HEIRS AND GRACES

BLAME IT ON COM­MON­ERS-TURNED-ROYALS SUCH AS KATE MID­DLE­TON AND OUR OWN MARY DON­ALD­SON, BUT PRINCESS-FIX­A­TION HAS REACHED SUCH HEIGHTS THAT WOMEN CAN NOW TAKE A COURSE IN HOW TO BE­COME ONE

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Stellar Contents - by ALICE WASLEY

Princess lessons for women who want to marry Harry.

We’re told ev­ery lit­tle girl wants to be a princess. But have they re­ally thought it through? Yes, hav­ing loyal sub­jects is an at­trac­tive idea, not to men­tion the jew­els, gowns and cas­tles… but apart from that, it just doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. Af­ter all, a good princess al­ways knows the right thing to wear, how to stand, sit, eat, and the most pleas­antly be­nign thing to say at all times. In other words, these tiny tiara-wear­ing maid­ens are dream­ing of grow­ing up to be­come re­ally, re­ally well be­haved.

Not all lit­tle girls are fall­ing for the princess con, though. Re­cently, one six-year-old in North Carolina chose to dress up as a hot dog on cos­tume day at her dance school, while all the other girls showed up in princess at­tire.

As they grow older, most young women recog­nise what hot-dog girl knew all along – be­ing a princess is not all it’s cracked up to be. A ca­reer

path best left to fairy­tales and Dis­ney movies, surely.

Not so fast. Who is this hand­some, broad-shoul­dered, ginger-haired prince get­ting around with a glint in his eye mak­ing the whole op­pres­sive caper seem ap­peal­ing to oth­er­wise sen­si­ble young women?

Harry. Harry makes duty look like fun. Harry is the rea­son eti­quette in­struc­tor Myka Meier teaches peo­ple how to sit in a chair prop­erly at The Plaza ho­tel in New York.

Meier, the founder of Beau­mont Eti­quette, trained in Lon­don un­der a for­mer mem­ber of the Queen’s royal house­hold. Her less for­mal cre­den­tials are that she has met both Prince Wil­liam and Prince Harry so­cially – the broth­ers even turned up un­ex­pect­edly to her hus­band’s birth­day party a few years ago, with Wil­liam man­ning the DJ booth to­wards the end of the night while Harry danced.

To a na­tion of royal watch­ers in Aus­tralia who wit­nessed from afar, Harry grew from a cheeky kid who bore the weight of the un­timely death of his mother, Princess Diana, with ad­mirable grace, to a still cheeky but hand­some man, who has jug­gled his army ser­vice with of­fi­cial royal du­ties, while ap­pear­ing to have a rol­lick­ing good time.

What’s he re­ally like, then? “He’s beau­ti­ful, charm­ing, won­der­ful and charis­matic,” says Meier. “A per­fect gen­tle­man. He’s fun – you wouldn’t know he’s a royal.” Sounds like a catch. What else? “He’s ar­guably the most el­i­gi­ble bach­e­lor in the world,” she says.

Thank good­ness Meier launched her Marry Harry course in April. What do they say? Luck is what hap­pens when prepa­ra­tion meets op­por­tu­nity.

Well-doc­u­mented case stud­ies of com­mon­ers-turned-princesses Kate and Mary have proven this to be the case.

Meier says she can turn ab­so­lutely any­one into princess ma­te­rial in four hours. And even if you don’t meet and marry Harry (there’s no money-back guar­an­tee), you’ll be primed for a “Harry-style” per­son. What might such a per­son look like? Per­haps the new Duke of West­min­ster, Hugh Grosvenor, who at 25 has just in­her­ited a $15 bil­lion for­tune, along with a sub­stan­tial chunk of Lon­don.

Meier has re­ceived en­quiries from women (and men) all over the world, and most clients are women in their 20s and 30s. She is of­ten asked where one can ac­tu­ally meet Harry – an­swer: at polo tour­na­ments or one of royal chum Guy Pelly’s restau­rants or clubs.

