:
Unto Their Majesties Leigh and Deteriorata, King and Queen of the West, does
Master Hirsch von Henford send greetings!
The first line includes the appropriate forms of address, and just to be sure, it notes which Kingdom - this is not necessary, but it sure sounds good. If you are writing to multiple royalty, include all of them - this means that the line is likely to wrap, but that should be no problem. Example:
Unto Their Majesties Leigh and Deteriorata, King and Queen of the West, and Their Royal Highnesses Fred and Ginger, Crown Prince and Crown Princess of the West, does
The second line of the salutation shows clearly who is writing them, so that there is no doubt in their minds. If you wait until the end of the letter to sign it, they may not have any idea who is writing. If you are an officer, you should include your office. Example:
Lord Fred the Savage, Constable of the West, send greetings!
You should include, if you have any, your title or titles, but if you add too many, think how it might sound if you were reading it - here's a really bad example:
Duke Sir Master Master Baron Lord George the Simple, KSCA, OP, OL, CB, AA, QOG, QC ...
Sounds like a bit of overkill, eh?
The Body of the Letter
When you start the actual content of your letter you may want to start with something that sounds a bit formal, but gets things off to a start. One example might be:
May it please Your Majesties,
Another might be:
It has come to my attention,
And so on ...
From here, you should start the actual content of the letter. This of course will depend on the purpose of your letter to the Royalty. A couple of things that should be kept in mind:
If you ramble, it will be hard for the Royalty to keep track of what the letter is about, and They often get quite a bit of correspondence. If it is important to you and you want Them to read it, keep this advice in mind. If it's hard to read or determine what the letter is concerning, They may just put it away somewhere and forget it.
Signing the Letter
There are many ways to end a letter. You should always end your letter with information on how to contact you if necessary. The chances are that the Royalty didn't keep the envelope (how often do you keep an envelope from a letter?), and so cannot refer to the return address on the envelope (if you included it in the first place).
Here are a few options for ending a letter:
Please believe I remain Your humble servant,
In Service to the Crown and Kingdom of the West,
Your signature block itself should include after a statement similar to the above, room for your signature, and then your name, your mundane name, your address, phone number, and perhaps even your email address:
Hirsch von Henford, OL, OP
(Office - if any, and if relevant to the contents of the letter)
c/o Ken Mayer
Some city, state zip/postal code
This way, if the Royalty have a need or desire to contact you regarding your letter, they have several options.
Note that I tend to indent this a bit further in than the first part of the signature block - this is a personal preference, but I like the way it looks.
Also note that if you are an officer, and if the office is relevant to the content of the letter, you should note it after your SCA name, or under it.
If you are sending copies of your letter to more than one person, or you are an officer and wish to include copies to multiple officers (ex.: a Kingdom Officer may wish to send a letter to the Royalty of that region (i.e., Prince/Princess) and include their Principality officer in the mailing), then you should include a "cc" listing. This always goes after the signature block. An example might look like:
cc: Erkle the Red, Chronicler of the Barony of Elsinore
If you have multiple people, you can add them on the same line, or put each on a different line ...
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of Recommendation are very useful to the Royalty, as They cannot possibly know every single person in the Kingdom or Principality. They cannot, therefore, know everything there is to know about what everyone is doing. The Royalty really appreciates receiving letters that recommend people for awards - if you read the "From the Royalty" sections in The Page, you will see that quite often the Royalty are asking for letters of recommendation.
One question that always comes up is "Who can recommend someone for an award?" The answer is - "ANYONE!". You do not have to have a specific award to recommend someone for that award.
You may wish to be cautious when recommending someone for a specific award. Sometimes the Royalty may have other ideas ... It's often easier to simply recommend someone for recognition, rather than for a specific award. This leaves things open-ended.
For example, in the Principality of The Mists the Prince and Princess may wish to give Corollae, rather than Leaves of Achievement (Leaf of Merit or Rose Leaf), if They feel that they service someone has done is primarily for the Principality. If you leave your recommendation open, and simply state that you feel someone is worthy of recognition for their contributions, it is easier for the Royalty to make a decision ...
What should you say in a letter of recommendation?
First, you should try to keep it short. This may not be easy, particularly if you are recommending a friend, and you want to list everything that they have done that deserves recognition. Try to summarize, rather than listing every event that someone worked at ...
There are several ways to approach this, including a "bulleted" list ...
And so on. By doing this, you make it easy to note what you feel the person has done, and make it easy for the Royalty to see. If you put all this into a paragraph it can be hard to read, unless you are careful in your wording. If you go on and on about how courteous, chivalrous, kind, etc., a person is, the Royalty may fall asleep reading the letter before they can make a decision.
In this electronic age of communication, email is a viable way of communicating with the Royalty. You can still use all of the above to help with your email and make it work ...
However, you may want to make sure that you print out copies of everything you send. That way if there is a question, you still have it available. While you can, with many email programs, keep copies archived - what happens if you have a hardware failure? Hardcopy is still useful for record-keeping and should not be forgotten ...
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