How to Introduce Your Father, The Duke?
Presumably, a Duke’s title is not usually (or ever) the family surname. For the sake of illustration, let’s say there is a British Duke of Highhampton, with the first name of Peter and family surname Cameron. His third son, who works as a minor government official in the Bahamas, introduces him to an American friend who also lives in the Bahamas (and who does not know the family’s history) at a casual lunch. In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.”
What would he say instead? Would a member of the British aristocracy ever simply say “This is my father, Peter Cameron”? If so, presumably the friend would call the father “Mr. Cameron” during the subsequent conversation, intending to show generational respect. However, would a duke find this an offensive come-down from his real title?) Or would it be most plausible that the son would at least say, “This is my father, Peter Cameron, Duke of Highhampton,“ even when the introduction is in a relaxed setting?
— Florence Brook Use of Names in Introductions
Dear Ms. Brook: Use of Names in Introductions
I love this question because superficially it is about addressing nobility, but it really about making introductions. For formal situations the forms of address are fixed by protocol. Casual situations may call for casual forms of address … which are the realm of etiquette. Etiquette allows for the individual to interpret what he or she believes is right for the situation.
Here’s what I think: Use of Names in Introductions
——–#1) The job of the introducer is to provide the names for the people being introduced to use when each responds to the introduction. The son will be in the best position to know what his father will like to be called by his son’s friends and what his friends will like to be called by his father. It is the son’s function as the introducer is to establish the right common ground.
——–#2) Acknowledging the other person’s status … whether a student, military officer, your supervisor, or both father and the holder of a noble title …. is a essential to establishing good communication.
Perhaps the best plan is for the son to brief everyone in advance of what he will do and what he thinks each should call the other, so everyone can enjoy the start of a new friendship. Protocol officers typically brief their bosses on what the “call by” names are for people they are about to meet. It’s really easy … and makes things go smoothly.
——–RE: In an effort not to drop a conversational bombshell (as has happened with past introductions to Americans), the son does not say “This is my father, the Duke of Highhampton.”
Secrets that explode during the event are really planning problems! The purpose of protocol is to establish a stress-free environment so the planned work of the event or meeting can be accomplished.
———————–— Robert Hickey Use of Names in Introductions
Dear Mr. Hickey, Use of Names in Introductions
Thank you for your insight. It’s very kind of you to respond, and charming to me for different reasons, not the least of which is the comment about a secret that explodes. I was once the inadvertent subject at such a moment, and embarrassed a speaker in front of a big roomful of his peers and bosses due to the klutzy job he did introducing me (no loss of face for me, a whole lot of loss of face for him). I don’t believe any of his staff ever had the slightest inkling that they should have been abashed for not briefing him properly. They all just stood around and tsk-tsked him for his faux pas.
I once met an earl at a friend’s house in Oregon. We were hanging around on a summer day in shorts and were introduced by first name only (i.e., not a protocol-officer moment). My friend is rabidly egalitarian, yet even she was quite ready to whisper in my ear that he was an earl. I therefore guess it is unrealistic to think a member of the British aristocracy would ever fail to mention that fact, either prior to an introduction or during, no matter how casual the setting. (A contessa I know is always introduced by only her first and last name, but she points out that her title doesn’t mean anything, since Italy is a republic. And though she feels this way, I knew by the end of our first meeting that she is a contessa. The secret just doesn’t keep.)
The only part of what you said that I wonder about is the assertion that once everyone’s status is on the table, they can go forth and enjoy the start of a new friendship. Perhaps, if the room is full of other people of similar stature (wealth, fame, achievement or position). But if the room contains only one duke and some guys, it seems that the title must inevitably impede genuineness.
Anyway, many thanks again. I ordered your book last night and am looking forward to learning all the things I did wrong when working at the Senator’s office back in the day. Use of Names in Introductions
— Florence Brook Use of Names in Introductions