Policies for Attendants in the Reign of Artan V and Aziza
We, Artan and Aziza, have read and approved these policies which Countess Ælflæd has written by royal authority.
Good Lords and Ladies,
I have been Her Highness, Princess Aziza’s lady-in-waiting during the time of preparation for the reign of Artan V, and will be, in the coming reign, Steward of the Royal Household, charged with organizing TRM’s retinue at events, and seeing to the comfort of the Crown. I wanted to give you as much background and philosophy as you might need to help make the reign go as Artan and Aziza have expressed they would like for it to go.
Artan has been king four times before. Aziza has been queen twice. They have a great deal of knowledge and experience, and so we are not needed to advise them on the what and how of their duties (although we might be privileged to be asked occasionally). I have been asked to remove from them the concerns of coping with material items and of preparing or fetching their own incidental meals, and with your help, I think this can be accomplished. We will be 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 want or need it themselves, but because it will greatly enhance the medieval atmosphere and experience for all involved.
At Grand Outlandish before last, Aziza was Queen and also with child. As a service and as a project for my apprentices, I prepared period foods which would be especially pleasing to HRM Aziza, and we presented small meals formally every two or three hours throughout the event. HRM Artan ate as well, but the meals were directed toward the Queen’s tastes and needs, and presented primarily to the Queen. I was asked last summer some time after Crown Tournament whether I would do that for them during this reign—meaning to be sure they were fed, and treated in that formal a fashion. These policies and our service in general will be more directed toward the Queen than the King. I thought to make an exception in this statement for the King’s Champion, but Sir Jalut is devoted to the Queen’s service. I considered the Warlord, but His Lordship, Lycurgus, is so courteous a man that I cannot think he would balk at sharing in this plan and information. Therefore I feel no awkwardness in addressing most of this letter to matters concerning the Queen, and am sure that the King and his own retainers will help and support the personal retinue of the Queen.
Having spoken with some former queens, and at some length with HRM Madigan, it seems to me that the people of the Outlands are both lacking in formality and would welcome more of it. If we, as the Queen’s servants, will be as formal as we can stand to be, it will raise the level of formality all the way around. If we, as daily attendants (if we only count the days TRM are at events we can call it “daily”), strive to maintain ourselves in persona, which will enable the Queen, and the King, to remember to stay in persona, I see no harm and a great deal of good to come from that. It’s certainly worth a one-reign experiment. If it works out well and people have fun, I’m sure subsequent kings and queens will continue some of what we begin. If it’s too much work and it’s dropped, it still will have been worth trying.
The plan thusfar is to have the Queen attended constantly, but lightly—never with a full retinue except, perhaps, at interkingdom processionals (Estrella is the only one expected). The desire has been expressed to have one of the Queen’s Guards and a lady-in-waiting at hand at all times, if not directly in the queen’s presence, outside the door of her chamber. We will take shifts (scheduled at events, probably, or perhaps in advance if we know certainly who will be attending various events), and be either off duty, or 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 be ready to leap to action, whether it is to run an errand, to adjust furniture, furnish a drink, or whatever it might be. We might occasionally perform tasks for the King, but our focus will be the Queen.
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. You might make yourself a little mantra/peptalk of “service, duty, discretion, trust,” or something similar to keep you in the mood.
Having discussed this with TRH Artan and Aziza, and from experience and research, I would like to ask this of all the Queen’s attendants:
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 that’s easier). 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. In England, they knelt during the time they were talking to Queen Elizabeth, even if she was standing out in the mud. Let’s not be THAT period.
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 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 the King approaches, 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. You will be thanked profusely later, but don’t expect moment-to-moment thanks and fawning. 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.
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 served. 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. Don’t make her ask for the table’s removal, but don’t take it away without permission, either.
HRM Madigan has advised on this, and we’ll need to find our way with Aziza’s preferences, but we, as a group, need to try to subtly revise the Outlands’ current practice of just anyone blasting up to the thrones and discussing any and everything at length with the Crown. When people wish to speak with the Queen, a herald (Lord Walter will be Blue Iris, and at that time will be Master Walter) or guardsman, or if they’re not available, a lady in waiting, should go over and speak to the person, 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 the person 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 accidently 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. HRM Madigan recommends, in such a case, 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 with me, Baroness Kate, 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. Please, let’s think of our goal and work as a team to accomplish that. 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.
At each event the Crown attends, there will be a liaison/coordinator named to communicate with the autocrat and local officers about such things as where thrones should be, what the schedule is, where the Queen can have privacy and store her things, and so forth. The King and Queen are not to be put in the position of dealing with these details unless NONE of us is at the event, and I can’t imagine that happening.. The decision of who is coordinating at each event will probably be made in advance, and it will probably be one of the King’s traveling companions, or Lord Blaise (the King’s Equerry, if he is present) or me as Steward of the Household, or Walter as Blue Iris, or Baroness Katherine as Mistress of the Robes. It might, though, end up being any of the retainers. I’ll try to let you know in advance who is the coordinator, and Blaise will let the autocrat know in advance as well.
Baby William (little one-year-old Joshua Cunico) is not a prince. Please don’t refer to him as such, and if others do, try to politely explain that titles in the SCA are earned, and he’s just a generic SCA baby. The only adult so far that Joshua is likely to go with besides his parents is Mistress Sarah de Montgomery. Don’t offer to hold or watch the baby. Instead, we will just make the Queen’s life so comfortable that she doesn’t NEED help with William. If she does need help, she will let her ladies know. As the reign progresses he’ll get older and get to know us better, and we might be able to help some by Spring.
