There’s lots to be nervous about when meeting your partner’s family for the first time — and for Meghan Markle, that goes double. Apparently, Meghan trained in table manners before tea with the Queen (aka fiancé Prince Harry’s grandmother), and her training included valuable lessons like how to handle cutlery and behavioral etiquette while seated across from Her Majesty. As Meghan’s etiquette teacher forcefully suggests, Americans tend to be a bit more lax about table manners than the royal family. We have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about (*wipes breakfast sandwich crumbs off desk*), but reading what he had to say was … illuminating, to say the least.
Back when Meghan was still living in California, the not-yet-Duchess met with London-born Edward Fry, owner of the Rose Tree Cottage tea room, for lessons on table manners. Fry spoke with The Daily Mail about his experience training Meghan in etiquette: “She enjoyed it so much that she wanted to come back,” Fry claimed. “[Clients] come to us mainly to find out, ‘What should we do, as we are having this social event?’ The same sort of thing happened with Meghan. She knew she would be having tea with the Queen.”
While Meghan’s appointment with Fry was apparently made under a friend’s name (and, therefore, we’re not sure whether it was her idea), we’re impressed with the foresight here. After all, we’ve all seen The Princess Diaries. As Julie Andrews made very clear, a different set of rules applies when dining with royalty.
Fry has a slightly more somber view of American dining rituals: “We live in a society here which is a styrofoam cup or cardboard cups with a straw and everybody eats with their hands as we see with the ads on television,” he reportedly told The Daily Mail. “It is a wonder they know what a knife and fork is.” Ouch! “The younger generation doesn’t know what what bone china is,” he continues (guilty!), “and certainly don’t know anything about how to handle a cup and saucer or how to handle a knife and fork.”
That struck us as a bold statement — until Fry started getting into specifics. “Everybody who comes here, they want to know, ‘Well, do I hold the cup and saucer like this?’ ‘Is it this all right if I leave the spoon like this?’ ‘Do I ask for more tea and does it matter if the cup is put on the plate like this?’ ‘What is the plate for?'” the tea connoisseur reveals. (Editor’s note: There’s more than one way to put a cup on a plate? Or to leave a spoon?)
“A lot of people actually do very strange things for tea,” Fry said. “They move the plate, they don’t know what to do with the napkin.” Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be googling, “Why can’t I move my plate during tea,” for the foreseeable future.