Policies for Attendants in the Reign of Artan VI and Aziza
Directives for attendants and royal household
Prepared by Countess Ælflæd of Duckford some history is here
The retinue are living props and characters in a tableaux—a sort of theatre art, in a way—where we show special and exaggerated deference, not because the king and queen need it themselves, but because it will greatly enhance the medieval atmosphere and experience for all involved.
Our job is to make the Queen look good, and to make her job (and the King’s, indirectly) easier, freeing them up to do the things only the King and Queen can do.
PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION
Most of the attendants are in service to the Queen. The King has a few attendants, but they also serve the queen at times, as any gentleman will honor his lord's lady. The fact that most of this information will seem focus on the Queen's needs doesn't mean the King will be unattended, because he will also be fed and have his errands run.
The Queen will be attended constantly, but lightly—never with a full retinue except, perhaps, at interkingdom processionals. (Estrella is the only such processional expected.) At least one guard and one lady-in-waiting should be at hand at all times, if not directly in the queen’s presence, outside the door of her chamber. Shifts can be informally created, and there will be someone at each event to coordinate.
AT BECK AND CALL
Attendants should be at the Queen’s beck and call. Literally, “at beck and call” means close enough and attentive enough that if the Queen needs us she only has to gesture or speak a word and we are there. We don’t need to stand within arm’s length—in fact, we need NOT to do that all the time—but to stand ready to run an errand, to adjust furniture, furnish a drink, or whatever it might be.
These things should be in our thoughts at all times:
service, duty, discretion, trustThey will help us keep us in persona and focused. Looking the part isn't enough.
ADDRESS and POSTURE
After the first time in a day or on a shift of addressing the Queen formally as “Your Majesty,” or “Your Royal Majesty,” we will address her as “Madam.” It might be awkward at first, but it’s period and will be easier and more proper than a steady stream of “Your Majesty, Your Majesty, Your Royal Majesty.” If the queen calls or beckons, our response is “Madam?” (The same thing with the King, using “Sir,” or “Sire,” but I doubt we will be dealing with the King enough to need to get away from “Your Majesty.”)
In reference to the Queen between ourselves and to others use “Her Majesty,” or “Madam the Queen,” or at least “The Queen” and not “Aziza” (unless it’s “Her Majesty, Aziza” to people from out of kingdom or when the presence of two queens might cause confusion). I’ve used “Artan and Aziza” in this letter but I’ll [try to] quit that as soon as they’re crowned. At the moment it’s useful because I’m writing before coronation something that some people will not read until after coronation.
When summoned by the Queen, kneel on one knee if at all possible (two for ladies, if you'll be there for a few moments; one if it's just a moment to pick something up or deliver, but ladies generally need to keep their knees together to be courteous). Even if you are behind the throne, it looks bad to lean over to speak with the Queen. Don’t make her strain up to talk to you, and don’t make such a perfunctory motion as to just lean closer—if you’re behind the throne and HRM wants to tell you something, at least squat down back there to get close enough to hear.. If you’re in front, kneel and let her literally speak down to you. When offering food or drink, kneel (if the queen is seated). When delivering something you’ve been sent to bring, kneel. If the Queen is standing, a deep bow or curtsy would do. Baroness Katherine Holford says that in a curtsy to anyone but the King or Queen, one should hold her back and neck straight; only in a curtsy to the King or Queen is the head bowed. In Queen Elizabeth I's reign, there are reports of servants and even ambassadors kneeling during entire conversations, even if she was standing out in the mud. We won't re-create that, but neither will we be casual and 21st century about it.
Don’t enter the Queen’s presence without waiting for an indication from Her Majesty. It might be just eye contact or a smile or a gesture, but wait ten feet away, or whatever is appropriate considering the physical layout of the site and of the presence. Even though we are expected to be with the Queen, it’s her royal presence, and we are there by her will. Don’t sneak up behind—approach from the front, even if it’s nearly time for court and you are supposed to be behind the thrones. (Same things apply to the King. If you receive mixed signals about whether to approach the King and Queen together, go with a “not now” from either one. Wait until both seem agreed that you may approach.)
Privacy is rare for royalty. If you're out away from the thrones and the King approaches the Queen, bow out and get out of earshot. Watch the Queen to see if she needs you, but don’t watch so closely that you’re reading her lips. If the Queen wants you to be right next to her she can indicate that.
When someone is admitted to the Queen’s presence, let that conversation be private. Err on the side of too much deference, and too much consideration.
I hope the Queen never has to ask any of us to go away, and if she does I hope she does it in royal fashion. Don’t be offended if you’re treated like a servant once in a while; it’s theatre. Don’t expect moment-to-moment thanks Let the royalty be formal during events and accept their thanks later on. There’s no benefit to our servility unless royalty plays their role in a regal fashion.
There will be many times when food is involved.
