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The hardest job of being Royalty: time management
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jducoeur
I've been hearing some assorted grumbling about how late things ran this past weekend, particularly in cases where Their Majesties were the critical path. On the one hand, it's absolutely true, and reasonable to be annoyed by. And I can't say I'm sure of all the factors that went into it this specific time. But I do think a lot of people misunderstand the most *common* causes of it.

I'm mainly reacting to various comments along the lines of, "Royalty need to learn that it's not all about them". Most of them know that -- and in a sense, that's the problem. Most Royals (not all) are decent at the timing of stuff that *they* planned for, but are way too soft-hearted at the zillion members of the populace who "just need five minutes of your time to do this and oh yes could we talk for another minute about that while I've got you and oh *so* sorry I really didn't mean to take up half an hour!" The unpredicted stuff tends to be where the schedule really goes to hell.

Basically, the problem is that many Royalty are fairly passive about their personal time management. Actually keeping things running on schedule requires that they be pretty strict and active about it, and sometimes requires disappointing members of the populace. And while it's easy in the abstract to say that you have to put the needs of the many first, it's a good deal harder to say no to the nice person who is right in front of you, *especially* if you actually care about people. A lot of Royals are in this game to try to help people and make their SCA experience better, and have trouble being a hardass when they really need to.

On top of this, the populace tends to be kind of passive-aggressive towards the Royals, especially WRT something like this. Everyone blames the Royalty (who are, remember, generally drowning in things to do) with not remembering to keep everybody informed about how late it's all running. But relatively few actually go up to them or their retainers and simply ask for a status update -- people mostly just sit and stew, which tends to promote blame instead of understanding.

Mostly, of course, it boils down to the usual fact that most Royals aren't managers in real life, and don't have the skills that an effective manager has to learn. Careful time management and balancing concerns happen to be particularly noticeable examples of that.

Put it all together, and I generally find that it's a good idea to "manage upwards" a little bit. When I'm meeting with the Royals, I specifically try not to waste their time. When things are looking late, I'll grab a reasonably well-informed retainer and ask if they've got a guess as to what the real schedule looks like. Try to be part of the solution, and understanding about the problem...
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(Deleted comment)
Adding one more voice to this chorus.

So...did they apologize to the cook for making dinner wait an hour and a half?

This is where the retainers and royalty can work together to make time management happen.

The royals should set up a signal with the retainers for when they want/need to be rescued, either a physical signal from the K/Q, or a question the retainer can ask to make sure their charge is okay. With Anna, if she looked like she needed it, we would politely interrupt and say "Your Majesty, you have that thing in ten minutes..." and she could say "Oh, dear, must dash," if she needed rescue or "Oh, I forgot to tell you, that was canceled," if she didn't. Do NOT be specific about the thing, the person in question may decide they need to go to whatever it is also and then you'll be caught out or you'll never get rid of them.

This, too.

Alethea was pretty awesome about delegating her time management, and would tell the LiW's (or at least the Lead LiW for the day) what her schedule was at the beginning of the event, noting critical things like "I need to be back in the Royal Room at 4:00 so I have time to sign scrolls and change before Court at 5:00." This freed her to go about her business and not have to watch the clock, because someone else was watching it for her.

She also had great people who were not worried about telling her to hurry up.

I think such people are vital to making sure delays are kept under control, and that every Royal Staff should have them.

And yes, I AM volunteering.

There are super-seekrit hand gestures. ;)

That's one-way commo, though. Sometimes two-way is more effective.

Justin: I agree with what you are saying.

I have worked closely with Their Majesties, and I know of at least two events where they were so focused on being on time that they were early.

Same thing for the previous two reigns.

But foo does happen. I think folks need to realize that.

This is where being The Royal Herald comes in handy. Put on the Royal Tabard. Wear it all day (when you're being the Royal Herald, that is). It makes you Look Official. Then find out everything that's going on (it helps if you're terminally nosy anyway, like I am). Then, if you see something that's going to go off the rails timewise, you can tell either Their Majesties or the person running the thing (the autocrat, the cook, the vigil, whatever). If there is a person talking to Their Majesties and you come up decked out in the tabard to remind Their Majesties about whatever-it-is, not many people question that.

And yes, I remember when I was Royal Herald being absolutely *astounded* at the people who wanted to bother my King. He got invitations to handfastings of people he'd never met, requests to mediate marital disputes, household disputes, etc. as well as the requests you would *expect* a King to have to deal with. (Who-was-in-the-Champions-battle took a looooooong time, and then there were the Tuchux . . .)

Susan? Susan MacGregor? Can we get you back in the lists, in Court? We met, once or twice - Rowen Cloteworthy, I took over Troubadour from Adhemar.

- Rowen Brigantia

Oh, you flatterer. Yes, 'tis me. I would love to do courts or lists, but I have mostly moved on to a "modern" century (Revolutionary War) with my lord, and don't get to many SCA events any more. (Anyone who knows how to get more Free Time, let me know!)

I AM currently planning on being at Svava's Whim tourney; I have no idea whether that's a Royal Progress or not, but I was going to volunteer in the lists, at least.

I actually think we're going to have a fair number of retainers helping with this: the Household takes a lot of pride in things running on-time. And it will probably help a lot that TRH *do* have more than average management experience.

But good point: I hadn't thought about the power of the tabard as a symbol, but I can see the value there...

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