(This is a series of posts from a class I taught at R.U.M.)
Retainers: Most of the time, the royalty will bring at least one set (two people) of retainers with them. These retainers are to be considered the “head” retainers for TRMs for the day and should be the primary contact between any of your local staff and the royalty. When the local groups also provide retainers, this is a great relief to the head retainers and allows them some time for breaks. If the royalty have a lead retainer or a retainer manager on their staff (check their website or ask the chamberlain a few weeks before the event), work with this lead retainer regarding the scheduling of local retainers for TRMs. This will help in setting up the appropriate time-slots in which retainers would be most beneficial. For example, if the royalty won’t be on site until 10am, there is no need to start your sign-up sheet at 9am. If the royalty will be in peerage meetings for three hours, there will be no need to have retainers signed up for that time period. Usually the royalty will use their own retainers for retaining in court. But, again, check with the chamberlain well in advance of the event because every set of royalty does things a little differently. Getting people to sign up for retainer shifts can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Royalty understands this. As much as you encourage new people to do a shift as a retainer, do so only when they can do that shift with someone who is a little more experienced. When the royalty needs something done, the new person likely won’t know what to do or who they’re supposed to go talk to. Having people new to the SCA as retainers is a great opportunity but they shouldn’t be hampered by not knowing what to do when the royalty actually needs them to do something. It would be beneficial if, at a local group meeting prior to the event that a retaining primer be reviewed. His Grace Eliahu and Maestra Arianna have an excellent document about retaining. It explains titles, etiquette, dos and don’ts, etc. Check in/out with TRMs lead retainer, not with TRMs. The retainers do not need to interrupt TRMs conversations to announce a change in the retainers.
Porters: Porters are another source of tremendous help to royalty. There are several items of regalia associated with being royalty and all that regalia contributes to the “show” that royalty have to put on at every event. Porters help by taking on the following tasks: carry things from TRM’s vehicle to where they belong, help set things up, move things during the day (like thrones from the daytime presence to court), help to tear-down at the end of the day and load things back into TRM’s vehicle. While this is very much appreciated, local porters MUST take direction from TRM’s personal staff. Porters who just take control often will do (and have done) things that are contrary to TRM’s wishes. Things can go missing (and have). Things might get broken (this has happened, too). Things don’t get packed correctly into their respective containers. Things don’t get loaded back into the vehicle in the appropriate Tetris-like fashion that allows everything to fit. All of these things happen despite everyone’s best intentions.
Porter Tips: This list is not inclusive but it gives people things to consider.
- Unless told otherwise, if you don’t know where something goes and you can’t find the person to ask, take it to the royalty room. Don’t walk a suitcase over to the rapier list and set it down there assuming someone will notice it later. Her Majesty’s shoes may be in there. You don’t want her walking around the event without shoes, right? (Yes, this really happened.)
- Don’t assume everything comes out of the vehicle. Wait for direction.
- If you’ve never set up the thrones, watch and help. It’s not as obvious as you’d hope.
- The back-cushions for TRM’s thrones are wedges with the wide part of the wedge at the top (this helps the royalty to sit up straight and not look like they are slouching).
- Never lift the thrones by the back of the chair. The back is not attached. Use two people on each throne and lift by the seat pegs.
- When placing the thrones in The Presence or in court, there is a specific way to do it but there may also be circumstances that change that placement. If it is only one set of royalty present, the Queen sits to the King’s right (like he’s driving the kingdom and she’s in the passenger seat). If no one is around to ask, then use this configuration. Heirs may be split to either side of TRMs or may sit next to each other, to the left of HisRM, unless the Queen is not present, then TRHs go to HisRM’s right. TRMs will decide. Placement of visiting royalty and Territorial Barons and Baronesses can also add complexity to placement. It is good to be familiar with the appropriate protocols in this regard but, consult TRMs for their preferences. Think of it like this: The most ranked person there is the King. The second is the Queen so she sits at His right hand. The next couple (likely, TRHs) sit in the next most prominent place, at the King’s left hand. Placement will continue in this manner (alternating right and left). Usually you will keep couples together.
