Dining at the Palace?
1. Stand behind one's chair and wait for the Queen to sit down before being seated.
2. Wait for the Queen to start eating. When the Queen stops eating, so does everyone else at the dinner.
3. The Royal family eats Continental style. The knife is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. Food is conveyed to the mouth with the fork held tines down in the left hand; the fork is not transferred to the right hand the way it is in North America. When finished, the knife and fork are placed parallel on the plate.
4. Should one happen to drop something on the floor, pretend nothing has happened. Footmen will discretely attend to it.
5. Once seated, no one leaves the table until the Queen leaves. It is considered bad manners to leave the table and visit the restroom during the meal.
6. Personal belongings such as cell phones and purses should not be placed on the table.
7. Looking for salt and pepper shakers? They won't be found - instead, look for a salt cellar, which looks like a tiny bowl with a small spoon, and a pepper caster.
8. Don't ask for things not directly within reach. One needs not ask to have anything passed when dining with the Royals. All food is served by footmen, and each guest's place setting has its own individual salt cellar, pepper caster, mustard pot and butter dish.
9. Refrain from clinking glasses to have the newlyweds kiss, as the Queen wouldn't appreciate having her exquisite crystal chipped.
10. What traditionally is called "dessert" is called "pudding" in England. After the pudding course comes the dessert course, which is the fruit course. At this time, each dinner guest is presented with a finger bowl on a gilt plate with a knife, fork and spoon. Guests are to lift and position the finger bowl and napkin to the left of their place setting and lay out their own cutlery for the fruit course. After the fruit is eaten, guests use the finger bowls.
Here are some wonderful books available about dining at the Palace.
For the Royal Table - Dining at the Palace, by Kathryn Jones - "This book is filled with photos of the dining table all set, the silver gilt services, the Victorian goblets, and all the fabulous gilt serving pieces collected for the Royal Collection by King George IV the first 25 years of the 19th century. Can you imagine being a server carrying a large Sevres platter from the Louis XVI service dating to 1760?" -The Anglophile
Dinner at Buckingham Palace, by Charles Oliver --"When Queen Victoria dined-whether it was breakfast or a dinner party for hundreds of guests-it was no casual affair, and this elegant volume, based on the diaries of the son of a royal servant during the Victorian era, pays homage to the pomp, circumstance and food that came from the royal kitchen, and the dining habits of the present Queen and her family."-Publishers Weekly