Philosophy of Court Heraldry: On Courts
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Philosophy of Court Heraldry
Date Written: January, 1987
Last Updated: Summer, 2016
Author: William the Lucky
Policy Level: Informational
Intended Audience: Court Heralds
Abstract: More practical considerations of the philosophy of doing Court for the Crown.
Never surprise the Crown! -- ‘Crown’ including, for this document,
either the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess, or even the Baron and Baroness.
All business for Court should normally be reviewed with the Crown before Court begins.
In a few cases (usually where the Crown and the Herald have known each other a
long time), Their Majesties may tell the Herald to use his own judgement -- even
(perhaps especially) here, the Herald must know not only who is making the
announcement or presentation, but also what is being announced or presented.
There is no excuse for ruining someone's Coronation, as happened once,
by letting someone with no taste present a chastity belt to the Queen in Court!
If there is an announcement of the schedule for the day, do it early in Court;
if the Court is very long, repeat at the end of Court (at least what the next
couple of activities are).
Try to alternate Announcements and Awards. If you have a lot more
of one than the other, scatter the ones that you have
fewer of thru the others.
With Awards, build from the lesser to the greater. Do not, for
example, do the Peerages before doing the Leaves. It is unfair
to anyone to have their big moment turned into an anti-climax because a bigger
moment happened just before.
Similarly, if you have both Leaves of Merit and Rose Leaves, or several
Peerages, try to estimate which will bring greater roars from the populace
and do them last.
With each Announcement, make sure that both the Herald and the person with
the Announcement are clear on which of them is to speak.
If the Herald is making some of the Announcements, and others
(officers or whoever) are making others, try not to schedule several
non-Heralds in a row. Intersperse announcements spoken by the Herald or Awards.
If someone other than the Herald wants to make an announcement (as
opposed to a presentation to the Crown), they should be reminded of
the need to project without yelling (so that they can be heard in the back),
and offered the option of having the Herald speak for them. How much
encouragement they are given to take this option depends on their voice --
if the Herald has several experiences where they cannot be heard 6 feet away,
the level of encouragement is liable to become larger.
Have scrolls, promissories, tokens, etc. convenient to hand before Court
starts. It helps to have them stacked in the order which they will
be used --- especially if you do not have another Herald to assist
you during court.
If ceremonies are occurring at Court, look them up ahead of time
and mark their places in the Ceremony Book so that you can find them
quickly during Court. If the Crown has lines, be sure that They are
aware of that, and offer them a chance to review the ceremony before
Court starts. If you are doing a ceremony which has optional parts,
try to find out which options are being used.
Check the names of those who will be called at Court. Nobody
likes having their name mangled (even if they have gotten hardened to it).
A phonetic transcription sometimes helps, especially with the more
Court is theatre: keep it moving, keep it interesting.
Let those subjects currently before the Throne leave before calling the next.
This is particularly important when doing several awards in a row (due
to a shortage of announcements to intersperse).
If someone receives an award, it is customary to exhort the cheers
of the populace (which also helps fill the time while they
are returning to their place).
If someone makes a presentation, tell the populace what was given.
Having written out a schedule, and checked it with the Crown before
Court, you should rarely need to consult the Crown during Court about
what should happen next. However, it is a good idea to check at
the end of Court (when you think the business is finished), to be
sure the Crown has not suddenly developed an urge to speak or another
bit of business to conduct.
Serious ceremonies (Coronations, Investitures, awards, etc.) should
be kept serious. If the Crown or honoree makes a funny,
fine, but the Herald should exercise restraint and never initiate
joking during the ceremonies.
Occasional humor brightens announcements and such, but Court
does not really require a constant flood of comedy. Also,
it is worth remembering that the Crown and populace may be much
less appreciative of puns than an audience composed solely of
one’s fellow Heralds might have been.
Especially for large Courts, voice projection is at least as important as
it is in field Heraldry. Breathe. Relax. Talk (don’t yell)
to an individual in the back of the audience.
This is only one way of approaching Court. There are others, which also work well
for those who use them. However, before setting out to invent a whole new approach
of your own, you might ask yourself “How will this be better than an existing approach?”
If the only answer is “Because it's mine,” you probably need some advice or some
more experience first. On the other hand, it can be really useful to think about what
you would do, before someone comes along and drafts you to run one. At least you can
make your mistakes in the privacy of your own mind.