- When dismantling the thrones, it is very important all pieces go into the appropriate bags (they are marked) and that the pegs that hold the thrones together go into the separate bags for HisRM and HerRM. Imagine Her Majesty’s surprise when she goes to an event the next weekend while His Majesty goes to a different event and they find out that all the pegs are in His Majesty’s throne bag. (Yes, this really happened)
- Always roll banners with the design to the inside and put them in the correct bag (His/Hers).
- Unless directed to do so, do not attempt to load TRM’s vehicle without direction. There is likely a way that works best for packing their vehicle. Some royalty have items transported in multiple vehicles.
Fees: While not required, it is customary in the Middle Kingdom to not charge the Royalty a site fee or a fee for the feast. Also, while not required, it is also a generous gesture and provides greater convenience when one set of retainers has their site and feast fees comp’d.
Troll/Gate: Inform your staff who are working at the gate for your event that Royalty will be there and approximately when they are due to arrive (you can get this information from the chamberlain). It would be very useful to your staff if you provide a 1-page sheet that is easily accessible that has pictures of the royalty, their names (and their staff who will join them at the event), and the information they need upon their arrival. This information includes the location of the royalty room, where to park their vehicle for unloading the presence, where the fighting is taking place (to unload armor), and where to park for the day. It’s also a good idea that the gate staff knows where the royalty liaison is located. A royalty liaison that has a good staff performing tasks should be free to be at the gate before TRMs arrive and can answer all the questions personally upon their arrival. As royalty, it is not uncommon for people at the gate to have no idea who the royalty are. The gate staff often feels very embarrassed when they find out that this couple in front of them is the King and Queen. That is why a 1-page document for them is helpful.
Visiting Royalty: Tell TRMs (via their Chamberlain) about any royalty you know who will also be attending your event. They may not have heard and it would be nice if they had time to prepare a gift for the visiting royalty.
Accommodations: There are many options for how accommodations are lined up for the Royalty attending an event. If the hosting group is not providing any overnight accommodations, it is okay to indicate that. But, do so early so that the royalty can take advantage of discounts from making their reservations early. Most of the time, the royalty make their own accommodations. But, if your group can, below are some recommendations:
- Hotel: If it is in the group’s budget, getting the royalty a hotel room for the event is an excellent contribution. The group can log it as a donation to the Royal Travel Fund (your Exchequer should know how to do this or can contact the Kingdom Exchequer for instructions). If you choose to provide this, you should work with TRM’s chamberlain. A safe bet is a room with two double/queen beds (royalty and a set of retainers). If you take this route, make the communications early. Some royalty start making reservations as soon as they know which events they will be attending (early reservations can often be secured at reduced rates). You don’t need to get a top-of-the-line suite with a Jacuzzi. The royalty need a clean place to sleep and shower that is as close to the site as possible. If there are no showers at the event site, and if the hotel is just a few miles away, the fighting royalty can head back to the room to shower before court.
- Crash Space: Providing crash space can be “iffy” at times and a wonderful friend-making adventure at other times. While it’s often very fun to get to know new people, it can be a bit challenging to do so for the first time by being put into the home of someone you’ve never met or barely know. The hosts may also feel very uncomfortable that these total strangers in their home are the royalty. Other things to consider are pet aversions and allergies. You might think Foofie is the most adorable pooch and your closest friends don’t mind when your 30 pound puppy thinks she’s a lap dog. Be clear in your communications with TRM’s chamberlain all the details about crash space. Be sure the hosts understand the royalty may be arriving very late on a Friday night and may prefer to get right to bed (i.e. the hosts shouldn’t expect to have the royalty stay up late that night socializing – though, they might need an hour to decompress from the drive and welcome a little social time). If the royalty is expected to bring their own bath linens or bed linens, be sure this is communicated well in advance. What about Saturday night? The royalty may want to go to a post revel. Is that going to be at the crash-space home, some place near, etc? If the royalty goes to a post-revel, will this be an inconvenience to the crash-space hosts if the royalty closes down the post-revel at 4am? Will the hosts be feeding the royalty? Keep everyone in-the-know.
- Camping: Preferences about camping are as varied as the royalty. Some love it and will camp at every opportunity. Some hate it and would prefer an hour drive from a hotel to the event site. You can expect that there will be nothing consistent. Again, communication is the key. If camping means a cabin on-site but the royalty needs to bring bed linens for bunk beds, be sure they know. If camping means that the hosting group is providing a tent but nothing in it, let the royalty know. If camping means the camp fee is comp’d but nothing is provided, let them know so they can make the appropriate decisions regarding their accommodations. Run through all the possible scenarios in your head and know that all those possibilities will exist and probably some you didn’t think of.
- None: It is acceptable to not provide any overnight accommodations to the royalty. It is not required or expected. It is simply one of those things that can make things easier for the royalty. Regardless of what your group chooses to do about accommodations for the royalty, communicate early, completely (include addresses, phone numbers, confirmation numbers, etc.) and be sure the communication was received and understood.
Gifts/Donations: Many people want to make gifts for the royalty but just aren’t sure what to make. Below are some of the better ideas.
- Most useful for the job of being royalty: Gift cards for gas, gift cards for chain restaurants (food while traveling is no longer reimbursed through the royal travel fund)
- Very Welcome: Quality items that can be re-gifted to show the generosity of the royalty. Rule of thumb: If it’s something you wouldn’t want to have gifted to you, don’t give it to the royalty. Also, go take a look at their website. If they have a thank you page, you can see if they have already received 40 bars of soap.
- Very Welcome: Items that can be given to people who earn awards in court. There are usually plenty of award tokens in the possession of royalty. Before presenting them with 50 new Purple Fret tokens, ask their chamberlain. There might already be 70 Purple Fret tokens in stock but no Willows. Also, being able to hand out other items WITH the award token is very cool for the recipient.
- Gift Ideas (for re-gifting): Consider items you might like to have.
- High quality hand-made pouches
- Wire-woven bracelets
- Hand-made blank books
- Hand-dipped beeswax candles
- Jewelry of lamp-work beads
- Hand-made pottery mugs and shot glasses
- Glass-blown drinking vessels
- Handwoven trim
- Lucet cord
- Hand-tooled leather belts
- Wax tablets
- Blackwork embroidered trim
- Coins struck/cast for TRM’s reign
- Silk veils
- Cloak clasps
- Molded Beeswax (for waxing strings)
- Spices (good gifts for cooks)
- Illumination supplies (good gifts for the scribes of the kingdom)
- Favors: Pennsic, Gulf Wars, Champions, cross-over fighters, Page School, etc.
- Items for other royalty: things in the colors of other kingdoms that can be included in royalty gift exchanges
- Nearly anything that is hand-made and high quality is good for re-gifting
- Avoid: Large quantities of items like soap, jams and jellies, store-bought candles, bags of tea, plastic jewelry
- Children’s gifts: Consider choking hazards; consider the ages of the intended recipients to whom TRMs will gift these items
- Gifts should include an itemized list of the contents of the gift and the full SCA names of all those who contributed to the gift. Please do this even if the gift is being handed to the royalty in-person. The day is busy and there is a lot to remember. The royalty try very hard to not look harried but there will be moments throughout the day when they are. Having all the correctly spelled names of those who contributed to the gift allows the royalty to thank them correctly.
- There is a difference in giving a gift to the “Midrealm Crown” and giving a gift to the people who are currently the royalty. The difference is whether the gift is considered something that all royalty (now and in the future) will enjoy or a personal gift only for the current people carrying the titles of king and queen. It’s usually pretty obvious but not always. Be clear either way.
Showers on site: Please let TRM’s chamberlain know if showers are available on-site. No one likes a post-fighting stinky king, especially the queen.
Entertainment: The opinions about entertainment are as varied as the royalty. Some want to have singing and musical concerts all day. Some don’t want any of that. Some prefer music as background/ ambiance. If you have entertainers who want to provide entertainment to the royalty, please contact TRM’s chamberlain to determine their preferences.
Post Revels: This is not last on the list because it is the least important. It’s just the last thing to occur in the events of the day. Please let the Royalty know about post-revels that are going on in the area. Not all will attend but some will. None will attend if they don’t know about them. Don’t just “tell” them or their staff. Provide written information including an actual address, the phone number of a person who will answer their phone if the royalty gets lost, clear directions, etc. Some royalty really enjoy meeting with other SCA people outside the confines of an event. Some royalty are exhausted by the end of an event and just want to go get some sleep. It’s a fun part of our game when we get to be social without all the “hats” and titles. If you never give the royalty the opportunity to hang out, they never will.