Follow This Royal Etiquette Rule When Serving Breakfast Pastries

The royal family is famous for their strict dining etiquette at formal meals — although that said, Queen Elizabeth could also be pretty casual when she wanted to be. For instance, while at Balmoral Castle, the queen enjoyed eating dinner on a tray on her lap while watching the British TV show, Doctor Who.

Yet official occasions were — and still are — another matter. Royals have many intricate rules to follow, as do their guests. For instance (as explained by Marie Claire), at royal banquets no one should begin eating before the queen — and once she finishes, you're expected to lay down your cutlery too. In other words, it really doesn't pay to be a slow eater at a Buckingham Palace state dinner. And as Delish points out, there are even etiquette rules around who you can speak to at a formal royal meal — and when. For instance, you should always speak to the person on your right until the second course, after which you turn to the person on your left. It might sound strange but like a lot of seemingly weird etiquette rules, there is a good reason behind it — this way, you make sure that no one is left out in the cold, conversation-wise. But while royal guests have to navigate a labyrinth of careful behaviors at evening meals, what about breakfast time?

Remember this when a royal offers you croissants

If you ever find yourself enjoying a gossipy breakfast with a member of the royal family, then first things first — you're going to have to up your teacup game. There is actually a correct way to hold a tea cup, which is with your index finger and thumb against the top of the handle, while your middle finger should keep the bottom steady (via Reader's Digest). Also, pour tea into the cup first and milk second — and when stirring, never let your teaspoon clatter against the sides. Finally, you don't have to stick your pinky out when drinking tea — it's a myth and royals never do it.

British etiquette expert, Grant Harrold — former butler to King Charles — also has a specific tip about pastries. Apparently, when offering around a plate of baked items, you should always let your guests take theirs first. What's more, you should never take more than one pastry (via The Royal Butler). This will put you in a pretty agonizing situation if you can't decide between the pain au chocolat, cinnamon bun, or Danish — and let's face it, we've all been there. 

The queen's surprising breakfast favorite

That said, the queen wasn't particularly partial to pastries or anything too fancy for breakfast, as a general rule. According to Delicious, her tastes were a whole lot simpler. Usually, she'd tuck into humble Kellogg's Cornflakes that she'd pour for herself out of a plastic container, alongside Darjeeling tea with no sugar.

She was also pretty partial to kippers, an old-fashioned British breakfast dish of cured herring that has been opened, cleaned, salted, and smoked (via Britannica). According to The Express, during World War II, when she was still the young Princess Elizabeth, this wasn't really a dish familiar to the royals. But one day at Windsor Castle, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret noticed a delicious aroma wafting from the staff quarters. They followed their noses to the housekeeper's door, knocked on it, and were invited inside for fried kippers. After that, it became a breakfast and suppertime favorite of the Queen.

So now you know — if royalty ever comes knocking at your door, make sure that there are hot-buttered kippers ready in the pan — and that you mind your Ps and Qs when holding your teacup.