Announcing our new ‘Three-Day Masterclass in Protocol’

Monday, August 31st, 2015

The English Manner and the Protocolbureau have joined forces and developed a practical protocol training in Brussels, London and The Hague

Want to know how to manage a visit of a high-level delegation or a national day? How to handle formal written communication? How to navigate a formal dinner? How to be aware of the sensitivities when placing guests? What is the right order of precedence and which guests rank most highly? After completing this three-day masterclass, you will be equipped to meet the challenges and complexities of modern protocol management.

The English Manner and the Protocolbureau will teach you all the basics of international protocol and etiquette, and the management of high-level events. You will be inspired, gain insight and indispensible knowledge and skills. You will become proficient in preparing meetings with dignitaries and become an advisor for colleagues.

The course is ideal for embassy staff, those working for international or multi-lateral organisations, public relations and public affairs specialists, personal assistants, event planners, communication experts and protocol officers.

The Three-Day Masterclass in Protocol of The English Manner (London, United Kingdom) and the Protocolbureau (The Hague, Netherlands) will be held in Brussels (December), London (November) and The Hague (October).

The English Manner is a worldwide operating organisation founded by Alexandra Messervy, formerly of the Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen. The Protocolbureau is the number one protocol expert of the Netherlands.

The training will be given among other by the Honorary Chamberlain and former Master of Ceremonies of H.M. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, Gilbert Monod de Froideville, former BBC newsreader Diana Mather, the UK’s leading etiquette expert William Hanson, and the Head of Protocol, Events & Visits of the International Criminal Court, Bengt-Arne Hulleman.

”With the worldwide expertise of both organisations we are able to offer a truly unique practical protocol training that covers all the basics in only three days” – Jean Paul Wyers, director of the Protocolbureau

For more information please visit:

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Being a Guest in a Staffed House – Part One

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Shooting season is upon us and long weekends in country houses across the land will be the norm for the privileged few.  For newcomers fortunate enough to be included in these rituals for the first time, there are some standard routines to follow which will have you mingling with the long-time guests with minimum notice.

These are also good guidelines for anyone visiting a staffed house at any time of year. For many, the idea of staff is associated with hotels where guests are accustomed to making demands and giving orders.  In a staffed house, remember the staff do not report to you and also be mindful that they are the eyes and ears of your hosts.

Remember that the staff are the eyes and ears of the host!

Remember that the staff are the eyes and ears of the host!

First, please arrive at the agreed time.  This may have been dictated by your host or hostess, or agreed according to your Friday commitments and train times (common for the younger guests who may actually work in The City).

At one house, guests were given very specific, staggered arrival times and as they all drove, it was common for them all to meet up at a particular bridge about half a mile from the house.  Here they would pass the time and mingle, each leaving to arrive at their appointed time.  This eased the household routine enormously allowing for each guest to be welcomed and escorted to their room, giving staff time to unpack, offer guests a welcome drink, etc., which would have been impossible had six or eight guests arrived simultaneously.  The butler, of course, knew of the guests’ routine to meet away from the house, but it is unclear whether the host ever caught on.

Do not expect to be greeted by your hosts who you will probably not see until tea.  The butler will provide any information you need, dress code for dinner, etc., so don’t be afraid to ask. The butler will offer to unpack for you and while this is a genuine offer and one that you may accept, it is the norm amongst regular guests to demur that they are happy to look after themselves.

The butler will probably know if you have arrived directly from home or if you have been travelling, and if you have been travelling, will probably enquire if there is perhaps any laundry or pressing you would like done.  This is a genuine offer of convenience for those in need; it is not an opportunity for you to unload two week’s worth of clothes for laundry and pressing while you are there.  Likewise, do not ask to have seven shirts ironed if you are staying two nights. Pressing services are intended to rescue poorly packed clothes, not replace your personal laundry routine.

You should only ask for a minimum amount of ironing to be done!

Country clothes are appropriate, and this may include the clothes you have travelled in, for tea on arrival. But if your helicopter has brought you directly from your office, it is appropriate to change for tea.

Do not linger at tea.  By the time your hosts have gone up to dress, so should you. The same staff who need to clear tea will also be setting up drinks and getting on with the dining room.

If you have been invited to join your hosts for drinks in the library (or wherever) at 7:00 pm, you have the usual 10-minute grace period and should arrive by 7:10, suitably attired. Pay attention to the dress code (amongst the younger set, “black tie no tie” has become fashionable for the men and is perfectly acceptable, but looks increasingly sad once past 30).

Ladies should never out-dress or out-bejewel the hostess. Generally, diamonds are not appropriate in the country, although there are some stunning exceptions for important pieces.