But back to the com­plex art of chair-sit­ting. We are in The Rose Club bar, a mahogany-pan­elled space dec­o­rated in gold and red that looks over The Plaza’s lobby. “You think any­body can sit in a chair, right?” asks Meier, and demon­strates how a reg­u­lar per­son sits in a chair. It looks, well, nor­mal.

Then she shows how a grace­ful lady sits in a chair, slow­ing her pace right down and glid­ing to­wards it. And this is the clincher: she never looks at the chair. She looks above the chair, and when she feels it touch her calf, that’s the sign to “gra­ciously lower her­self down”. If you look at the chair as you ap­proach, you break pos­ture, which is some­thing one should never, ever do. Pre­tend you have a wa­ter bal­loon un­der your chin to keep your head up (the old book-on-head trick makes your pos­ture too stiff, ap­par­ently). And slow ev­ery­thing down. Walk­ing, talk­ing, ges­tur­ing… As Meier says, “You could never imag­ine Princess Grace run­ning down the street in heels.”

The next high-per­for­mance princess move is the “Duchess Slant”, named af­ter Kate Mid­dle­ton’s sit­ting style. Proper eti­quette is to sit with your knees and an­kles to­gether as though there’s a rub­ber band around them both. Never cross your legs at the knees – if you must, cross at the an­kles. This min­imises the chance of pho­tog­ra­phers get­ting the up­skirt shot they’re hun­gry for and re­duces the like­li­hood of foot jig­gling – fid­get­ing reads as “neg­a­tive emo­tion”, which Meier says is a big no-no. Kate has an ad­vanced move, which is to lean her legs on an an­gle. This is, frankly, painful – it ap­par­ently works bet­ter in heels (town car re­quired).

Af­ter these lessons, which also in­clude how to meet and in­tro­duce peo­ple of dif­fer­ent ranks (“No touch­ing the Queen!” is a rule for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Paul Keat­ing once fa­mously breached), we move to The Palm Court for a cham­pagne af­ter­noon tea, where Meier runs through din­ing eti­quette.

She says stick­ing your pinky fin­ger out when you’re drink­ing tea is poor form and some­thing “cre­ated by Dis­ney movies”. When you’re eat­ing, “take four bites and break” is a good rule of thumb. How do you know you’ve taken too big a bite? “If some­one asks you a ques­tion and you have to give them the ‘one mo­ment’ sig­nal with your fin­ger, then you’ve taken too much,” she ex­plains.

An­other les­son that will come in handy should a grad­u­ate and Harry end up vis­it­ing the Queen at Bal­moral to play with the cor­gis and an­nounce their en­gage­ment is “the Queen of Eng­land fin­ishes last”. That is, if the Queen’s fin­ished eat­ing, you’re done, too. The same rule ap­plies to the guest of hon­our at any func­tion.

But be­tween af­ter­noon tea with Harry and an­nounc­ing this en­gage­ment is one par­tic­u­larly thorny ques­tion of eti­quette. How long does Meier think some­one dat­ing Harry should wait to sleep with him? “No one has ever asked me that,” laughs Meier. Af­ter a pause she ven­tures: “A sig­nif­i­cant amount of time – long enough that you know he re­spects you.”

Does Meier think the peo­ple who take her course have thought through the re­al­i­ties of mar­ry­ing Harry? How would they cope if, like the Duchess of Cam­bridge, they were to go from the free­doms of a com­moner to the re­stric­tive life of a princess? “Peo­ple think about the perks, and yes, there are mas­sive perks,” says Meier. “But she will never live a nor­mal life again and that, I’m sure, has been very dif­fi­cult for her.” The Marry Harry course costs AUD$1150. There are also on­line cour­ses that cover so­cial graces and eti­quette; beau­mon­te­ti­quette.com.

“The next high­per­for­mance princess move is the ‘Duchess Slant’, named af­ter Kate Mid­dle­ton’s sit­ting style”

26

ROY­ALLY GOOD Myka Meier with a princess-in-train­ing.

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