Visitors from around the world are busy confirming and planning their trips to Britain. But how will the influx of tourists get by in a country so consciously governed by manners and etiquette? Well, let's take a look at some quintessentially British points of etiquette.
London looks set to receive nearly half a million visitors during the Olympic Games, many of them from overseas. With the British known for their stiff upper lip, the manners of tourists in the UK have come under much debate.
Etiquette expert William Hanson offers some advice on the do's and don'ts. First is how to make small talk, with one topic of conversation out of bounds.
William Hanson, etiquette expert, said, "The worst mistake a visitor to Britain can make is talking about money - we hate talking about money. We frown on those who talk about money. We don't want to tell people how much it cost, or how much we're about to spend. Whereas in other countries that's considered small talk."
But one word the visitor will often hear is "sorry." The British are famous for their constant apologies.
William Hanson said, "The British love saying sorry, we just can't say it enough, even if it's not our fault and somebody bumps into us we will say sorry."
|William Hanson, etiquette expert
Most people coming to London for the Olympic Games will be spending lots of money in the city's many bars and restaurants. As with many other countries, it is common to offer a tip, but in the UK it is done quietly and depends on the quality of the service.
William Hanson said, "Tipping needs to be done very discretely - the British don't like talking about money or seeing overtly flashy signs of money."
Perhaps the most quintessential English social activity within the UK is afternoon tea, where manners are judged all the more acutely.
Hanson said, "Afternoon tea is a very British past time. It was invented in the 19th Century by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, and it really is the epitome of Britishness some would say. If you are going to have milk, the milk should go in last and not first. And then when we come to stir our tea we don't go round and round like so, we go six, twelve, six, twelve, like so."
Personal space is another area to be aware of.
Hanson said, "It has to be when we know somebody really very well that we become tactile."
The Olympic Games opens on July 27th.
(CNTV April 19, 2012)