From The Book of Fashionable Life by A Member of the Royal Household (London, n.d.)
The Drawing Room is more than usually brilliant on what is emphatically termed “a Collar Day,” when the Knights of the Garter, St. Patrick, the Thistle, and indeed of all orders, appear in the presence of the Sovereign in their respective collars and jewels, thereby heightening the rich display of magnificence at all times visible at a Drawing Room. The following is the rota of Collar Days held at the ancient palace of St. James:—January 1st and 6th February 2nd and 24th; March 1st, 17th, and 25th April 23rd and 25th; May 1st, 24th, and 29th June 20th, 24th, 28th, and 29th; July 25th August 24th; September 21st and 29th; October 18th and 28th; November 1st, 5th, and 30th; December 21st and 25th; together with Easter Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; Ascension Day; Whit Monday and Tuesday; and also Trinity Sunday.
No one should presume to go through the ordeal of presentation without much preliminary training; for, with the best social education and self-possession a person may be utterly at fault in the Queen’s drawing room. It is surprising, nevertheless, with how much tact the amiable sex acquire the conventionalities of this grand reunion; while men, who have been admired for ease and grace elsewhere, are at first little removed from gauche. A person of great nerve once informed us that he never felt himself so completely deserted by this quality, as when he was presented to George the Fourth. And still more of gallantry and delicacy are requisite in paying respect to a young, lovely, and accomplished Queen.
In kissing Her Majesty’s hand, the left arm of the party presented (while kneeling) should be placed under the Queen’s right arm, just above the wrist, so as to support it. The utmost grace should be exercised in this act of homage. The kiss should be merely a movement of the lips. Excepting on rare occasions, the Queen always stands to receive the company at the Drawing Room; and we lay the more stress on this, as many have most erroneously asserted that Her Majesty sits during the whole time of reception.
One of the most splendid coups d’ceilat the Drawing Room is that afforded in witnessing the vast assemblage of the beauty and elegance of the English aristocracy, whilst waiting in the corridors of St. James’s Palace for their carriages. This spacious avenue is generally so crowded as to cause a great delay to those who have attended the Drawing Room; and these titled personages have been known to wait upwards of two hours before theircarriages have been enabled to approach the palace.
A very general mistake prevails as to the Dress of gentlemen at drawing rooms. “Silk stockings” are supposed to be indispensable, whereas the Prince, as Field Marshal, wears the high boots; as do also the Duke of Cambridge, and His Grace the Duke of Wellington. Boots, too, are proper for all in military costume.
In the quadrangle, facing Marlborough House, is placed the Guard of Honour, furnished by the Life Guards, attended by their splendid band, in their State clothing, with their silver kettle drums (valued at one thousand guineas), the gift of King George III. and George IV. to these gallant regiments. The elegance of the carriages and horses of the Foreign Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, and great Officers of State, in the Ambassadors’ Court at St. James’s Palace, is proverbial; the ensemble has a striking appearance, and is worthy inspection. We now conclude, having entered elaborately into a review of this most august ceremonial, and with the consciousness that our statements are unimpeachably correct.