Ten rules of etiquette for your Versailles visit….
What could be worse than strolling Versailles and running into a noble, or even worse, the King himself and not knowing what to do? It might lead to one being forcefully removed from court and ridiculed for years to come… so, here are some rules of etiquette one should be aware of to be saved from eternal embarrassment.
-If you run into a high-ranking noble or someone of the royal family, one needs to bow or drop into a curtsy, that much is clear. In case the King is not present, as in he is currently in a different residence, the official portrait of the King serves as sort of official representation of the monarch, as in that portrait is to be treated as if this piece of canvas is the King, which means you will have to bow or curtsy in front of it.
-If you run into someone of superior rank, you should always be the one to greet the person of superior rank accordingly, as in be the one to start the greeting. The person of superior rank may greet you in return according to your rank, it is considered rude to ignore a greeting among gentlemen, but the person of superior rank may only hint a nod. If a gentleman greets a lady, the lady may ignore the greeting and that is perfectly fine, for she may not want others to think she has closer associations with the male in question. It is however considered rude for a lady not to return the greeting of a other lady.
-If you are not sure who you ran into, as in what rank and name the person has, simply address them as Madame, Monsieur or Mademoiselle rather than making a fool out of yourself by calling them by a title they do not posses. It is of course handy to know who happens to be present at court during your visit beforehand.
-Do not directly address someone of higher rank, unless you are given permission to do so. This can be done in form of a nod by the person in question, but to be sure wait for a word directed at you from this pair of noble lips. This rule does not apply for the evening entertainments in the Grand Appartement, during those entertainments persons of lower rank may directly address someone of higher rank, but keep in mind that the person of higher rank still has the right to completely ignore your very existence even if you are standing right in front of that person.
-Never show the King or Queen your back. It is extremely rude to do so. This does also apply to the official portrait of the King. If you are dismissed, bow or curtsy, then move three steps backwards and bow or curtsy again, before slowly making your way to the doors, backwards of course, once you are stepped through the doors and are out of sight, you may turn around.
-If you happen to be at court around the time the King takes his evening meal and happen to be passed by one of his dishes, as they are carried through the palace to his table, always bow or curtsy towards the dish.
-Never take a seat unless invited to take a seat and never expect to be invited to take a seat by someone of superior rank, but should it happen make sure to humbly bow your head in appreciation, before you sit down on the object destined to host your behind. If in a salon with occupied gambling tables, never take a seat at such a table if you do not intend to join the game. It is very rude not to join a game if invited to do so and requires a very reasonable excuse, like an urgent business with someone of importance. If you happen to be seated and someone of the royal family enters the room, you must rise and never remain seated.
-If you are offered a snack by a person ranking higher than you, especially if it is the King or his family, it is extremely rude to refuse participation in snacking said snack. And never comment to the quality or taste of the snack, no matter if it tastes truly awful or is like heaven on your tongue. Also, never help yourself to a snack unless you are invited to do so.
-One does not knock on doors at court. It is quite peasant. One instead makes one’s presence known to a servant, who then opens the door and introduces one to the owner of the apartment. If in a room and someone enters said room, one can spot what rank the person has by simply observing if both parts of the double-doors are opened or just one. If it is someone of the royal family, both parts of the double doors will be opened. Likewise, when observing the royal guards one can easily spot the rank of the person they salute. They click their heels when saluting a Duc and Peer and when saluting a Prince du Sang or someone of the royal family they present arms.
-When in conversation with someone, it is very rude not to compliment them at least once. One should always have a compliment ready, although the spontaneous ones are more appreciated, never use the same compliment twice on the same person or use the same compliment with persons well acquainted to each other. They may talk about it and discover you told them the same thing…. It is fine to compliment people on family achievements, but it is better to compliment them on their own achievements. Be careful when complimenting someone on their looks or garments, you can not be sure how it will be received. So, compliment them on something more general instead, like grace or manners. Be also be careful with witty compliments. Although many nobles highly appreciate wit, the person you compliment may be among those who can not handle wit too well for various reasons.