Here are some of the questions I have received from various different people this week about issues of etiquette and protocol. I thought I’d post the answers online (I have removed people’s names).
1. During a dinner/lunch – how do I rest my knife and fork if I pause for a while to speak? I think that it is fork over knife at a 25past 5 angle? Prongs down?
You are right that the bridge of the fork should go over the blade of the knife, prongs/tines down, and (if you imagine the plate as a clock) with them pointing to 3.40.
2. When someone speaks to me during dinner – should they put down their cutlery and should I stop eating and do the same?
You do not have to rest your cutlery to talk to your dinner partner, but you should stop eating/chewing.
3. When I have finished my main course – how should I leave my cutlery on the plate, and which way should the fork prongs face?
Both fork and knife together, fork on the left; knife on the right, at half six. The tines of the fork should be facing upwards (downwards if dining in France).
4. Why did the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall precede the Queen in the procession down the aisle?
Her Majesty is ‘top dog’ and so comes last – so she is last to be seated/take her place.
5. I always hold my fork in my right hand and my knife in my left…is this an example of poor etiquette? Or is this acceptable?
I wonder if you are left-handed? This is often the case nowadays that left-handed people will reverse the traditional order (fork in the left; knife in the right). If you find this style of dining more comfortable and easier for you then stick with it, but traditionally it is always (right or left handed) that forks go in the left, and knives and spoons in the right.
6. I am glad to have seen you on television promoting manners and etiquette. I have a passion for manners and etiquette and I am constantly reading about the subject. However I find that my peers are not very supportive of this, and often make me feel as though I am sticking out like a sore thumb. as you are of similar age I would like to know if you have ever felt this, and how does one deal with a situation like this?
It’s great to hear that you too have an interest in the subject – it’s so refreshing. Ignore what your peers say. They will one day realise that you were right all along and they will be held back by their lack of interest or practise of courtesy. You will have the last laugh! Trust me, I have been there. Obviously, do not cease your interest just because of what a few mis-guided individuals have said or think. Know that you have the moral highground and don’t sink to their level; instead, enjoy the view!
If you have any other questions about etiquette, manners, protocol or taste then do email me.
Tags: answer, cutlery, dining, etiquette, expert, fork, Her Majesty, knife, left handed, manners, postbag, Prince of Wales, protocol, Q&A, questions, royal wedding, royalty, spoon, table manners, The Queen