British army mess dinner etiquette is similar to other military mess dinner protocols, but there may be some differences in the programme of events and specific customs. Here are some key elements of British army mess dinner etiquette:
1. Dress code: Dress code for a British army mess dinner is formal, with military personnel wearing their dress uniform or mess kit. Civilian guests should also dress formally, with men wearing black tie and women wearing a formal dress.
2. Seating arrangement: Seating arrangements are usually organized by rank, with the most senior officer sitting at the head of the table. Officers are seated according to their rank, with the most junior officer sitting farthest from the head of the table.
3. Programme of events: The programme of events for a British army mess dinner typically includes a number of formal toasts, speeches, and other ceremonies. These may include a toast to the Queen, a toast to fallen comrades, and a toast to the regiment or corps.
4. Dining protocol: Dining protocol at a British army mess dinner is highly regimented. Guests should wait for their host to sit down before taking their own seat, and should not begin eating until the host gives the signal. When finished eating, guests should place their utensils parallel to the edge of the table, with the handles facing right.
5. Port: It is traditional for port to be passed around the table during a British army mess dinner. When the port decanter is passed to you, it is customary to pour a small amount into your glass and then pass the decanter to your left. You should then offer the port to the person on your right before taking your first sip. The decanter in most messes cannot leave the table, unless to be refilled. Males must pour for females.
6. Toilet breaks: It is considered impolite to leave the table during a formal dinner, so guests are expected to take care of any personal needs before the meal begins. However, if you must leave the table during the meal, it is customary to ask permission from the person seated next to you before leaving. When you return to the table, you should stand behind your chair and wait for permission to sit down.
Overall, British army mess dinner etiquette is designed to create a sense of formality and respect among military personnel, while honoring the traditions and values of the military community.
- "Army Mess Dinners," Army Rumour Service, accessed April 29, 2023, https://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/Army_Mess_Dinners
- "The Protocol and Etiquette of a Mess Dinner," The Balance Careers, accessed April 29, 2023, https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-protocol-and-etiquette-of-a-mess-dinner-4058582