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A few 'first day of work' tips for King Charles III, the world's longest-serving intern

Columnist Tammy Swift offers to aid the new 73-year-old king by offering "first day of work" advice, such as suggestions to institute casual Friday at Buckingham Palace.

Tammy Swift online column sig revised 3-16-21.jpg
Tammy Swift, Forum columnist.
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With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom's venerable, respected and longest-serving sovereign, I can't help but think of the great responsibilities awaiting her eldest son, King Charles III.

After all, the 73-year-old royal is essentially starting a complex and important new leadership position after 73 years as an intern.

With that in mind, I'm going to aid the monarch by offering some "first day of work" advice. Granted, all I know about British culture and leadership is what I've gleaned from binge-watching "The Crown" and the original version of "The Office."

But I do know a lot about starting new jobs, which I feel qualifies me for passing along some valuable workplace knowledge.

And so, undeterred by the rigid, in-the-box thinking defined by knowledge of UK class systems, culture, politics or even geography, here are my humble suggestions:

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  • Take everyone to the pub after work the first day and buy the first round. Urge everyone to “just call me Chuck, please,” and do not hold court. Ask people about their favorite football clubs and talk about things that everyday Brits talk about. (Not really sure what that is, so let’s just guess Harry Styles, Posh and Becks and figgy pudding.) 
  • Introduce 'Casual Friday.' One of the most frequent complaints about the monarchy is all that protocol and formality. I suggest instituting casual Fridays at the palace, with everyone paying an English pound for the privilege of dressing as sloppily as the average American. Imagine how friendly and inviting Buckingham Palace would look if the royal guard periodically slouched around in trucker hats, pajama pants and crocs.  Also, I'm sure one of the third flanking second-tier footmen would have a  Motörhead T-shirt for you to borrow.
  • Sit with the cool kids at lunch. On occasion, you will need to network with members of Parliament. Who you associate with will have much to do with your acceptance by the general populace and their perceptions of your leadership abilities. So you’ll definitely want to stay away from the stoners’ table, but you don’t really want to cozy up to the grade-grubbers or the apple-polishers either. I suggest you sit with the parliamentarians who are respected for their smart policies, but also widely admired by the opposite sex. This will ensconce you in the “smart but still cool” category. 
  • Be punctual. Day One is not your day to be late. Be sure to set at least two alarms and perhaps ask Berntson, your butler (don’t bother with those unreliable underbutlers) to get you up at least 45 minutes earlier than usual. It might help to also practice walking your commute from your royal living quarters to your home office the night before, just so you know exactly how long it will take to get there. After all, just because you are a remote-working royal doesn’t give you license to dilly-dally!
  • Don't forget the 'first day of kinging' pic. Be sure to make time for Camilla to snap a quick shot of you standing on the front step of the palace with your GI Joe lunchbox and Johnny Quest schoolbag in hand. Then we can look at it next year and see how much you’ve grown. 
  • Lose the royal airs. As one who was born to be king, you’ve had advantages and privileges that most others have not. It may not hurt to show your colleagues that you are a “regular bloke." Purge your vocabulary of all those phrases and words that belie your aristocratic upbringing, such as “whilst,” “alas” and “perchance.” Replace them with homey phrases like "You're all bum and parsley," or "Bob's your uncle!"
  • Avoid dramatic changes. Your first month is not a time to replace the microwavable burritos in the breakroom with blood pudding and scones. It's not the time to replace all the workplace safety posters with an illustrated guide to curtsying etiquette.
  • Realize not everyone will recognize you. This may seem preposterous but, let's face it, you have aged a bit since your polo-playing, 40-something Prince Charles' days. Some of the younger workers, especially those who aren't monarchists, may think you are just some older-than-average middle manager. So don't archly announce, "Don't you know who I am?" Instead, introduce yourself as someone like, “Iain Bogbottom Broadchurch” or “Collin E. Chuffwhistle” or “Angus Downton Cankerknicker,” or something Englishy like that. 
  • Praise employee performance. Everyone hates these, so keep them brief, positive and on message. Really try to steer away from lots of royal nitpickery, such as rebranding them as “Loyal Subjects’ Performance Reviews" or expecting a subordinate to back out of the room bowing after you give them a .01% raise. Don't resort to reminding the colleague that they failed to write “Your Royal Highness” on that Dilbert cartoon they left on your desk or that they didn't provide you with a solid gold Louis XIV tea coaster for resting your used teabag. Instead, concentrate on the employee’s individual “wins,” no matter how small. Say things like: “I appreciated that you only scoffed slightly when I suggested we replace the annual Christmas party with BYOH (bring your own horse) fox hunt.”

Follow these tips, sir, and I think you'll soon be brandishing a "World's Best King" mug all your own.
Bob's your uncle!


READ MORE COLUMNS FROM TAMMY SWIFT

Tammy Swift portrait for Brightspot module

Hi, I'm Tammy Swift, a loooong-time columnist for The Forum. Over the years, I've written about everything from growing up on the farm and life as a single woman to marriage, divorce and the "joys" of menopause. I'm also slightly obsessed with my dog. Check out my latest columns below. Reach me at tswift@forumcomm.com.

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Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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