When meals are served, don’t offer food to anyone else, nor take any yourself. The food belongs to TRM, not to the person who brought it, from the moment it’s presented. If the Queen wants to offer food to another guest, be prepared to produce a little plate and napkin and do any necessary serving. If the Queen offers food to us, we should thank her and decline, or thank her and assure her that we will eat what might be left at the end. Aziza intends to try to play out this scenario, but we’re all still Americans who are in the habit of saying, “Want some?” and “Sure!” Don’t do it at the thrones or at the table.
At feasts the Queen will have at least one attendant behind or near the table, prepared to serve her (and we can split the shift if there’s no one willing to miss the whole feast and eat leftovers). Meals other than the main feast will be served at the thrones, on folding tables which will be set up and taken down when the Queen indicates that she is finished. Think of formal service in a fancy restaurant. Be attentive and as quiet as possible about it. Don’t make the Queen ask for the table’s removal, but don’t take it away without permission, either. (If the queen leaves the area, cleaning up without permission is fine, of course.)
When people wish to speak with the Queen, a herald, guardsman, or a lady in waiting (in order of preference, beginning with the herald), should go over and offer to present them to the Queen. Determining their name(s) and the nature of their business (receptionist style), go quietly to the Queen, ask whether it is an acceptable time (unless you already know from prior indication one way or the other). Then return to the waiting person and either introduce them into the presence, or telling them that when the Queen is ready to receive them they will be sent for. Find out where they’ll be, make sure you have the name written down if you don’t know it well, and report back to the Queen that this is done. Next, don’t expect her to remember that someone is waiting, but when the time seems right, ask if she would like to receive that person, and one of the attendants can go and call him or her back.
It can be very flattering and impressive to have a liveried servant come and say “The Queen wishes to speak with you,” so don’t hesitate to use this method. It will add to the atmosphere and give people a chance to show off to their friends (besides keeping the Queen from feeling powerless over her own space and schedule).
Confidentiality and respect for the Crown are important considerations. If you learn things accidentally in the course of your service which are not public knowledge, you are not at liberty to share the information with friends, not even with your spouse. Duchess Madigan's recommendation in such cases was that you might discuss it with another attendant who was present, if you have a strong urge to discuss it, or at a moment when the Queen is not otherwise occupied, you might ask her to explain or clarify. Don’t pass the information to attendants who were not present.
If you become unhappy or frustrated with any aspect of your royal service, please speak me, Balthazar, Anne, the Blue Iris Herald, the Queen’s or King’s Champion—someone who can pass these concerns on to the proper person and help negotiate. Try not to complain to the Queen, or we defeat our purpose of making her life easier. Try not to complain to outsiders, or we defeat our purpose of making the Crown look good. People DO get grouchy and frustrated and there might be misunderstandings.
service, duty, discretion, trustWe can work as a team on service, duty, discretion and trust. Moods change, health changes, social situations come up. If you have less energy one day than another, or less than you thought you would have, switch out. Take a break.
Those in a position to set schedules and assignments should try not to inconvenience any one person more than others, nor expect more than each attendant is willing and able to contribute.
For each event there will be a coordinator. The Lord Chamberlain (Master Balthazar) will do this by default, but another might be assigned those responsibilities from time to time. The steward or chamberlain should let the autocrat know in advance, if possible, who that person will be, and the coordinator should speak with the autocrat on arrival and periodically thereafter to make sure all is smooth and flowing.
Ladies are NOT to be automatically escorted into court. In some reigns guardsmen have been bidden to escort every single unescorted lady into court. If someone seems to be waiting for an escort and it is handy to provide one, you might do so.
On-duty Guardsmen are asked to be armed at all times—sword, rapier, some real weapon if you have one. Her Majesty wishes not to be stringent on this point
Guardsmen's tabards should be worn when on duty and when on the combat field if applicable (at Estrella, for instance.
Wear shoes. Her Highness Aziza adds "Period shoes would be nice." ( I wish I had never seen a guardsman barefooted but I did once, mid-day, arms folded, as the queen walked off alone.)
Schedules should be determined early in the event, so that those guards who wish to fight or have other obligations at an event can be accommodated. None of us should ever have to work straight through a day, nor miss all the activities at an event. Let Balthazar or Tancred know what you would like to be free to do at an event and we’ll schedule around that. Let there be a natural flow, when possible. If someone comes to relieve you, brief him on what has happened or might be about to happen so that the transitions are as efficient as possible.
LADIES IN WAITING
We are basing our behavior as ladies-in-waiting on period models. We need, for the sake of appearance and art, to give as great a show of humble and “real” service as possible—the SCA not as it is but as it should have been!
Let the Queen initiate conversations. Unless you are asking approval or permission for something, or delivering a message, let the Queen set the tone. Subtly attempt to assist the Queen in staying in persona if the medieval mood is being lost. If she WANTS to talk about something mundane, it’s her kingdom and conversation, but don’t initiate mundanity yourself, and do what you can to restore the courtly ambiance before others approach.
Needs: (if you will be the ranking lady-in-waiting, consider having these)
Ælflæd of Duckford