Royal Etiquette

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

“The wainscoted and wallpapered walls were covered with diplomas and certificates lacquered to gilt-edged walnut plaques in a style that was no longer popular but irreversible. Interspersed among them were photographs of Andrew with people famous enough for Richard to know they were famous, but not famous enough for him to know who they were. The collection of honors included a beribboned letter of appreciation from the palace of a minor prince who had sustained a cardiac event of some kind while visiting the area, whom Andrew, the leading cardiologist in Fairhaven, had successfully attended to. Richard wondered if such an elegant letter would have been received if his friend’s efforts had not been successful, royal etiquette in that case being unclear to him.”


Long ago, I had the privilege of working for an eminent surgeon who had been called in to consult on the case of Pope John Paul II after the attempt on his life in 1981.  Hanging on the wall of his office was a framed letter of appreciation from the Holy See that made an enormous impression upon me at the time.  I’ve used the royal seal of Monaco to illustrate the grandeur of such a communication here because the papacy could hardly be expected to endorse the story line (not that the House of Grimaldi does, for that matter).