Huffpost's etiquette expert, "Sticky Situations" columnist Julie Blais Comeau, is on the Royal Tour and will be filing regular dispatches from behind-the-scenes.
Wondering how the press tour is organized, and what it's like to be a part of HRH Royal Media Watch? Here's a behind-the-scenes guide to what happens.
For the media, a Royal Tour to Canada begins with an announcement. Hence, on April 27th, 23 days before its beginning, as a National Capital region resident, I had my first media decision to make. I had a choice of going in person to the National Press Theater, across from Parliament, or sitting in my office to listen live via a conference call. As I already had scheduled an earlier conference call with a client and would not have time to drive downtown, I dialed and inputted my participant passcode, as did other Canadian and International media representatives, to hear The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, officialise the second visit of Their Royal Highnesses, to Canada.
Last year, for the Will and Kate tour, 1400 journalists including 100 from the United Kingdom were accredited. For this year's Royal Tour, media accreditations dropped by roughly two-third, with 500 accredited media representatives including only nine that made the trip from the UK and 11 from other nations.
Following the announcement of the Royal Tour, media representatives are invited to submit a request for accreditation. I requested accreditation by electronically submitting a picture, a media affiliation letter and my passport. Then came a three day wait for my RCMP clearance. They did not ask for any other info or contact names -- they just did what RCMP does. I was confident that I would be accredited but still, I did breathe a sigh of relief when in my inbox appeared 'Accreditation Confirmation.' Off I went to celebrate with a trip to Winners to buy my very first fascinator. I love saying that word, don't you?
Media Guide and Itinerary
My first Royal Tour media email was the Media Guide and Itinerary. Follow up emails have since been coming in with subject lines such as: "Media Briefings," "Change to Itinerary" and "The Duchess of Cornwall -- Wardrobe," with fashion updates on what and who Camilla is wearing.
Here's the first of "The Duchess of Cornwall -- Wardrobe":
The Duchess of Cornwall is wearing an Air Force Blue Anna Valentine dress. **This information was provided by Clarence House.
This 86 page document contains all that you need to know to cover the Royal Tour:
The 2012 Royal Tour Theme
"For Queen and Country: Service to Canada -- A Royal and a National Value"
A total of 60,000 medals will be presented to Canadians that have, like Her Majesty, served their country and communities. Six of them, representing one per decade, will be awarded by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla at Queen's Park.
The Media Arrangements
A list of dos and don'ts including:
• Dress: Smart casual clothing is appropriate
• Photography and video: Photography is not permitted during meals. For security reasons photos must be done from a distance of 15 feet at all times.
• Questions to their Royal Highnesses: Reporters must not direct questions to Their Royal Highnesses as it can distract from the purpose of the engagement.
The Itinerary Outline
This is a when, where and what cheat sheet of the Royal couples whereabouts. It is a closest- to-five minute programme with arrival and departure locations, a very brief description of the royal activity and the very important "Open Media Coverage" or "Restricted Pool" mention.
Activities are listed in chronological order, from the official arrival in Fredericton, New Brunswick to the official farewell from Regina Saskatchewan, including His Royal Highness's observation of a D.J. workshop at UforChange and Her Royal Highness's first inaugural visit as Colonel-in-chief of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada at Moss Park Armoury.
Media representatives are offered free shuttle service between event sites. To allow for maximum coverage of the Prince and Duchess's activities, two bus options are available. I chose option A which means that I will be covering eight of the 11 activities of Their Royal HIghnesses. In total there will be 27 activities of this Royal Tour.
Event and Venue Backgrounders
I like to refer to this as the Royalpedia notes for historical facts, venue information and royal connections. It is the must know of the activities and their locations.
It is in here that you can read the Royal connections between the royal couple and Canada:
• Prince Charles briefly trained at CFB Gagetown as a young naval officer in 1975.
• Camilla is the great-great-great granddaughter of Sir Allen MacNab, prime minister of the province of Canada before the Confederation and the builder of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton. In 2009, the royal couple visited what is now a National Historical site.
Biographies of all dignitaries complete this Royal Tour media how~to guide.
I made the trip to Toronto yesterday to avoid all of the Victoria Day long weekend traffic. Like many of you I am in front of the tv, watching to observe Canadian protocol in action to mark the arrival of Their Royal HIghnesses to Canada and New Brunswick.
Royal family members are officially welcomed with Honours and Salutes. Watch for the following three elements:
• The 21 gun salute which will be repeated when arriving to the Royal couple arrives in the other two provinces and at the official farewell from Canada ceremony
• A 100 person guard
• The first six bars of "God Save The Queen". The full version is reserved for Her Majesty only.
As per the Media Guide and Itinerary I am in smart casual clothing: a navy blazer and comfortable city shoes.
The next step on this etiquette expert's itinerary is the Media Center to receive my media pass. I wonder, what and who will Camilla be wearing today. I guess I will soon find out with an email update.
* * *
UPDATED: Oh so exciting another 'Royal Alert' provided by Clarence House just came in on my smart phone!
Her Royal Highness is wearing an outfit by Bruce Oldfield.
His Royal Highness is wearing a lounge suit. His medals from left to right as you look at him are:
- Queen's Service Order (New Zealand)
- Coronation Medal
- Silver Jubilee Medal
- Gold Jubilee Medal
- Diamond Jubilee Medal
- Canadian Forces Decoration
- New Zealand Commemorative Medal
He is also wearing pin badges from all his regiments apart from Canadian Dragoons, whose tie he is wearing.
Etiquette and Protocol Expert's Notes: Medals are worn on the left, closest to your heart, just like your poppy on Rememberance Day. At a cocktail party your name badge goes on your right to facilitate reading, from left to right, as you shake hands.
My Royal alert also has every word to the Prince of Wales' speech. It came with an "Embargo until delivery" notice. Now that Charles has eloquently and charmingly delivered his wardrobe news is safe to share.
UPDATED May 22:
Upon arrival at Queen St. Park Mr. Mayor was greeting the royal watchers with his wife holding an elegant hat box that matched her black and white outfit.
- The crowd is of about 300
- One fascinator
- A dozen bouquet of flowers
- One PETA demonstrator with a sign "Bear hugs not bear hats."
- Mr. Canada with a sign "Prince Charles please meet Mr. Canada
- A couple of puppies
- One dressed up gentleman holding a pic of her majesty
- One fascinator in the press area
I should have worn mine.
Should you have a royal Sticky Situation, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and Julie will reply promptly. You can also ask your questions on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EtiquetteJulieCanada?ref=tn_tnmn.