Class Notes from “The Basics of Retaining”

July 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm (Retaining 101)

What is the purpose of a retainer (or a lady in waiting)?

As a retainer or a lady in waiting, you serve many roles. You are also an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands for the royalty, often carrying the things They need to have with them, as well as writing notes of things They need to remember.  Your primary job is to make sure that They have food and drink, They are where They need to be on time, and that everything They might need to remember is written down.

You are also helping to maintain the pageantry of the royalty, and as such, should always try to act in a courteous respectful manner.

Key Things to Remember as a Retainer

  • Make sure you take care of yourself—you cannot take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first!
  •  Introduce yourself at the start of your shift both to the retainers you are relieving and also the royalty you are serving (when possible, or at the earliest point you are able to)
  •  Do not leave them alone unless you are asked to step out of a conversation or meeting—when they are talking to someone, stand a little behind them and slightly to the side so that you can see if They need you.  This also provides a radius of privacy to keep others from approaching a conversation.  If you are asked to step away, stay close enough that you can see if they need you without overhearing what is being discussed and be sure to keep others from approaching
  • Know the Royals schedule during your shift so that you can help them stay on track and get there where they need to be on time.  This may require interrupting a conversation at times, particularly if someone is monopolizing the time of a royal—do this as politely as possible, and try to use a phrase that gives the royalty the ability to either stay and keep talking, or leave if needed (“Excuse me, Your Majesty, but you wanted me to let you know when it was __ o’clock” works well)
  • Write down any notes you think might be useful to the royals later (SCA and Mundane Name AND Address of anyone who gives a gift, short notes regarding anyone the Royals agree to follow up with at a later point)
  • Make sure they are eating and drinking throughout the day.
  •  In court, make sure there is always a drink available, and be ready to serve as an extra set of hands to hold regalia or to accept gifts that are offered.  Do your best to look interested— every item of business is very important to someone, and you have the best view of what is being said and done.
  •  Do not repeat things that you hear while on duty.  Retainers are often privy to private information and conversations, and it is important that you do not repeat anything that you might over hear.
  •  If you encounter something you can’t handle or are unsure about, know who to ask for help (Is there another retainer on duty that you can ask? Can you find the Head Lady in Waiting or a Deputy Head Lady In Waiting? Chief of Staff?)
  •  Have fun!  This is a great chance to meet new people and see new things, make sure you enjoy yourself!

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