Kate Middleton’s news about the loss of her right-hand woman and private secretary, Rebecca Deacon, has made for excitement in the ranks of ambitious personal assistants around the world. Vanity Fair writes that the job of Girl Friday to Middleton, who as wife to Prince William is the present Duchess of Cambridge and the future Queen Consort of England, would put the winning candidate at the center of all things Kate.
Middleton’s secretary would be “the most glamorous possible version” of PAs everywhere. The winning candidate must be prepared to “constantly email and text” with the duchess, to be at Kate’s side wherever she goes, and to inevitably be privy to Middleton’s secrets.
The Kensington Palace job sounds incredibly glamorous, but there are some definite drawbacks. That last requirement, for instance, means that Kate’s secretary is always a target for those hoping to worm out some of those Cambridge secrets and sell stories of Kate’s private life.
The royal family should be given privacy from the media total privacy
— John Dalzell (@JohnD1909) December 23, 2016
The royals are very protective of their privacy and don’t look kindly on anyone who gives in to the temptation of a fat bank account. After all, they pay and treat their staff well, and they come from a class that for centuries employed multiple generations of completely loyal families.
Middleton comes from a commoner family, but she understands very well that her royal in-laws do not tolerate betrayal. Kate’s personal assistant will have to understand that inflexible rule as well.
There are more mundane considerations for anyone hoping to interview for the new job in the Duchess of Cambridge household. Class distinctions are alive and well in England, and Middleton’s right-hand woman will have to come from a class that literally speaks the same language as the royal family.
The class background is already something that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have to face. There are royal watchers who think that Markle just doesn’t have what it takes to make it as a royal family member.
— Elizabeth Adams (@lily_adams14) January 28, 2017
It’s certainly got to be tough for the Markle to figure out some of the completely different meanings that words have in England, let alone to also account for the differences between how words are used by everyday people and how they are used by Prince Harry’s circle.
Kate Fox, the author of Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, is a social anthropologist who knows the ins and outs of the vocabulary that Middleton’s assistant and Markle will both have to have on the tip of their tongues.
Hello magazine writes that there are some words never spoken by the British upper classes except as a joke, and most certainly never so much as whispered during one of Kate Middleton and Prince William’s public appearances. It’s considered better for all concerned if the people meeting Middleton and Prince William also refrain from using the list of “banned” words.
@Harperthewriter oh so very sorry my use of the Queens English was not up to your upper class standards
— martin Laird (@mclairdys) September 16, 2015
Kate’s new helper will have to have a good grasp of the right kind of vocabulary and will also be in charge of keeping adoring fans on the straight and narrow. As Lifestyle writes, a “slip of the tongue or misjudged phrase could quickly make things awkward” when you’re in company with Queen Elizabeth’s family. That challenge also applies to potential new members of the royal family, like Meghan Markle.
Prince Harry to be engaged to Meghan Markle maybe by summer
— Eric Bascom IV (@reaganbetter) March 8, 2017
For Markle, asking to use the bathroom is fraught with a double layer of confusion when she visits Prince Harry. In North America, people refer to the room as a ladies’ room, bathroom, washroom, or restroom, but most English people are much more straightforward. They call the necessary room a toilet.
Many Americans already know that bit of useful British Isles language information, and Markle might have gone to visit Prince Harry thinking that she had a least that aspect of daily life covered.
But royals never say toilet, and they don’t say any of the common words from across the Atlantic. Kate, Prince William and the rest of the Buckingham Palace crowd refer to the room as the lavatory or the loo. Apparently, the English rulers didn’t want to say toilet because it’s a French word, and the two nations were so frequently at war. C’est la vie.
I have learnt that the English lower-class call it 'toilet' & the upper-class call it 'lavatory'. In Australia, we just call it a 'dunny'.
— Tooth Megawitch (@megabichi) August 1, 2011
Another word that could lead to problems is a common one for women who like to wear fragrances. Most people call their chosen fragrance a perfume, but Kate and the rest of Queen Elizabeth’s crowd “never wear perfume. Instead, they spritz on a favoured scent.”
Finally, it’s sometimes difficult to hear what’s said, especially when there’s an unfamiliar accent involved. If Middleton’s replacement for Rebecca Deacon didn’t grow up surrounded by the elite of Great Britain, the new Rebecca might need to ask Kate to repeat a sentence or two.
is it hard to say "sorry" or "i beg ur pardon" if ure unsure of something instead of using "ha?what is it?" "what ?i cant hear u"
— buys (@buyoq) December 13, 2011
For ordinary people, a quick “Pardon?” is the right response. In Kate Middleton’s world, a pardon is something a reigning monarch grants to a convicted criminal. If Kate, or even Queen Elizabeth herself doesn’t catch a comment, their method “cuts straight to the point” with an abrupt “What?” — something that most of us were taught was just bad manners.
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