The Fae guide to Etiquette (no. 47): public occasions

If you are a respected public figure – a list that includes captains of industry, politicians and general do-gooders, but probably not Katie Hopkins or Godfrey Bloom – knowing how to conduct yourself on public occasions is absolutely essential.

Here is a handy cut-out and keep guide to how you should behave at serious commemorative events.

1. Do not turn your back at a funeral

Placard on display at funeral of Margaret Thatcher

Placard on display at funeral of Margaret Thatcher

At the funeral of a famous statesperson, it is utterly infra dig to turn your back, throw things or generally make a row.

Commenting on those who chose to protest, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I think it is appropriate to show respect. There will be times, there have been times, when political figures who have died that I might profoundly disagree with. But when they pass you show respect and do so in a dignified way.”

On no account should you sing “Ding dong, the witch is dead”.

2. But do spend time with your friends

David Cameron and friends taking a selfie at Funeral for Nelson Mandela

David Cameron and friends taking a selfie at Memorial for Nelson Mandela

On the other hand, if you are a British Prime Minister attending the memorial service for some black dude, Mandala, er, whatever, it is absolutely right and proper that you should do your utmost to further national interest by schmoozing with your good friends Barack Obama, President of the US of A, and Danish prime minister Helle-Thorning Schmidt.

This is of course totes respectable, and exactly mirrors the spirit of the man in the hearse.

3. If you don’t know the words, pretend you do

Government Ministers bear a special responsibility for being nice to people less privileged than themselves, such as the Welsh. This is especially so if you have the great misfortune to have been appointed Secretary of State for Wales, when your duties include turning up to events in that country, shaking hands in a Welsh fashion, and occasionally singing their quaint “national anthem”.

But never fear: if you don’t know the words, just nod along enthusiastically, opening and closing your mouth from time to time like a goldfish on ketamine, and no-one will notice.

4. And remember: protocol always comes before principle

Jeremy Corbyn stood quietly at the British Air Force commemoration ceremony

Jeremy Corbyn stood quietly at the British Air Force commemoration ceremony

If, on the other hand, you happen to be the leader of the opposition, and worse, a godless socialist to boot, then you should remember that it is totally disrespectful to attend a commemorative event and stand quietly by, as opposed to joining in with a hearty rendition of the national anthem.

This will cause great offence to those being commemorated. Most recently, this appalling kind of behaviour typical of Labour leaders such as Jeremy Corbyn was shown up for what it is, when Battle of Britain veteran, Harry Leslie Smith tweeted disgustedly: “As a RAF veteran of WW2 I’m not offended by Corbyn not singing #nationalanthem but I am offended by politicians who sell guns to tyrants”.


About janefae

On my way from here to there
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