Tradition: Retaining 101

First Thoughts

Most of what is critical in retaining comes down to a few things:

  • Be polite – A Courteous demeanor goes a great distance
  • Be aware – of yourself, your surroundings, and the royal you are with
  • Be discreet – Do not reveal anything you may see or hear
What to do, how to do it, and why
  • Your primary purpose is to enable The Royalty to do Their job.
    Retainers shoulder some of the work (large or small) that enables The Royalty to have time to fulfill Their duties and obligations.
  • The retainers also allow our recreation to look and feel “real”.
    You have just become essential to the “show”.
  • How the royal retainers do their jobs is as important as what they do. Be courteous to all.
    The way that the royal retainers interact with The Royalty sets the tone for others. The way that the royal retainers interact with the populace represents The Royalty, and will, for good or ill, form many people’s first impression of who The Royalty are.
  • An important note: By accepting the honored position of Royal retainer you are promising to keep in strictest confidence all that you may see or hear.
    As a royal retainer you may see or hear matters of privacy or confidence. As you value your honor, do not break this confidence.
THE BASICS: Knowing the language
Forms of address
  • King: Your Majesty, My Lord King, King Dag, His Majesty
  • Queen: Your Majesty, My Lady Queen, Queen AnnMarie, Her Majesty
  • Prince: My Lord Prince, Your Highness, Prince John, His Highness
  • Princess: My Lady Princess, Your Highness, Princess Jane, Her Highness
  • Baron: My Lord Baron, Your Excellency, Baron John, His Excellency
  • Baroness: My Lady Baroness, Your Excellency, Baroness Jane, Her Excellency

If you are uncertain of someone’s title, you may always use: “My Noble Lord,” or “My Gracious Lady.”

Learn the correct pronunciations of The Royalty’s names (It’s D-ah-g, not dog, not daug, not daaaag). It is acceptable to ask The Royalty’s personal retainers or The Royalty Themselves to pronounce Their names.

Formal speech

A few simple rules of courteous discourse, to set a more formal tone.

  • Use proper titles (see above)
  • Do not refer to royalty by Their proper name without Their title
  • Do not refer to royalty with pronouns (him, her, they)
  • Speak in complete sentences
  • Begin or end every sentence with the proper title “Your Majesty, Your meeting is…” or “If it please Your Majesty, the court herald requests a moment…” and “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
  • Stay on mission
  • Do not raise your voice
  • Respond to discourtesy with greater courtesy
THE BASICS ¬— Attending the Royals

The Royals should not be left unattended. They may, however, go to the bathroom alone (and there is no rule about the Midrealm crowns and using a bathroom – do not offer to take the crown… they will offer it to be held while They are indisposed if They choose). They may also sit alone if They need time to themselves (this may be on the throne watching a tournament or in the Royalty room – do not expect to be invited into the royalty room). If They are in a room (in a meeting or alone) and you are right outside that room (and They know you are there), They are attended.

The “Basket” or “Satchel” or “Retainer Bag”

There should be a basket or bag available for the retainers that will discretely hold a few useful items. Examples include:

  • tissues or handkerchief
  • a brush or comb
  • lip balm
  • medication
  • tokens
  • a blank book for note taking or for collecting names of those giving gifts to Their Majesties
  • a writing instrument
  • cell phone
  • water
  • a drinking vessel
  • food items preferred by the Royals
  • a timekeeping device
  • a fan
  • the day’s schedule
  • the names of other retainers and their duties/schedule
  • duct tape
  • any personal items the royals may need

You may be asked to retrieve items from the bag or The Royalty will ask for the bag to remove an item Themselves.

Packing, Unpacking, and Setting Up – If you are retaining while The Presence needs to be set up or moved, it is wise to consult with The Royalty or Their “Personal” retainers prior to setting up the Presence.

Accepting gifts – Gifts are always accepted graciously and politely. These are usually presented directly to The Royalty but sometimes they are given to a retainer. Offer what honest compliment you can, or simply accept the gift and take the name(s) and contact information. If presented to The Royalty, ask the presenter for information about the presenter. The contact information is important so the gift can be acknowledged. There should be cards in the retainer bag to record gifts.

Standing and waiting – While attending the Royals, stand close enough that you can hear Them if They call for you, or request something. Do not stand close enough that you are part of Their conversation. You do not need to be a shadow on Their every movement within the few feet around them but be aware and ready if They are moving to another location. If His Majesty stands up from the throne to step behind the throne to check his armor or have a snack, you do not need to be on His heels.

Things you hear and see – In the course of retaining, you may hear and see things of a confidential nature. It probably goes without saying that these things are confidential and should not be repeated. Not to anyone… ever.

Meetings – Wait outside the meeting room unless you are asked to attend or are a part of the meeting. You may be able to take a break here, just be sure you can get back in time. As a rule, any time you step away from attending the Royals, you will want someone available to take your place.

Taking a break or switching off retainers – A day of retaining can be exhausting, mostly because you are doing a lot of nothing. If you are relieving someone, be sure to ask if there is anything you need to be aware of: messages, meetings, schedule changes or other requirements.

A day in the life of a retainer

The Royalty usually have one or more “personal retainers” who are a part of their staff who are available at the event. The Personal Retainers welcome the volunteers of local retainers to help with the retaining duties for The Royalty. You are one of the “local retainers” for the event. If you have questions, ask The Royalty’s Personal Retainers first.

Duties of the local retainer

  • Make certain that food and drink are available to The Royalty – Depending on the time of day, this may simply mean keeping The Royalty’s drinking vessels filled. The Royalty are grown-ups. They do not need to be reminded to eat or drink.
  • You may be asked to invite The Royals’ choices for feast companions to head table (some Royals prefer to make these invitations Themselves)
  • Watch the clock for The Royalty’s schedule (e.g. signing scrolls before court)
  • Do not schedule the Royals time without checking with Them first.

Final Thoughts

Most of what is critical in retaining comes down to a few things:

  • Be polite – A Courteous demeanor goes a great distance
  • Be aware – of yourself, your surroundings, and the royal you are with
  • Be discreet – Do not reveal anything you may see or hear

Thank you to His Grace, Duke Eliahu, and Mistress Arianna for compiling this information about how to be a retainer in the Middle Kingdom.