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The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998

Customs, Etiquette, and Playing the Game

Courtly Manners

Based on ban-Iarla Daedin MacAoidh a’Mhonadh’s Protocol in the S.C.A. class notes.

For use at events where any form of royalty are also attending.

Royal Presence: An unseen ‘area’ which extends around the persons of the Royalty, Their thrones (and possessions). A sphere in which they can conduct business. Generally speaking, the royal presence extends from the royal person to about six feet in all directions at all times. When the thrones are occupied, the royal presence also includes the area in front of the thrones to a distance of 30-40 feet (or to the far end of court, or the far side of the lists field). Acknowledge (bow, curtsey, etc.) the royal person if you must pass within the royal presence. Bowing or curtseying to unoccupied thrones (acknowledging the royal presence) is also common. Don’t block Their Majesties’ view – especially of the combat field. Royal presence also applies to Landed Barons and Baronesses and Royal Peers.

Recognition: Stand at the edge of the Royal Presence until the Royalty acknowledges you, then enter, state your business, and exit.

Standing in the Presence: As circumstances and abilities permit, try to stand when entering or being brought into the Royal Presence. This also applies if the Royalty approach you.

Bowing: As the circumstances, your clothing, and your personal tastes and abilities allow.

Facing the Royalty: Try to keep your face to them, circumstances allowing. When departing the Royal Presence, back away several steps (or as far as safety will allow) before turning your back.

Blades in the Presence: Generally speaking this is a no-no, especially in Court. Take blades off before you come into Court. (It is considered rude to take up Court time by making a show of removing your blades as you come into the Presence. Leave them behind if you’re going to attend Court.) Some Royalty, as is Their right, choose not to enforce this politeness.

Announcements: Speak up, position yourself so both populace and royalty can hear you. Good positions are to the left or right of the thrones, or at the far end of Court (forcing you to speak loudly so everyone, including the Royalty, can hear you). Never make your announcement with your back to the Royalty! Keep your announcement pertinent and as brief as possible. Avoid in-jokes and personal or household business in Court, that’s what Audiences are for. Heralds will make announcements for you if notified in advance – use them!

Formal Feasts

High Table: Royal Presence exists as if the Royalty were seated on their thrones, albeit condensed a bit. Servers bearing hot or ungainly food dishes are generally excused from bowing/curtseying in the Royal Presence if doing so will put them or the guests in danger.

Formal Toasts: Some time during the course of the meal, a number of the highest-ranking individuals in the hall will call for toasts to each of: the local landed Baron and Baroness, the Prince and Princess of a principality, the Crown Prince and Princess, visiting royalty (if any), and the King & Queen. The King and Queen will then toast the Kingdom. Traditions vary from area to area as to the order of the toasts, but generally speaking, the toast to the Kingdom is last and done by the highest-ranking individual. Toasts to the autocrat, servers, and other event workers can be left to another point in the banquet.


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