Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, the childrenswear designer and mother of five, has created a handbook for etiquette, Manners Begin at Breakfast, out now via Vendome Press. The European-educated Marie-Chantal was born in London and spent her early years in Hong Kong before marrying Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, and settling down in the UK. She recently moved to New York City, where she runs the clothing line Marie-Chantal and continues to instill her good manners and values in children.
“It’s never too early to start,” she says. The charming new book features whimsical illustrations that help communicate important lessons about behavior, as well as a foreword by Tory Burch, making it the perfect treat for the kid or—gulp—parent in your life. We asked Marie-Chantal to answer these pressing etiquette questions for our readers.
What role did manners and etiquette play growing up in your family?
In my family, manners really do matter. It’s important to teach manners right from the very beginning, when children are little, as they pick up so much. In the end, they mirror their parents’ behavior. My parents both believed in setting good rules from the start: how to sit up straight, how to say please and thank-yous, and even how to stand up when an adult was present. Once taught early, it becomes second nature.
You’re raising millennials. What’s the one old-school value you make sure they have?
Proper thank-you notes are essential. I always prefer to send a handwritten note within a day or two; however, there have been times when I’ve emailed or texted a thank you. I’ll usually do so if I’m sending flowers, which could take a few days, and the note will accompany them. At the end of the day, there is nothing nicer than receiving a thank-you note after all the time and effort your host spent having you.
What are your opinions on social media?
I believe in moderation, and it shouldn’t become all-consuming. Reading the paper or a good book is so much more rewarding in the long run.
How do you notice people’s behavior changes when they learn you’re a princess?
Being one or not shouldn’t affect the way people treat you or how you are treated. I’ve seen all sorts, however—even to the point of being rude to me to show that they didn’t care. People will always remember the way you made someone feel.
What’s your favorite hostess gift to give and receive?
My new favorite gift for a family with children will be my book, of course! But I always love a good candle.
What’s the worst thing a guest has done in your home?
Help themselves to my freshly made Greek meatballs without asking!
What’s your pet peeve?
Being rude to staff.
What’s your pet peeve for children?
Not eating what’s placed in front of you.
Whose manners impress you most?
Manners should be effortless and genuine, not forced. You should mean it when you say thank you or please. I guess I just like people with good manners!