- Steve Etheridge, ESPN Playbook
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After training most of their lives in relative obscurity, the Olympics can catapult an athlete to global celebrity overnight. This newfound fame brings exotic new opportunities, and with the Games in London this year, one of those opportunities just might be meeting members of the royal family.
British royalty, though, are guarded by centuries of tradition and impenetrable propriety. Which is why here at Playbook, we thought it’d be best to give athletes a primer on what to do and how to behave in their sovereign presence.
Queen Elizabeth II, aka “The Deuce”
Queen Elizabeth II, as you might glean from her title, is the UK’s second queen named Elizabeth, the first of whom took off in an IROC-Z in ’86 and sporadically sends home postcards from truck stops. Elizabeth II, then, bears the sole responsibility for ruling the Commonwealth and occasionally waving to people from a balcony.
The Queen is guarded at all times by several stoic men in tall hats and red coats called Dementors who will splash you with very warm tea if you come within five meters of Her Majesty. Thus, if athletes wish to greet her, they should have someone translate a note into British, seal it in a hamster ball, and have the hamster roll to her feet. If she accepts your greeting, she will place the hamster underneath her hat and it will magically become part of her hair. If she rejects your greeting — often because you didn’t send over a tip — she will drop the hamster into the Royal Paper Shredder, which is near her person at all times. Should you choose to bring her a gift, she is 86 years old, so please bring something age-appropriate, like a Werther's Original or the Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Queen is scheduled to preside over the opening ceremony, and each country of athletes will shuffle past her private box during the Parade of Nations. If she offers a thumbs up, the nation’s athletes should reciprocate with a thumbs up and a slow 360 to showcase their gloriously muscled fannies. If she offers a thumbs down … RUN.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, aka “Number Two’s Boo”
Prince Philip is Queen Elizabeth’s husband. Athletes probably won’t have a chance to meet him since he mostly just hangs out in his bathtub, smashing Fabergé eggs with a polo mallet.
Charles and Camilla
Though their names would lead you to believe they’re a '70s pop music duo, Charles and Camilla, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, are the son and daughter-in-law of the Queen. If you encounter them in the wild, you are allowed to shake Charles’ hand and give Camilla one of those side cheek kisses, though definitely no saliva is permitted. You can spot these lovebirds at the opening ceremony or maybe even at the world’s largest McDonald’s.
William and Kate
You’ll remember these two from “The Royal Wedding,” a 2011 reality show chronicling their regal nuptials. Prince William is Charles’ son and I’m pretty sure Kate is his daughter. This is how royal marriages work. Anyway, these two try to play it cool and eschew the whole we-can-order-people-to-be-beheaded vibe common among their class, so feel free to approach them on the street and give them a chest bump, or maybe even a light noogie. You can spot Kate at the swimming and gymnastic events, and you can spot William at the equestrian stuff, hanging out with Ann Romney’s horse servant.
In addition to being third in line to the throne, Prince Harry also played the bully in “A Christmas Story.” Known in the media as somewhat of a wild child and a playboy, it makes sense that he is expected to frequent the beach volleyball events. So if you are a lady who is in a bikini, you are more than welcome to greet him or politely request a game of spin the bottle. That is, unless you’re Lolo Jones.
Michael Phelps is the youngest serving consort to the Duchess of — wait, what? He’s not a prince? But he’s been telling everyone that he’s roya… I just saw him point at some groupies with a scepter and invite them to — are you sure? Huh. Weird.