How does one address the pretenders to the French, Imperial German and Austro-Hungarian thrones in correspondence?
Would it be proper to address the letters to "His Majesty King Henri VI of France," "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Louis Ferdinand," "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Otto," if one really believes the gentlemen in question are the king of France, the emperor of Germany and the emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, respectively? Is it more appropriate to address them some other way? How should I open and close the letters? How should I address the envelopes?I request your guidance on this odd matter because you can answer even the strangest questions with ease.
GENTLE READER - No matter how ardently you believe in the divine right of kings - and Miss Manners presumes that these personages feel at least as strongly about the matter as you do - a person who has never been crowned (as opposed to a deposed monarch whom you nevertheless prefer to succeeding revolutionaries) is not addressed as if he had been.
The titles of your correspondents are, respectively, His Royal Highness Monseigneur Henri d'Orleans, Count of Paris (although he just hates having the title translated from the French); His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia; and His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria and Prince of Hungary (who actually prefers being addressed as Dr. Habsburg). In addressing envelopes, a second line is started after "Highness."
If you care for flourishes (why does Miss Manners suspect you might?), you can open the letter with "Your Royal (and Imperial) Highness" and close it with "I have the honor (or honour) to remain, Sir, Your Royal (and Imperial) Highness's obedient (or most obedient) servant."
But "Sir" and "Respectfully yours" are correct, too. We republicans prefer them, but then, we republicans probably wouldn't be writing the letters you contemplate.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Every year a Christmas party is arranged by the employees at the local center of the large international company that my husband works for. Volunteers do the organizing, and tickets are sold during business hours.
It has been suggested that most employees would be more comfortable if the management and supervisors did not attend. The company in no way contributes, either financially or by providing the place, etc., but since tickets are sold at the office, I can see no way to exclude certain individuals without being rude. My husband feels that it's OK for employees to make it an "Hourly Paid Employee Party," since they are paying for it.
GENTLE READER - Do the executives of this company have any functions for the top level only, without feeling obliged to include the lower-ranking employees? Do they even agonize over whether it is necessary to do so?
Miss Manners rather suspects that inclusiveness is not always the rule; businesses are not social circles, where everyone is equal. She sees nothing wrong in the employees politely defining their own party so that it is clear that their bosses are not included. She can well imagine that the employees would have a jollier, not to mention safer, party by themselves.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - The elementary school where I teach has 450 students, so our gym is always packed with parents, friends and guests for our annual Christmas concert, which lasts about an hour and a half.
It has always been an excellent production, and I'm always proud of our students and our wonderful music teacher. But I'm not proud of many of our students' parents, who think it acceptable to leave the concert when their son or daughter has finished his or her part of the program.
During the performance, there is much confusion as parents rush to leave and retrieve their children from the classrooms. At the start, the gym is packed, but by the end there is only a handful left.
Is it unreasonable for us to expect parents to honor all the student participants and remain until the end? Every year the teachers threaten to do something to stop what we think of as rude behavior, but we don't know what to do.
GENTLE READER - As you are a teacher, Miss Manners knows you are used to looking at both sides of disputes. You have eloquently set out the case against parents' attending only a portion of the school concert, and Miss Manners agrees that the ensuing disruption is unpleasant.
She asks you to consider the parents' problem. All parents have to juggle many responsibilities, such as jobs and taking care of their other children. Taking time out of a weekday for getting to and from and attending an hour-and-a-half concert may not be possible for many of them.
With 450 children, there must be a natural division among classes. Could you not have two shorter concerts? Or perhaps one in the evening, with all siblings welcome and perhaps a supervised nursery for babies?
You might put these questions on the agenda of a parents' meeting. If nothing else, this will be a polite way of informing the parents that the current system makes for an unruly event.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - When traveling by air, we are often offered steamed towels to clean our fingers. Many of the men continue using the towels to wash their faces, necks and ears. Please comment.
GENTLE READER - These gentlemen are not tying up the bathroom.
As a frequent air traveler, Miss Manners would like to thank them. For the same reason, she gives ladies special dispensation to touch up their makeup at their seats. This will also take their minds off watching the gentlemen washing their faces, necks and ears.
Judith Martin's "Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children" (Atheneum) is now available for etiquette emergency consultation.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.