Royally embarrassed! Grant Harrold, a British etiquette expert and former butler who worked for Prince Charles from 2004 to 2011, has many interesting stories about what it’s like to be employed by one of the most famous blue-blooded families in the world.
One that sticks out is an anecdote that left Harrold, 41, “absolutely mortified.” The mishap took place during a royal dinner party and involved an unnamed member of the well-heeled British clan.
“I won’t name the royal, but I remember one occasion with a royal, I was offering some soufflé and I forgot to put the plate down,” he recalled to Us Weekly on Thursday, February 20. “It went onto a charger, which is a kind of like an under-plate, like a protector. And I offered the soufflé and it went straight onto this charger, which it’s not supposed to [do].”
Added Harrold: “I was absolutely mortified. I was so embarrassed. I kept apologizing.”
Luckily, the royal in question didn’t let the mistake phase him or her. “They said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s absolutely fine. I’m royal and I can eat off silver,’” Harrold remembered. “So thankfully they saw the funny side. I just wanted to disappear. It was the biggest catastrophe of my life to that point!”
When it comes to royal dinner party etiquette, Harrold tells Us there are plenty of rules and regulations guests must follow, including a few “fun” ones that go back hundreds of years. During Queen Victoria’s reign, her guests were instructed to begin eating only after she started her meal and to finish their dishes as soon as she was done. “That rule still is very much a royal etiquette rule because there is the unwritten rule that when the queen begins, that’s when the guests can begin,” the pro explained.
“If the queen finishes, the meal will then be cleared. It’s an automatic thing,” he added. Though Harrold notes Queen Elizabeth II, 93, gives her guests “plenty of time” to finish their dishes, Prince Philip has been known to give his dining companions a heads up, just in case.
“Prince Philip would warn guests who he was next to,” Harrold said of the 98-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. “He’d remind them to finish before the queen, otherwise they would find the plate getting taken away from them.”
As for forbidden royal foods? Harrold says shellfish are never served to the family for “obvious reasons” related to food poisoning concerns.
As he put it, “The main reason is because the royals are carrying out engagements on more or less a day-to-day basis. So if they suddenly got shellfish poisoning, it will put them out of action possibly for a few days, if not a few weeks. That’s why it’s quite important they avoid things like that.”