DEAR MISS MANNERS: In regard to Americans bowing to royalty, I firmly agree with you that bowing in subservience to another person is out of the question. (I would assume that a bow to a Japanese person is different, since both parties bow as a sign of respect.)
But what would be the protocol if one were to meet Queen Elizabeth in England? Would the circumstances change if the visit was at her palace vs. a public venue?
I have no plans to meet any royalty anytime soon, but I am curious as to how it would be handled.
GENTLE READER: Unless, heaven forbid, you are an envoy of the U.S. government who has been sent to deliver a retroactive surrender to our former British rulers, you should not pay obeisance to the queen.
We fought hard not to have to do so. Why give in now? The next thing we knew, she'd be taxing our tea and impressing our sailors.
Miss Manners assures you that the British have now accepted the loss of their American colonies with good grace and do not expect Americans to kneel to their queen anywhere.
Japan is more complicated, quite aside from the fact that we won a war there, too. The order and angle of bowing to different people are both significant, so that unless you are a student of Japanese etiquette, you are likely to be sending wrong, if not insulting, signals.
Fortunately, the Japanese are polite enough to make allowances for ignorant foreigners. As foreign royals generally realize that non-subjects who bow to them are doing so from ignorance, not from the intention to surrender.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do you handle women who shamelessly flirt with your husband in front of you? This happens frequently at a club we belong to where there are many widows and divorcees -- wealthy women looking for a man.
GENTLE READER: You do not handle them. Your husband does. How you handle him later in private is up to you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband committed suicide at home. This obviously was a tragic event for me and my young son.
We had a public viewing, and a client, his wife and his daughter attended. This client is, and has continuously been, very abusive to me and my company, and in a recent email accused me of not personally thanking him for attending the viewing by email, card or phone call. I did thank him while at the viewing.
What is appropriate? Should I have sent cards to all attendees?
GENTLE READER: What makes you think that this client might be an authority on etiquette?
His demand to be lauded for the simple decency of paying respects to the dead? His berating you, especially in the midst of such a tragedy? His previously abusive behavior?
Had he written you a letter of memories and condolences, or had he done something helpful -- brought meals, performed errands -- he would have deserved a letter of thanks. Miss Manners assures you that your thanks for his offering you sympathy at the viewing was sufficient. That is, if he did actually offer you any sympathy.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)