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Why the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a Must

Friday, August 14th, 2015

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world, taking place every August for three weeks and is the highlight of many people’s calendar. The sheer variety of entertainment means that people are drawn from all over the world. The Fringe story dates back to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to perform at the newly formed Edinburgh International Festival, which was created to celebrate and enrich European cultural life after the Second World War. Although they weren’t part of the official programme they just went ahead and staged their shows on the ‘Fringe of the Festival’. This set a trend and more and more performers followed their example so that in 1958 the Festival Fringe Society was formed.

The Fringe provides support, advice and encouragement to artists and producers who come to the Fringe each year. In 2014 there were 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows in 299 venues so it is impossible to see everything – I last went two years ago and managed to see seventeen performances in two and a half days! Ideally you need to give yourself much more time, but I was on a tight schedule as usual. If you can stay as near the centre of the city as possible it makes life easier because you can walk from venue to venue. The locations range from theatres, to cellars, to rooms in pubs or specially constructed marquees.

My favourite venue was the fabulous Spiegeltent. This Famous mirrored tent is an iconic mainstay of The Edinburgh Festival and a star in its own right since Marlene Dietrich sang Falling in Love Again on the stage in the 1930’s. Since then the magic mirrors have reflected thousands of artists, audiences and exotic gatherings. I saw a mind-blowing cabaret-cum-circus act one night and the amazing Wah Wah Sisters the next. Quite a contrast as theses two American ‘sisters’ sang and played guitars for most of the performance ‘as naked as the day they were born’!

The fabulous Speigeltent venue

The fabulous Speigeltent venue

If you only go once in your life, don’t miss a chance to visit The Fringe. There really is something for everyone from authors, singers, bands, mime artists and raconteurs to name but a few. William and I are hoping take our Etiquette Show there one day – that would be a dream come true for me!

The Speigeltent is always one of the most popular venues

The Speigeltent is always one of the most popular venues

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When Technology Fails We Become Human Again

Monday, August 10th, 2015

I’m never sure whether I enjoy jumping on the train to go to London. Up until recently I haven’t been in a job where I have had to travel far (only from classroom to staff room for biscuits) and there remains an element of novelty and excitement as I plan my infrequent journeys to the “smoke” for meetings.

I always book a seat; really only because the online system does it for me. But it means I have no choice as to my travel partner, or, if you are lucky enough to find your reservation on a central table, partners. Grab a coffee, patiently avoid the sales patter to add a Spelt and Fruit Muffin to one’s order, and calmly climb aboard Coach C. And then what?

Nobody looks up. That might not be surprising when one considers they might have boarded the train at St. Earth sometime late last night, but it still smacks of mild rudeness. No acknowledgement. Until you make it clear that you are climbing towards your seat, and then begrudging half-movements, creating hamster sized gaps. Sit. Stay clam. Smile inwardly. And then what?

Passengers rarely even look up nowadays let alone acknowledge each other

Passengers rarely even look up nowadays let alone acknowledge each other

Plug your phone / laptop / tablet in to the plug point. Oh, no, they are already taken. Start to do some work (email some people who you will be talking to at a meeting in less than three hours), and keep on doing the same, through to Westbury, Reading and points East.

And why was I ever even vaguely excited at the prospect of such a journey. It never varies. That is what we do on early morning trains to London. Radial spokes of busy people all rushing on trains each day, all moving centrally; inexorably and individually.

That is until the free wi-fi packed up yesterday morning. Suddenly heads came up. Commuters smiled, acknowledged each other and conversation started. A delightful gentleman offered to buy coffee for those of us seated around our table; on his return he refused our obvious and pressing offers of reimbursement. We chatted through Westbury, Reading and points East. He has children and lives in Totnes. The other chap, ruggedly dressed in a jacket that made me feel that he might have abseiled to the station, shared his thoughts on Preston (he was born there). Phones, iPads and laptops were ignored. Yes, we could have used 3G connectivity, but we chose not to. Just for an hour we chatted and chatted and it was fabulous.

I sprang off the train and felt better as a result of having enjoyed the simple pleasure of conversation with strangers. It is what we used to do on trains “in the old days”, but is so rare now. Would it have happened if the wi-fi hadn’t fizzled out? I doubt it. But it was fun whilst it lasted. Fun and rewarding.

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Fashion Must-Haves For Summer 2015

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Every new fashion season introduces around half a dozen key garments (for both men and women) which will instantly update your look. By incorporating these Must-Haves into your current wardrobe and mix-n-matching them with existing pieces, you will immediately make all your outfits look new and fresh. Don’t forget to invest in the latest accessories too – the most effortless way to make essential wardrobe classics look bang-on-trend for the season!


  1. Trouser Suit

The staple of every woman’s wardrobe in the ‘90’s was the trouser suit. This summer sees its return but in much softer shapes and bolder colours. Wear it with a T-shirt and flats for a casual look or jazz it up for evening with a silk bouse or camisole and killer heels. In warmer weather, a culotte suit is cooler but still smart enough for the office.

  1. Embellished Top

Negate the need to wear a statement necklace by investing in a fabulous top with a bejewelled necline. Sparkling gems, sequins or an abundance of pearls are to be found on the necklines of these sleeveless blouses at very affordable prices. Don’t just save this look for evening, team one with your jeans for a glam daytime look.


This season's Trouser Suit is soft in shape

This season’s Trouser Suit is soft in shape and bold in colour. Team it with an embellished top


  1. Loose White Shirt

Every woman’s wardrobe needs this essential item as its versatility knows no bounds! Wear it with skinny trousers and heels for evening; with jeans and flats for daytime; over a dress as a lightweight jacket; and over a swimsuit as a cool poolside cover-up. Opt for an oyster-white if you are a pale, freckly red-head.

  1. Patterned Trousers

One of the hottest trends of the season is the patterned trouser. To be on the safe side, always wear these with a plain top as combining patterns can be tricky. As a general rule, narrow leg trousers and a drapey top are best for petite women; taller women can look good in wider leg trousers with a more closely-fitting top.


Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

Patterned trousers teamed with a loose white shirt will carry you through a number of occasions

  1. Belted Dress

A 50’s style belted dress will take you to lots of occasions this season from casual picnics and garden parties to lovely summer weddings – just change your accessories to suit. However, a belt will always direct attention to your middle; so, if your waistline has disappeared, opt instead for a straighter style.

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

Culottes make a cooler alternative to a Trouser Suit

  1. Shift Dress

A 60’s style shift dress will always be flattering to a Straight Up figure shape. Combine it with a boxy, Chanel-style jacket for a smart look or dress it down with a short, cropped cardigan in a neutral or contrasting colour. A boxy, hand-held bag would complete the angular theme of this fashionable look.

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure

Shift Dresses are incredibly flattering to a straight figure


Accessory Must Haves:

70’s straw hat; suede mules; ankle-strap sandals; boxy handbag; large bangles



  1. Chambray Blazer

A definite Must Have for the male wardrobe this summer is the lightweight blazer. Opt for a pastel shade to be bravely on-trend instead of the usual neutral colours – pale blue is the easiest shade for most men to wear. Team your blazer with a T-shirt and shorts for a casual look or chinos and a shirt for a smart look.

  1. Tailored Shorts

Tailored shorts worn with jackets and tan brogues were all the rage on the catwalks this season. You really need slim, tanned calves to carry-off this look and, for comfort, you need to wear ‘invisible’ trainer socks. If you think this look is not for you, simply substitute navy deck shoes (with no socks) for the brogues.

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

A lightweight blazer teamed with tailored shorts & brogues is bang on trend this season

  1. Blouson Jacket

An alternative to the blazer is the zip-up blouson jacket to add style to your wardrobe this season. In a subtle check or a plain fabric with patterned lining, team your blouson with a cotton-knit sweater or a T-shirt worn outside your trousers for a relaxed smart-casual look . Don’t forget the shades for extra points!

  1. Putty Chinos

The greatest American import into the English male wardrobe has to be the chino trouser; and the best shade to buy for summer has to be what the Americans call ‘putty’ which is slightly richer than beige. This colour, although warm, teams wonderfully with navy and white for a classic summer look.


Putty Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look

Putty coloured Chinos and and a Blouson Jacket make the perfect smart-casual look this summer


  1. Lightweight Suit

So many men continue to wear their heavy winter suits into the hotter months instead of investing in a lighter style – in terms of colour as well as weight. A pale grey, single-breasted, lightweight-wool suit (with perhaps a very subtle check) is a real Must Have for both work and social occasions as temperature start to rise.

  1. Floral Shirt

Floral shirts have been going strong now for several seasons and continue to be popular this summer. Teaming one with a plain jacket is child’s play but do be careful when combining one with a check jacket ; make sure the colours are very similar as seen here with a pale grey floral shirt and pale grey check suit.


A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months

A suite of a lighter colour and fabric is preferable during the summer months


Accessory Must Haves:

Classic Ray-Bans; Satchel bag; Tan Brogues; Trainer socks; Navy deck shoes;







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