Q. How does one address the pretenders to the French, Imperial German and Austro-Hungarian thrones in correspondence?
Would it be proper to address the letters to "His Majesty King Henri VI of France," "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Louis Ferdinand," "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Otto," if one really believes the gentlemen in question are the king of France, the emperor of Germany, and the emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, respectively? Is it more appropriate to address them some other way? How should I open and close the letters? How should I address the envelopes?
I request your guidance on this odd matter because you can answer even the strangest questions with ease.
A. No matter how ardently you believe in the divine right of kings -- and Miss Manners presumes that these personages feel at least as strongly about the matter as you do -- a person who has never been crowned (as opposed to a deposed monarch whom you nevertheless prefer to succeeding revolutionaries) is not addressed as if he had been.
The titles of your correspondents are, respectively, His Royal Highness Monseigneur Henri d'Orleans, Count of Paris (although he just hates having the title translated from the French); His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, and His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto of Austria and Prince of Hungary (who actually prefers being addressed as Dr. Habsburg). In addressing envelopes, a second line is started after "Highness."
If you care for flourishes (why does Miss Manners suspect you might?), you can open the letter with "Your Royal (and Imperial) Highness" and close it with "I have the honor (or honour) to remain, Sir, Your Royal (and Imperial) Highness's obedient (or most obedient) servant."
But "Sir" and "Respectfully yours" are correct, too. We republicans prefer them, but then, we republicans probably wouldn't be writing the letters you contemplate.
Q. Every year a Christmas party is arranged by the employees at the local center of the large international company that my husband works for. Volunteers do the organizing, and tickets are sold during business hours.
It has been suggested that most employees would be more comfortable if the management and supervisors did not attend. The company in no way contributes, either financially or by providing the place, etc., but since tickets are sold at the office, I can see no way to exclude certain individuals without being rude. My husband feels that it's okay for employees to make it an "Hourly Paid Employee Party," since they are paying for it.
A. Do the executives of this company have any functions for the top level only, without feeling obliged to include the lower-ranking employees? Do they even agonize over whether it is necessary to do so?
Miss Manners rather suspects that inclusiveness is not always the rule; businesses are not social circles, where everyone is equal. She sees nothing wrong in the employees politely defining their own party so that it is clear that their bosses are not included. She can well imagine that the employees would have a jollier, not to mention safer, party by themselves.
I have always wanted to keep my relationships with professors, employers and other superordinates strictly professional. Is there a diplomatic way to avoid answering their probing personal questions without turning them against me?
Miss Manners trusts that the kind of probing personal question you mean is not "When are you going to finish that assignment I gave you two weeks ago?" but "How come you're not married yet?"
The polite way to reject inappropriate inquiries is to omit the first sentence that springs to mind ("None of your business") and carry on the conversation from there. A weak smile would thus polish off the second question Miss Manners gave as an example, while you supplied the answer to the first. Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.