Julie Andrews is an Etiquette Icon in The Princess Diaries

Doesn’t everyone’s grandmother tie them to a chair to learn posture?

Previously: Emily Gilmore: Etiquette Hero

I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I love The Princess Diaries. It’s great! It has royalty, a great makeover, pre-annoying Anne Hathaway [ED NOTE: What is everyone’s deal with Anne Hathaway?! She seems totally normal!], the guy from Rooney, and of course, the amazing Julie Andrews.

So in case you haven’t seen it (and we can’t be friends anymore), what happens is Anne Hathaway has bushy hair, bushy eyebrows (individually glued on, it turns out!), and glasses, so she is invisible and awkward and “ugly.” Her long lost grandmother, Julie Andrews, appears in San Francisco and tells Anne Hathaway that she is Queen Clarisse of Genovia and that Anne Hathaway is actually Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princess of Genovia. Cue much freaking out. A deal is struck that Mia will attend Princess Lessons with Queen Clarisse for a few weeks before making a decision of whether to step into her role as heir to the throne or to decline it at the grand Genovian ball (which is inexplicably being held in San Francisco.) During these Princess Lessons, Queen Clarisse dispenses great wisdom:

  • I can teach you to walk, talk, sit, stand, eat, dress, like a princess.
  • Does your bad posture affect your hearing?
  • When walking in a crowd, one is under scrutiny all the time. So we don’t schlump like this.
  • We drop the shoulders, we think tall, we tuck under and we transfer the weight from one foot to the other.
  • Princesses never cross their legs in public. Why don’t you just tuck one ankle behind the other and places the hands gracefully on the knees?
  • And so you wave to them and acknowledge them gracefully. Not quite so big because of course it’s very exhausting after a while. Waving, even more gently, you sort of say “thank you for being here today.”
  • Very good. A diplomatic answer; polite, but vague.

Mia: Grandma, is it customary in Genovia to imprison your dinner guests with Hermies scarves?

Clarisse: It’s Hermes. The scarf is merely a training tool. Eventually you will learn to sit and eat properly without it. Manners matter!

Queen Clarisse’s princess reading list:

  • Emma
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • A Room of One’s Own

Mia: Do you have any spare change?

Clarisse: No, it’s not appropriate for royalty to jingle.


Mia: Would you like to slide in first?

Clarisse: I never slide.


Other Great Etiquette Scenes:

Mia attends the Genovia State Dinner at the Embassy. She succeeds in walking down a staircase by herself, but once dinner starts, all hell breaks loose. She accidentally sets someone on fire. She takes a much too large scoop of palate cleansing sorbet and gets an instant painful headache, forcing the Genovian Prime Minister and his wife to copy her (out of a misguided sense of good manners.) Queen Clarisse remains calm and simply tries to diffuse the situation by making humorous remarks to the Japanese ambassador, who is having none of it. (Also note during this scene, Queen Clarisse is wearing a tiara, which is an appropriate even look for a formal state dinner.)

Mia tries to get everyone’s attention for a speech by tapping her glass with her knife, but naturally breaks it instead (the kind waiter say “it happens all the time” [perhaps a reference to the famous escargot scene from Pretty Woman?][ed: when I was trying to find the scene I found out that it IS a reference and is in fact the same actor (both Gary Marshall movies!)])

During the “famous Genovian pear and cheese dessert” Queen Clarisse catches Mia eating with her fingers and subtly signals to use her knife and fork. Which of course leads Mia to knock a grape off her plate and go searching under the table for it which sets off a chain of events in which a guest trips over her, knocks into the waiter who pours a pitcher of water on another guest, who jumps up bumping into another waiter who tosses a tray of fruit everywhere, which lands of the Japanese ambassador’s plate. Fortunately the ambassador who had seemed bored the whole evening bursts out laughing and everything is fine.

Mia is afraid her grandmother will be mad at her, but Clarisse says it was very funny and reminded her of her first state dinner where she knocked over a suit of armor and the spear went right through the suckling pig.

Mia takes her grandmother out for some non-royal fun (going to the Musee Mechanique, which is a real and fun place in San Francisco!) but unfortunately, Mia’s Mustang has no luck against San Francisco’s famous hills and they end up rolling backwards into a cable car. The police officer wants to arrest Mia, but with some quick thinking, Clarisse elegantly thanks them for doing their duty and bestows upon them the “Genovian Order of the Rose” thus calming the situation and convincing them to let Mia go.

And hey, all of those princess lessons worked out, because in the end, Mia chooses to be Princess of Genovia officially and for real (although, Queen Clarisse gives her a tiara to wear, and really, unmarried women aren’t supposed to wear them, even if they are princesses.)


And some extra wisdom from Joe the bodyguard:

No one can quit being who they really are. Not even a princess. Now you can refuse the job, but you’re a princess by birth.


4 thoughts on “Julie Andrews is an Etiquette Icon in The Princess Diaries

  1. Pingback: Paul Walker: Etiquette Hero | Uncommon Courtesy

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  3. Pingback: All The Food, Drink, & Home Products We Tried & Loved In July – Sun x Prism

  4. Pingback: All The Food, Drink, & Home Products We Tried & Loved In July – fashionsaloon

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