Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Your most obedient servant
November 7, 2005 10:49 PM   Subscribe

When you write a letter to the Pope, be sure to end it: I have the honor to remain Your Holiness's obedient servant, but for a Cardinal, simply use: Yours very truly. And remember that Emperors are addressed Your dignified Majesty while Kings are just called Your Majesty. Titles can be quite fascinating, for example, Queen Elizabeth is also an official Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Gynecologists and is an Honorary Bachelor of Music at the University of Wales. Even if you don't have those impressive titles, you can definitely find one for you in the giant Dictionary of Occupational Titles (largish html file - my personal favorite is "Fancy packer"); or just go for some obsolete job titles.
posted by blahblahblah (40 comments total)

 
Should you really end it that way if you're not Catholic? Because I don't obey any of the Pope's commands.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:54 PM on November 7, 2005


And Canadians seem to think that the President of the United States should be addressed as "Excellency," which I don't think has been done... Interesting link, anyhoo.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:57 PM on November 7, 2005


I remain your holinesses obedient servant - todd lokken
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:05 PM on November 7, 2005


Because in America, Pomp is right up there with Circumstance.
posted by Balisong at 11:23 PM on November 7, 2005


The obsolete job titles are fun. It's also amazing to see just how many people the industrial revolution left unemployed.
posted by teece at 11:28 PM on November 7, 2005


Should you really end it that way if you're not Catholic? Because I don't obey any of the Pope's commands.

It's Canada. The idea of a non-nominally-Catholic politician beggars belief.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:29 PM on November 7, 2005


On December 8, 1941, Winston Churchill dispatched a letter to the Japanese Ambassador announcing that a state of war exists between England and Japan. Churchill’s letter noted that the Japanese had just bombed Singapore and Hong Kong. Therefore, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Tokyo was instructed to inform Japan that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Japan. Churchill ended the letter with these words:
I have the honour to be, with high consideration,
     Sir, 
          Your obedient servant, 
          Winston S. Churchill
Churchill commented in his wartime memoirs that “Some people did not like this ceremonial style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.” [1]

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:50 PM on November 7, 2005


I always liked the French forms of address. Je vous prie d'agréer, Monsieur le Commissaire, l'expression de ma haute considération. What class.

Although I always found it an oddly human thing, even though it was so stilted, that the ambassadors between warring nations were addressed so. Your armies are shooting the bejaysus out of each other, but the diplomatic staff are always protected and treated well. I guess that's an unbroken line of treatment stretching back to medieval war.
posted by paperpete at 1:29 AM on November 8, 2005


Heywood, I'd always wondered about the provenance of that Churchill quotation -- now finally it makes some sense.
posted by alumshubby at 3:04 AM on November 8, 2005


I want to be an automatic-fancy-machine operator when I grow up!

As for calling POTUS "Excellency", that's a new one on me, as a Canadian. Of course, if you're Carolyn Parrish, you have a whole different title for him. :)
posted by antifuse at 3:24 AM on November 8, 2005


Well, I think "excellency" is just standard for all president's of republics, so although in the USA they prefer "Mr. President" other diplomatic corps might use it. It's an option at least ya know.

I still think you address "I have the honor to remain your Holiness's obedient servant" even if you're not Catholic because service I think just refers to being polite. Like "yours truly" even if I don't like them and may not stay true to them either.

By the way, are chancellor's referred to by excellency? Because I would like to try that one on for size. . .
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:43 AM on November 8, 2005


Wow, it's early. Switch all those possessives to plurals.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:44 AM on November 8, 2005


Interesting. When I wrote to Prince Charles recently telling him to fuck off and calling him a monkey felching bastard, I just wrote Dear Prince Charles, but apparantly I should have written "Your Royal Highness:". Maybe they would have taken me more seriously if I had, because to date, he is yet to fuck off, and I just got a standard reply from his secretary saying "Your comments have been noted".
posted by chill at 3:54 AM on November 8, 2005


Clearly, the form of address should be tailored to the individual president. In the case of the current White House occupant, that would be Your Unsurpassed Incompetency.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:24 AM on November 8, 2005


Well, I think "excellency" is just standard for all president's of republics

Much as "The Honorable" is almost a generic title for any elected official in the US, and could be used without offense.

