The Academy's Founder-
Etiquette Professional, Laura Windsor
Etiquette professional, Laura Windsor, is widely regarded as one of the UK’s most trusted authorities on etiquette and protocol.
What is your background? What schools did you attend?
I am an etiquette consultant, ex international model and Lifestyle TV presenter. I was educated at Downe House, the same private boarding school as Kate Middleton, Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. I was fortunate enough to receive my etiquette training from a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen.
Why did you create the Academy?
Etiquette is my passion. In an increasingly competitive world, knowing how to behave both in a social and professional context has never been more important.
I help guide people through the rules, techniques and tricks that can enhance one’s business and social reputation; skills that help make a lasting impression with good old-fashioned British civility, poise and charm.
I also help keep alive the rich history, customs and values of British Etiquette; guiding people through the essential rules of correct behaviour and demonstrating how 'old-fashioned' customs and values can be adapted to suit the modern world.
The name Laura Windsor, a Happy Coincidence?
When I was growing up, my mother was responsible for my etiquette education. I took it on board so readily that she used to tease me and call me Little Windsor, hence the surname Windsor.
My etiquette education didn’t stop there - I also went to Lucie Clayton finishing school in London. Here I learnt the appropriate behaviours of polite society.
I learned about International dining protocol, deportment, social etiquette and polite entertaining and how to strut down the catwalk, which was a lot of fun. Supermodel Jemma Kid and 'Absolutely Fabulous' actress Joanna Lumley also attended the school.
Is elegance being lost today?
I think there is a more casual approach to everyday living. But one must never lose sight of the fact that one's personal appearance and non-verbal communication still accounts for 55% of an invaluable first impression.
That includes body language, facial expressions, good grooming & personal hygiene. Since light travels faster than sound, you are seen before you are heard.
This is why, even before you've said a word, your visual image will say a lot about you as an individual (your perceived level of intelligence, your competence, self-esteem, confidence, power, and beliefs) and about the organisation you represent (its philosophy, culture, and standard of service).
Then there is the distinction between looking elegant and being elegant. If you can combine these two elements then you have a winning formula for success. When choosing between two equally competent people, an interviewer will almost always choose the one with better social graces and a more elegant appearance.
What does the motto ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’ mean?
The very lack of personal drama was arguably the secret of Elizabeth II’s success, And I think Princess Catherine will follow in her footsteps. The ‘Never Complain, Never Explain’ maxim, which was first coined by British politician and prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, has been a guiding principal of confident, influential, accountability-loving people right through to the modern day.
A motto that was adopted, not only by the late Queen Elizabeth II but by many other high-ranking members of society, Winston Churchill included. The late Queen Elizabeth II made sure that she never gave too much of herself away.
This meant that people could read whatever they wanted into her behaviour which allowed them to more easily identify with her. She was always courteous, poised, responding with encouraging and empathetic statements no matter what came her way.
I think Princess Catherine will be like her but in a more modern way. She is much more approachable, more willing to participate with her subjects, and very much a hands-on lady in her duties, especially when it comes to her children, which calls to mind Princess Diana.
Catherine gives off a friendly, quiet confidence and poise. Being ‘poised’ is a graceful, controlled way of being. It’s about learning to be comfortable in your own skin.
This is the most powerful component to becoming socially graceful. You are able to maintain your composure even when nerves threaten to get the better of you. Poise allows you to have that extra polish, that ‘je ne sais quoi’ quality, that makes you stand out from the crowd. It means knowing how to always create the right first impression that will enable you to handle yourself in all situations and make you a more confident individual.