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First, these are totally my opinions only. They are not "rules" but more my personal rules for how to do court heraldry. Feel free to disagree. I list them as "rules" and "philosophical points" but seriously, they're my opinions only.

Second, the Crown wins. Always. If there is ever a debate between what the court herald wants and what the Crown wants...the Crown wins.


Court Heraldry Guidelines

1. Write it down. Use a script with notes. There is nothing so bad as standing up in court and forgetting who Their Majesties are. It happens, and it even happens to the best heralds, so write it down.

For example, I write down a boast, the introduction to court (“Here opens the Court of their Royal Majesties John and Jane”), and a list of what’s going to happen in that court (each name of people called in, spelled phonetically, and the award they are going to get.)

You will want to remember to have or copy the relevant parts of the Book of Ceremonies, such as the fealty oaths (if their Majesties are taking fealties) or any peerage ceremonies.

2. Never let the Crown be surprised.

You and the Crown should know what is going to happen in court. Its your job to inform the Crown if people want to make presentations, give gifts, or speak to them. If someone wants time to talk to the populace, you should know what the speech is about and tell the Crown.

There is one exception that can be very rarely used. If there is to be a surprise gift to the Crown, ask to see it yourself. Decide whether it’s an appropriate surprise. (The few times I’ve seen this work, the surprise has been gifts of money or a tasteful personal gift from a good friend of the Crown.) . Then ask the Crown, “X has a cool surprise for you, I’ve SEEN it and it’s okay and in good taste. Do you want to see it ahead of time?” (Making this choice puts your reputation for taste, honor and tact at risk. Use only in circumstances where you are 100% sure the Crown won't mind being surprised. If They want to see the surprise, make it happen and don't argue.)

3. Never let yourself be surprised.

This means that you should meet with their Majesties far enough in advance of court to prepare a court list (see number 1 above), to pre-read scrolls and figure out how to pronounce names. Its sometimes useful to ask people who are in the same group as the person getting the award how to pronounce that person’s name.

4. Precedence happens.

You need to be aware of the precedence of matters in court.
In Northshield, when facing the audience, the Queen is on the right, the King is on the left. The next ranking people sit to the Sovereign’s side. The second-next ranking people sit to the Consort’s side.

Never assume that the royalty will choose to follow the standard procedure.

5. The Crown can overrule any of these rules.


Three philosophical points about court heraldry:

1. As a court herald, you should be an impersonal provider of hands, eyes and voice. You are a set of skills in service to the Crown or the presiding nobles, and it should make no difference who you are. For that reason, leave the badges of office, rank, household affiliation and such like off when you are heralding. Alternatively, cover them with a tabard. See 2.

2. Wear the tabard of the person you’re working for. For one thing, it makes you look like you are part of the court. For another, it covers up things like belts and medallions. Finally, wearing the tabard identifies you, clearly, as being the voice of the Crown/Coronet/whoever.
It may be appropriate to wear your local group’s herald tabard, but you should ask the Crown.

3.If you're a senior staff member for an event, don't be the court herald too.
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andvaka

August 2011

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