Walking through some airport Friday, I heard a fragment of whateverthefuck was on TV, where the referred to "Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall." I was amused by the combination of the incorrect styling of HRH The Prince of Wales, and yet the correct styling of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

I think it was just America -- we knew the heir apparent to the UK throne as "Prince Charles", and his first wife as "Princess Diana", but they decided that calling his second wife "Princess Camilla" wouldn't be right.

On preview: Yes, chill, you should have, and it's most amusing to end a screed with "Your obedient servant."

Note, however, that his staff did in fact note your comments. Seen any extra police about?

You could send them a thank you note:
Sirs:

I am writing to thank you for the quick notation of my complaints against His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, that fucktard. As a citizen supporting his free ride, I appreciate your diligence and intention in passing along my utter revulsion at the monkey felching bastard.

I have the honor of remaning Your servant,

Chill.
There's no reason to be informal when informing royalty -- or anybody, really -- of thier fucktardness.
posted by eriko at 5:29 AM on November 8, 2005


good list, but there's one caveat: if at all possible, when writing a letter to the pope or to a Cardinal, one -- Catholic or not -- should use Latin.
posted by matteo at 5:39 AM on November 8, 2005


Great post. The job titles link is a great writing resource. My next story, I think, will feature an AMALGAMATOR falling in love with a CUTCH CLEANER. Their relationship will be great until a GUN-PERFORATOR LOADER, RAWHIDE-BONE ROLLER, and a VENEER-CLIPPER HELPER conspire, tricking the AMALGAMATOR into thinking his CUTCH CLEANER girlfriend has been sleeping with a HARDNESS TESTER. (She was actually sleeping with a HARDNESS INSPECTOR who moonlights as a ROLL-SLICING-MACHINE TENDER!)

Man, this is just writing itself.
posted by dsword at 6:01 AM on November 8, 2005


"ALE-CONNER / ALE FOUNDER - official who tested quality and measure of ale served in public houses"

I'd love that one, but only as a second shift job. On the 7AM-3PM shift I'd rather found coffee and/or tea. Of course this temporal quibbling might not apply to conning the goods at ye brothels.

Your supreme curmudgeonship,
Davy
posted by davy at 6:23 AM on November 8, 2005


It's also amazing to see just how many people the industrial revolution left unemployed.

I don't think AMBER CUTTERs were made jobless as much by the industrial revolution as by the end of commercial whaling in Europe.

But hey, the others on the list lost their jobs, none got new jobs and they all starved to death, thereby contributing to the great population reduction we saw at the same time as the industrial revolution.

No, wait a minute...
posted by spazzm at 6:25 AM on November 8, 2005


I think it was just America -- we knew the heir apparent to the UK throne as "Prince Charles", and his first wife as "Princess Diana", but they decided that calling his second wife "Princess Camilla" wouldn't be right.

"Princess Diana" was never correct either -- it should have been "Diana, Princess of Wales," but I guess the media perferred the other.
posted by JanetLand at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2005


preferred.
posted by JanetLand at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2005


Alexander Hamilton, the engorged fuck on the $10 bill, wanted the presidency to be a life-term office, and the president to be addressed as "your excellency." Can you imagine having to listen to a reporter address Bush so?
posted by scarabic at 6:28 AM on November 8, 2005


I don't see a place for "yours screwly," so I won't be writing to a few of the people on that list.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 6:36 AM on November 8, 2005


Somewhat related are some titles which some with u.s. offices. Dick Cheney, John Roberts, and Bill Frist are automatic members of the Smithsonian Board of Regents.

Somehow, I doubt they go to board meetings. Which is undoubtedly a good thing.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:06 AM on November 8, 2005


JanetLand: We, in the UK tended to refer to Diana as either just "Diana", or "Diana, Princess of Wales", but never "Princess Diana". Interesting.
posted by Lotto at 7:27 AM on November 8, 2005


I like this distinction:

MUFFIN MAKER - maker who made muffins
MUFFIN MAN - itinerant seller of muffins
posted by swift at 7:49 AM on November 8, 2005


Brain Picker (meat products) 525.684-034, wow i guess there is job security for me somewhere!
posted by OU812 at 8:14 AM on November 8, 2005


Given that His Holiness and I suddenly find ourselves on the same side of the evolution debate I would have to address him as "Strange Bedfellow".

let me show you how we kept warm in Traunstein during the war, my son...
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:21 AM on November 8, 2005


Fun post, thanks-
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:44 AM on November 8, 2005


Darling Capitalist Pig,

Give me some money you bastard.

