As a gal in her mid-twenties renting a dingy share house in an ~alternative~ part of town, the childhood dream of finding out I'm actually the Princess of Genovia is sounding pretty good right now.
In fact, Meghan Markle is living proof that, even if you're grandma isn't Julie Andrews, you can still end up with a royal title.
So when there was an office shout out for a volunteer to take up formal Princess etiquette training I, more than willingly, obliged. Because it never hurts to be 'too prepared' for royalty, right? Right.
RELATED VIDEO: MEGHAN MARKLE'S STYLE TRANSFORMATION FROM ACTRESS TO ROYAL IS ACTUALLY INSANE
To celebrate the release of Victoria and Abdul on DVD this week, we were lucky enough to score a royal etiquette crash course with expert Zarife Hardy from The Australian School of Etiquette, who gave us the 411 on how to be a princess. Fast.
For this experiment I had just a week to master the art of royal lyf, which mean studying, acting and being, for all intents and purposes, a member of the royal family.
Here are all the rules I had to follow:
Royal Family Etiquette Rules:
What to wear
"Dress codes and style are extremely important for the Royals," Hardy explains. "No ripped jeans, dresses must be below the knee when standing, dresses must have a sleeve, no wedges, preferably no black unless attending a funeral." Jeez, okay.
"Hats and gloves are always encouraged during formal or official duties. Dresses and skirts are always preferred. A clutch is the best bag to carry as it encourages good posture."
"Makeup should always highlight not cover, natural looks are preferable and maybe a deep red lip occasionally for formal occasions. It's all about subtle elegance."
"Hands must be well groomed, moisturised daily with clean and tidy nails. Royals are forever shaking hands so they must be well looked after. Fingernails always polished and never chipped."
How To Walk
"When walking shoulders must be back and chin level to the ground, never look down. Remember polish, poise and confidence at all times."
How to sit
"When sitting pretend there is an egg behind your bottom and the back of the chair, that is where you sit, you do not use the back of the chair, ever. Knees and ankles are always together and either placed straight down in front or slanted to the side, no crossing legs."
How to greet people
"When greeting someone always maintain eye contact, use a firm handshake and no more than two pumps when shaking. Cheek kissing is common amongst the royal family, you don't ever actually kiss the persons cheek and don't make any kissing noises."
Things Royals Really *Can’t* Do:
- Show affection in public: "When on official duties there is to be no public displays of affection. Stand tall and stay solid in your posture, hands must be by your side."
- Be on social media.
- Wear black: "Unless you're attending a funeral."
- Go shopping alone: "You must have a chaperone. Stores are usually closed to the public when you shop."
- Get drunk or tipsy in public.
- Voice your opinions.
- Eat shellfish. Or garlic: "No smelly breath is allowed ever and no shellfish for fear of poisoning."
Okay, that's everything. Promise.
Now from the outset I knew there are some rules I couldn't stick to, even if I wanted to.
For starters, as someone who works on the internet I physically can't do my job without being on social media. I also didn't have a handful of bodyguards and a private car to drive me around all week, so for this experiment the aim was to try and live my normal life like a princess, rather than actually live a real princess's life.
To make up for the rules I vetoed, I added some more rules that weren't explicitly stated (and so I technically didn't have to agree to) but I am pretty sure the royals still have to follow.
- No swearing.
- No running unless it's for a sporting event.
- No jaywalking.
But putting all of those rules into practice wasn't as easy as you might think.
Getting dressed everyday was HARD
If I had to sum up my aesthetic this week, it would be best described as 'going to meet your boyfriend's parents for the first time'. Only, his parents are total prudes so you have to dress like you conservative nana.
Surprisingly, getting dressed each morning was actually quicker for the simple reason that I had only four outfits in my entire wardrobe that actually ticked all the boxes. Also, having to carry a clutch bag everywhere with you was a complete faff. I never really appreciated how life-changing a good shoulder strap was until now.
By the end of the week I had to relax my dress rules a little bit to include black trousers (I had no more dresses or skirts left that were long enough and not black, or jeans that weren't ripped/super casual).
My posture was good, but damn I looked like a twat
Sitting up dead-straight and leaving an egg-spaced gap between you and the seat back behind you gets old quick. Aside from werking your core muscles like a b*tch, you also stick out like a sore thumb (and not for the right reasons).
By the third day my body had already started to adjust but by then people on my regular train already had me pinned as a pretentious snob, so the damage was already done.
It took a LOTTTT longer to get anywhere
Y'know how Julie Andrews said, 'a queen is never late, everyone else is simply early?' Yeah, well, it's 'cos they can't be seen to rush anywhere. Ever. So the small amount of time I managed to save on the 'getting dressed' front was gobbled up by having to move at a glacial pace for the entire week.
That means no running to catch the train, or speeding up to make the pedestrian lights on green (even if you're just a couple of metres away). And since jaywalking was definitely off the cards, I just had to learn to kind of 'go with it'.
Confession: I jaywalked once, but I had a good reason. I was being hassled at the pedestrian crossing by a random dude and nobody had pressed the crossing button so there was no end in sight. I looked down the street and there was no traffic so I figured this was one of those times when a real princess' bodyguards would have hauled ass and got her out of there. So I went for it and forgave myself pretty quickly after.
So, is princess life all it's cracked up to be?
While playing princess for the week was pretty fun, by the time Friday rolled around the novelty had worn off and I was definitely, 100 per cent OVER IT.
Sure my posture got better, and I became a bit ~calmer~ in my daily commute, but I missed being able to do whatever I wanted. I hated not being able to pull on my sneakers to run out to the shops. Or having to wear trousers when it was stinking hot because all my other outfits were too short. I missed wearing black, and slumping on the morning train ride like the other workers. For this, I had a newfound respect for the likes of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle. Everyone thinks being a princess is super easy, but even before you introduce the royal responsibilities and shiz, it's still pretty demanding.
To be fair, I might feel slightly differently about the royal life had I had some of the cool perks that went with it, like exclusive access to the shops, free clothes sent to me on loan by the world's top designers, and Prince William by my side.
In short, the main takeaway from the week is that being a princess is actually impractical AF. But I guess that's kind of the point, right? They're so important they can't afford to be seen to be fumbling with their house keys while they're trying to juggle a week's work of shopping on their shoulder. I mean, if we did see them like this, the whole 'princess' thing wouldn't seem nearly as cool or desirable, huh?