If you plan to squander a perfectly good chance to sleep in Saturday morning by watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding, at least do it right. TV coverage starts at 3 a.m. Twin Cities time, a full three hours before the ceremony, so you should, too. Here are some things you can swot up on (the Brits’ version of cramming for a test) so you can be British for a day:
You’re going to be watching all the hoopla on the telly. You can call it the idiot box, but whatever you do, don’t call it the boob tube, which has a completely different connotation in British slang.
Head of the class
If you have guests over, divide them into classes. Give some seats right in front of the TV and a hot breakfast. Others get to watch, but nothing to eat. The rest should be relegated to another room where they can kinda-sorta overhear what’s going on. That’s how it’s going to be at the wedding. Of the 1,200 folks invited into the church, only about 200 get to hang around for the reception being thrown by Harry’s dad, Prince Charles. At least they’ll be better off than the 2,600 poor souls who can enter the castle grounds, but have to stand outside.
It’s a hat, not a flower pot
Staying in your PJs is fine, but you may want to get togged out. Men are expected to wear business suits or old military uniforms. (For the Brits, that means something from the 18th century, not the uniform you wore at boot camp 30 years ago.) Women should wear outrageous hats that appear to have been inspired by the upside-down flower pots worn by the ’70s rock group Devo.
Butting in line
Meghan will enter the church before her bridesmaids do. That doesn’t mean she’s in a hurry to get this over with. British tradition is the reverse of ours. In addition, the groom faces away from the bride until she arrives at the altar. So Harry isn’t being rude by ignoring her entrance — unless, of course, he’s playing Pokémon Go on his phone.
The name game
If you mention the queen, you simply must refer to her as Queen Elizabeth II, unless you are of Scottish heritage, in which case she’s Queen Elizabeth I. Scotland never declared fealty to the original Elizabeth, choosing to remain loyal to her rival, Mary, Queen of Scots. Even though we’re talking about something that happened 450 years ago — and you thought you could hold a grudge — they still insist on pointing out that the current queen is the first Elizabeth to rule Scotland.
Even though it’s past breakfast time across the pond, our clocks — and stomachs — say otherwise. Beans on toast (which is exactly what it sounds like and just as disgusting) is an early morning favorite among the Brits. Also popular on toast is Marmite, which is the brand name of a salty, brown, glue-like paste made from yeast. And, of course, there’s always that good old standby, the crumpet, a cousin of a muffin that’s made from batter rather than dough.
The Brits do eat some of the same things we do, just with different names. Sausages are bangers. What they call pancakes we’d more likely describe as crêpes. And bacon refers to what we call Canadian bacon. You can serve our version during your wedding-watching event, but call it side bacon or streaky bacon.
No flower power
Meghan will not take part in the clichéd throwing of the bouquet. The guest list is dominated by heads of state from all over the world, and it wouldn’t be dignified for them to be jumping into a mosh pit to fight for a handful of leftover flowers. Instead, there’s a touching tradition of royal wedding bouquets being presented to the Unknown Warrior, the British equivalent of our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Doing the wave
While cameras will be watching their every move all day long, the most pressure-filled moment for the newlyweds will be when they are judged on how well they execute the royal wave. This comes after the ceremony, when the bride and groom parade out of the church, climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage and tour the city of Windsor.
Executing the wave properly is crucial. The arm is held close to and parallel with the body, bent up at the elbow. The actual wave is a small, back-and-forth swish of the hand as if trying to shoo away gnats. Nothing else should move. (You can practice this on your guests as they take their leave.)
Waving is about the only official duty left for British royalty, especially for someone like Harry, who is so far down the line of succession Mr. Bean has almost as good a chance of occupying the throne. If Harry and Meghan can pull off this tricky maneuver, they can live happily ever after.