As a little girl, I remember my grandmother reciting the age-old Pussy-cat rhyme that went something like: “Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat, where have you been? I’ve been to London to visit the Queen!” The rest of it usually involved something about a mouse, a meow and a tickle, but whatever it was I remember being thrilled by the whole thought of visiting a queen. When I heard the rhyme, I didn’t think of a cat visiting the Queen; it was me! I was also particularly curious about the curtsy, and, try as I might, never quite mastered it gracefully.
So maybe that’s why I was inwardly thrilled just a little to hear about Justin Trudeau’s visit to the Queen early in his tenure as Prime Minister. He will meet her in person on Nov. 25, on his way to Malta for an international meeting. It’s a little bit of that pomp and circumstance that we, as Canadians, can enjoy. It sets us apart from the Americans. It’s our little royalty. We have a Queen! Even if she is just a figurehead.
So what will our new Prime Minister have to do when he meets the Queen?
Well, a quick check of the “Official Website of the British Monarchy” yields a plethora of information including traditional behaviour expected during an audience with the Queen.
“For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way. On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is ‘Your Majesty’ and subsequently ‘Ma’am’.”
But, in these modern times, the site also notes that some forego the bow.
Forego the bow? What about the curtsy!?
According to another site, one is not to bow or curtsy if on is not British. And, do not offer a handshake. You are not allowed to touch the Queen or any member of the royal family. Apparently, we are meant to wait for them to extend a hand.
And, do not give too firm a handshake. Also do not kiss or hug the Queen.
In addition, we can expect the Queen to speak first; apparently one does not initiate conversation with Her Majesty.
Needless to say, while it’s possible young Justin met the Queen previously while in the arms of his father, Pierre, this will be a rather different meeting. After all, the Queen is Trudeau’s boss, in a way.
I fear there will be no chasing of mice under chairs during this royal visit.