I heard on the radio this morning that it is no longer necessary to walk backwards when leaving the presence of the Queen. I shall have to bear that in mind next time the occasion arises.
The reason for this change is not a democratisation of protocol (what a meaningless phrase I just made up!) but health and safety. No doubt hundreds have been hurt over the years tripping over footmen as they bowed their way obsequiously out of the throne room.
I have no particular feelings about the monarchy and I would, of course, curtsey, walk backwards, do anything else required if I were summoned into the presence, out of sheer nerves and awe, but when I'm thinking rationally - okay, which isn't very often admittedly - I don't understand why we should. Or why royalty should expect us to.
Maybe things will change when Charles - or William - takes over. I hope so.
I know it's about showing respect but for what? The tradition or the woman? I have nothing against the Queen and I'm sure she works hard - but so does my dustman. I just get the impression that HM is rather keen on protocol and scathing about those who slip up.
But there are many more people who deserve my respect and to whom I'm happy to give it. Everyday people, who, during the course of their ordinary lives, impact others simply by treating them with respect, by helping them when they need it, by taking time to care, listen and value. These are people who don't demand it but are so worthy of respect.