May the fruit of your loins grow fruitful in the belly of your woman,
Neil.

posted by dragstroke at 9:54 AM on November 8, 2005


Agh, 'seed', not 'fruit'. Anyway.
posted by dragstroke at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2005


I'm a little disappointed that I'm the only one who went looking through that list of job titles in search of juvenile double-entendres.

Never did manage to top HOOKER INSPECTOR, though.
posted by arto at 10:07 AM on November 8, 2005


I so want to meet royalty, just to I can politely refer to them by their Christian names, and thereafter, dude. I was also tempted to yell "Hey Connie" at Sir Conrad Black, lord of Crossharbour and Union Station, but I didn't really have anything to say to him.

I was always taught in school that Mr. President was meant to replace you Excellency, which sounded so undemocratic back when we elected our presidents.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 10:17 AM on November 8, 2005


I also wanted to point out that the Queen is also officially a Freeman in the Worshipful Company of Drapers, and a Knight of the Order of the Golden Lion of the House of Nassau of Luxembourg. I don't know which I am more jealous of.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:33 AM on November 8, 2005


I think it was just America -- we knew the heir apparent to the UK throne as "Prince Charles", and his first wife as "Princess Diana", but they decided that calling his second wife "Princess Camilla" wouldn't be right.

Indeed neither "Princess Diana" nor "Princess Camilla" is correct. The first was properly titled HRH Diana, The Princess of Wales (pay attention as the "The" is very important !) as well as numerous lesser titles including the Duchess of Cornwall. Upon her divorce she lost the HRH and also the "The", becoming Diana, Princess of Wales. This right away made room for a new wife to become HRH Esmerelda, the Princess of Wales though it never happened.

Here's the rub though, Camilla is the Princess of Wales (the title comes automatically when you marry the Prince of Wales) - but Buckingham Palace and the couple have chosen to style her as her next ranking title, Duchess of Cornwall. In fact as Princess of Wales and a royal duchess she outranks her sister-in-law The Princess Royal (formerly Princess Anne).

You can only be styled as "Princess [first name]" in Britain if you are the daughter or granddaughter of the monarch. But what to be "styled" as is at the discretion of the titleholder and the monarch. The Queen's cousin's wife, is styled as Princess Michael, an outdated though still correct style.

To add a bit more fuel to the fire, when William or Harry marries their wife will be styled "HRH Grizelda, Princess of Wales" (note no "The"). When Charles becomes King (who knows what happens to Camilla's title - they are writing new chapters with this one...), William becomes The Prince of Wales, his wife becomes The Princess of Wales and Harry and his wife immediately stop using Wales at all, falling onto his next title Prince of Great Britain, and the style "HRH Prince Harry" with his wife as "HRH Clarissa, the Princess Harry".

Last steps: If Harry is already married he gets a royal Dukedom after Charles accedes (they'll have to pull one out of storage as Edinburgh is destined for Edward) - if single he'll get one upon his marriage and become "HRH Prince Harry, the Duke of Dumbledore" and she becomes "HRH Clarissa, the Duchess of Dumbledore".

There, that's more than you ever wanted to know about titles and styles...
posted by AuntLisa at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2005


Idi Amin's official title:

"His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DS, MC, Lord of All Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conquerer of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular."

Wonder if he had a stamp made in order to save him some time?
posted by [hifidigitalboy] at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2005


(applauds dragstroke)

There are some great character names in there too. Badgy Fiddler. Bobbin Turner. Stuff Gowsman. Potato Badger. Prick Louise (who could be a hardness inspector). There's a novel waiting for them, somewhere. hmmmm....
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2005


...oh! and blahblahblah - interesting read, thanks!
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2005


I usually end my letters to GW, Price Chuck and the Pope:

"Smell ya later, Tristeza."

Not cool, then?
posted by tristeza at 5:03 PM on November 8, 2005


Dragstroke: You could have saved yourself double-posting embarrasment simply by ending thussly: "Boomshanka"
posted by scaryduck at 6:40 AM on November 9, 2005


« Older European Wine Fighting For Survival...   |   Newsfilter: Emilia DiSanto, ch... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments