This post is dedicated to my friend Crystal because she would never forgive me if I didn’t blog this.
Dress code: Summer Cocktail
Googling it didn’t help. As it turns out, everyone has a different opinion of what “summer cocktail” means. Which suggests that no one knows what the right answer is. And so everyone* wore whatever they wanted.
When I was first invited to the British High Commission function at Eden Hall to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I RSVP-ed so quickly (thanks to my iPhone and fast thumbs) it was probably unseemly. It was also a little out of character; I’ve never been a fan of the royals. I remember a friend gushing over a photo of Prince William in a book at the National Library when we were 12, and I just went, “Heh, whatever.”
But what can I say, I’m a kaypoh Singaporean. And as a collecter of experiences, this was one to add to the list.
I combed my hair in honour of the occasion. But I was still wearing my $9 flats.
My dad drove me to Eden Hall. He had met the Queen years back, on her last visit to Singapore, when he performed at a state dinner in the Istana. And here I was, another generation in the Han family, meeting royalty again. I expect this means that my child (if I have one) needs to meet Will and Kate’s grandchild (if they have one), to keep the tradition going.
Friends have been demanding details and gossip, but there is actually very little to tell. I was in one of the last clusters to be introduced, and so they were already running really late by the time they got to us. There was no time for any conversation, and so it was really just a handshake and a hello.
Along with our invitation, we’d been sent a document on etiquette:
When you are invited to meet them you may wish to observe the traditional forms of a simple courtesy including a hand shake, bow or curtsey (although this is up to the individual’s choice).
The formal initial address is ‘Your Highness’ and subsequently for The Duke, ‘Sir’ and for The Duchess, ‘Ma’am (as in ‘jam’).
It could have gone any number of ways, but when it got to my turn I stuck my hand out and said, “HI.” That’s it.
It was kind of like the time when I walked past Helen Clark – while she was still the Prime Minster of New Zealand – in my school and said, “Heya, how’s it going?” Except slightly better, because at least I recognised the Duke before the meeting was over. (To be fair it would have been extremely hard to not recognise him.)
Okay, perhaps so it was more than “slightly better”, because he also said hello back, and then asked if I was coming back from or going to the UK, and I said “going” and then he said he hoped I would have a good time. And then I said thank you. And when he finished going around the room our cluster got to have a group photo with him and his wife.
So, an overall increase in social etiquette cred for the Spud? I think so!
After the event three of us walked out to Forum Galleria and headed straight for MacDonalds. Meeting royalty is fun and all, but it doesn’t fill an empty stomach.
* Who is this “everyone”? As I stood in my corner studying all the other attendees, I couldn’t help wondering who they all are, what they do, how they all seem to know one another and if they actually have dresses like that just lying around in their closets at home. Surely these glamourous partygoers aren’t real people? How can they – in all their makeup and finery – possibly be normal people who have to deal with empty ez-link cards and overly-oily char kway teow? They made me feel even more common than the royals did. But that’s okay. I like being common. And eating char kway teow.