Okay, so I've been reading about being presented at court, and how the lady had to wear a three yard long train (oh goodness, bare shoulders and back... and feathers! I feel the urge to draw coming on). And there is a major conflict for my logical mind that doesn't seem to have much sense.
It's easy enough to walk up to the queen.... but how did they back away from her without stepping on her gown?
HOW?! With a three yard long train! Wouldn't she trip? Or were they allowed to make a side step and let it drag next to her? Or did somebody pick it up for her? Or could she elegantly pick up the train and carry it on her arm?
Post by Goblin, esq. on Mar 14, 2008 17:00:32 GMT -5
Remember that Queen Charlotte was a stickler for protocol, and conservative enough to insist that all women at court wore hoops. So they did - with their empire-waisted gowns. The result was a bit... odd looking. There are some pictures at:
Post by Goblin, esq. on Mar 15, 2008 16:38:19 GMT -5
Unfortunately my book (which is on Swedish court dress) doesn't mention what one does with one's train after a presentation. During the Regency era, the ladies would stand in a half-circle, in order of rank, each debutante on the right of the lady who was to present her. Trains were spread out. The queen and entourage entered, bowed to the ladies, who all curtsey deeply, then the queen went down the line as each young lady was introduced by the chief-lady-in-wating.
Many years later this changed to the ladies being presented entering individually. Each lady would arrange the train of the preceeding lady, just before she entered the room. Unfortunately the book skips right from the curtsey to the queen to the tea and cakes that were served later....
There are a number of photographs from the 20th century of court ladies with their trains draped over the left arm. including in the afore-mentioned tea-and-cake line.
To keep this about the Regency era, there are photographs in this book of two magnificent trains that originally belonged to the Empress Josephine, and were part of the dowry of her grand-daughter, who became queen of Sweden. At least one train was still being used in the 20th century.
he presentations took place at St. James's Palace at events called Drawing Rooms, where the monarch and/or his Queen received those attending Court. Presentation Drawing Rooms were held two or three times a week during the Season. Based on letters and diaries of the time, it was so stressful an experience that it was regarded more as a duty than a pleasure. The young woman to be presented stood sometimes for hours (one never sat in the presence of the Queen) waiting for her name to be announced by the Lord Chamberlain. She then walked to where the Queen sat and made a deep curtsy — which had been practiced and practiced while wearing the hooped skirt. A few pleasantries were exchanged, the young woman answering any question the Queen put to her, but no more. When the Queen indicated she was dismissed, the young woman made one more deep curtsey, and then had to walk backwards out of the royal presence (one never turned one's back on the Queen) all the while dealing with the obstacle of her train so as not to trip over it. Stressful indeed!
"It is something for a woman to be assured that in her eight-and-twentieth year, that she has not lost one charm of earlier youth." Anne, Persuasion. I totally agree, I only hope it feels the same at nine-and-twenty.
I've decided you have to make a small side step so your train follows you on the side.... or you shuffle back elegantly (is that possible??) so your train bunches up at your feet and moves with you.
Some of the the court dresses I've seen have odd little trains, that look more like tails to me.
Then again, it doesn't much matter anymore, does it? Georgette Heyer glosses over that part as well -- I guess it's a mystery!
Edit: And I found a reference to court presentations in Queen Victoria's reign. They did pick up their train and drape it over their arm before backing away.... I'm sure that would have to be the case in the Regency period, or at least a great possibility.
Post by Miss Clockwood on Jun 30, 2010 13:20:19 GMT -5
I just read an article that talks about being presented at court, which can be found here: www.likesbooks.com/court.html. Here is a quote from it: "The young woman walked forward, curtsyed to the monarch, then curtsyed again to any other royalties present, stepped back, the gentlemen in waiting threw her train over her arm and she backed out. That short ceremony made her a full fledged member of Society with all the privileges attending. " Hope that helps!
Post by mrsmusgrave on Sept 10, 2010 21:33:42 GMT -5
Fanny Burrney, in her Diary of her years at court says that the ladies kicked the train out of the way as they backed away. The man with the stick who helped straighten the trains before they walked toward the Queen, didn't pick it up until they were out of the room afterward.. Peers' daughters were usually presented when they came out and then again after they married. Whether they were presented before marriage or not, they had to be presented again, after they married if the husband ever went to court. The Queen would kiss the forehead of the peers' wives and daughters. Others kissed the Queen's hands.