While on the subject of who is what, Artan will be Artan V (as there have been four previous sovereigns named Artan) but Aziza is not Aziza III. Consorts’ reigns aren’t numbered. In England Elizabeth II is the second sovereign named Elizabeth. Her mother was (is) a Queen and is named Elizabeth, but she wasn’t sovereign and so isn’t in the numbering scheme.
Guardsmen will wear their tabards only when they are actively serving the Queen. When off duty (except perhaps at Estrella, when they might never be considered to be quite off duty), they will not wear the tabard. In this way people will know who is aware of the Queen’s activity, schedule, wishes, and intentions during that portion of the event. Schedules will 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 me or the Captain of the Guard (when one is determined) know what you would like to be free to do at an event and we’ll schedule around that.
HRH is considering, at the time this is written, having temporary guardsmen when appropriate, rather than a full cadre of permanent guards. Those of you who are full-time guards will have the added responsibility of modeling and explaining these protocols to any one-day guardsmen, and assisting them in their service until they seem confident. The Queen does not want to train her ladies or guards; she wants that done by me, the captain, and by more experienced attendants.
LADIES IN WAITING
The chief lady-in-waiting will be Baroness Katherine Linnet Holford. Her title will be Mistress of the Robes. When I’m not at an event, Her Excellency will fill in for me if she’s there, coordinating schedules. When neither of us is there, Blue Iris will coordinate, or the Queen will appoint someone else, but in no case are we to leave such menial tasks to the Queen. (This is a separate position from the liaison/coordinator mentioned above, although they might sometimes be the same person, particularly at small events.)
We are basing our behavior as ladies-in-waiting on period models. Queens in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were greatly revered. We don’t need to “revere” Aziza, nor does she want/need our abject worship, but we need, for the sake of appearance and art, to give as great a show of humble and “real” service as possible. Please don’t think that my requests for us to be exceedingly servile stem from any great need of Aziza’s, nor am I trying to earn a Pelican or anything. The good thing about attempting all this during Aziza’s reign is that Aziza’s already a Duchess, I’m a Laurel and Pelican, Kate is a Laurel and Pelican—so what we do isn’t likely to be viewed as an attempt to “earn” rank—it’s an attempt at group art and a better medieval recreation—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.
As of this writing, there are six ladies-in-waiting: Baroness Katherine Holford (Caerthe), Lady Jessica (Caer Galen), Lady Rowanne, Lady Mina, and Melinda (the last three from al-Barran) and myself, when needed. HRH expects that if necessary temporary ladies in waiting might be enlisted at events. We will need to help them so that the Queen has no role past their being chosen—we will do all else.
One thing I’m considering which hasn’t been tested, as far as I am aware, is for each on-duty lady-in-waiting to have her own assistant/page/lady to run errands for her. This doesn’t need to be approved by me or Baroness Katherine, nor by the Queen (don’t bother the Crown with such micro-managing). If you have someone paying attention to you and your regular (non-royal) duties during the hours you’re attending the queen, you won’t have to leave the Queen’s side as much. These pages/messengers/go-fers should not present themselves directly to the Queen, but should come near enough to get OUR attention, and we can deal with them off to the side without disturbing or neglecting the Queen. They should never be sent on an errand for the Queen directly (unless at her personal request)—things such as summoning people to the presence or delivering royal messages should be done by “uniformed personnel” (heralds, guards). Let’s experiment with this. It might be a back-up lady-in-waiting, or a friend, child, newcomer buddy who doesn’t want to be abandoned during the time you’re on duty—it will vary from event to event. If you have someone to refill your water pitcher, to pass messages back and forth to others, to let you know when the feast will be served so you can inform the queen—things like that—it will provide another cool job and make us more efficient. You might want someone to go and check if the restroom is empty so the Queen doesn’t have to stand in line. There are lots of little jobs, the performance of which will make all our efforts seem smoother and more effortless. The goal is not to look frantically busy, but to look calm and organized. We’ll know more about this after we’ve tried it some. If your chosen assistants do particularly well or work several shifts, please make sure I have their names so they can be thanked by the Queen at some point.
Needs: (if you will be the ranking lady-in-waiting, consider having these)
I’m looking forward to this whole project, and to working with the people HRH Aziza has chosen to serve her, some of whom are old friends and the rest of whom I’ll be glad to get to know better. I enjoy social experimentation and language use, and this qualifies as both. Others will have their own favorite aspects of the situation. Each of us will find different parts difficult. I would like to ask all of you to help me to remain in persona if you see me slipping. The SCA is so old for me, and Artan and Aziza are so familiar to me, that it takes concentration to distance myself and not slip into mundane references and familiar exchanges with old friends. When I’m on duty I want to be as formal as I’m asking others to be; preferably moreso. I will accept whispered reminders, dirty looks, elbows to the ribs—whatever needs to be done subtly to remind me to set a better example. It will be a challenge for me to avoid reminders, dirty looks and physical ribbings.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or TRH/TRM (depends when you’re reading this) Artan or Aziza (addresses follow).
Thank you all for your willingness to serve the Crown and Kingdom.
Ælflæd of Duckford