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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Etiquette of the Trump Family Crests, Guns + Children

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Great questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week about the etiquette of Mr. Trump stealing another family's coat of arms, neighbors with guns, a disgruntled father of the bride, and how much to tip when picking up your takeout dinner.

Trump's stolen family crest

Q. Can you get away with stealing a coat of arms? Isn't that why they call a coat of arms a family crest?  Is it bad etiquette that Donald Trump uses another family's coat-of-arms or crest without ever having asked the family's permission? 

At the Trump National Gold Club outside Washington, DC, which hosted the Senior P.G.A. Championships this past weekend, most of the jokes were about the different nefarious Trump coats of arms and newly acquired family crest. Either the crest Trump stole or the one he plagiarized or made up appear everywhere on the Trump organization properties: on all signage for his real estate, inside Trump's private helicopter and jet, and homes. Including pro shops and exercise gyms. On everything from throw pillows, cufflinks and clothing, to golf balls, golf clubs, and body lotions, as well as all promotional material.  

According to The New York Times, the coat of arms Mr. Trump first tried to use was originally granted to Joseph Edward Davies in1939, says Joseph D.Tydings, a former senator from Maryland, who is the grandson of the owner of the coat of arms.  Mr. Trump uses it in the US without permission from the family, which Tydings witnessed while visiting Mar-a-Lago, his former family home. The family was told that Mr. Trump's lawyers would keep them in court for decades draining their finances for generations. The only adjustment made was switching the motto from the latin word for Integrity, 'Integritas,' to the name 'Trump.' However, for his two golf properties in Scotland, Mr. Trump plagiarized the coat of arms he covets, but added a two-headed eagle.  GP, Washington, DC


A.  In 2012 after a gladiatorial legal battle over whether Mr. Trump could use someone eles' Scottish coat of arms as his family crest, he eventually won the right to use it. I agree, why would you use another family's crest as your own?

  • The fact is that it is a criminal offense under the ancient Scottish law to use an authorized crest, but Mr. Trump was relentless and wore down the authorities.
  • By adding the double-sided eagle representing the dual nature and nationality of Trump's heritage, American and German, he adapted a crest he admired. 
  • Also the eagles are clutching golf balls, making reference to the game of golf, and the Trump motto was added in Latin: "Numquam Concedere" for "Never Give Up."

Father of bride

Bride's bitter parent

Q.  The parents of our son's fiancée don't get along. When I say they don't get along, I mean they can't be in the same room at the same time. They had a very bitter divorce. His mother is happily remarried, but his father is a bitter lonely man.

As the groom's parents, we are hosting the welcoming dinner, but the father of the bride has requested that he not be seated near his ex-wife and her husband. He can't be too obstinate because he's paying for the wedding reception. How do I seat the groom's parents? There will be somewhere between fifty and sixty close family and friends attending the seated Welcome Dinner, so we've got five or six tables of ten.  MOG, Charlotte, NC


A.  The key here is that your dinner is seated. You can control this dilemma. Strategically seat the bride's parents at different tables and put the parents positioned so that they have their backs to one another. Arrange the place cards yourself to be sure that the bride's parents are not in earshot or sight range. Assure the bride's father he is seated at "his own table." Include only close friends or relatives at "his table." As the hostess, he's your responsibility. Especially since he is hosting the wedding reception by generously footing the bill.

Alternatively, you, as the hostess, can seat the bride's father to your right at your table. Then you would seat the bride's mother at your husband's table, to his right. The step-father can probably be seated anywhere but at your table.  By seating the bride's parents as guests of honor at two separate tables, you should be able to appease both of the bride's parents. 

This won't look awkward because the seats to the right of the host and hostess are the guest of honor seats. 

 Also, by cleverly positioning the place cards so that the bride's parents are out of earshot and sightline, you've done your duty.


Tipping for takeout

Q.  What about tipping when you buy takeout from a proper restaurant and take it home to eat? Here in Newport we have so many fantastic restaurants that we get spoiled off season. During the Memorial Day Weekend, it seemed simpler to look at the menus and order online and then pick up the food and eat at home. No lines, no reservations, no long waiting between courses. What I don't understand is the tipping. Paying the requisite 20% for service doesn't seem necessary. On the other hand, I don't want to stiff the summer college workers and the year round waitstaff. What percentage of the bill do I pay for the takeout tip?  LB, Newport


A.  The same dilemma came to me Monday night of Memorial Day Weekend. We ordered from Pasta Beach  -- our favorite take out -- which we do summer, winter, spring and fall for special occasions. Instead of paying 20%, for a $50. take out, I put five dollars on the tip line of the credit card receipt. I agree, 20% is too much, but if you're asking the waiter for extra this and a little more of that and not too many onions in the salad, you're demanding more personal attention, which deserves a little something extra.

Actually, I would like to know what you think about this answer, because takeout is unchartered territory.

Guns and playdates

Q.  Didi, the number of people owning guns in our small community is scary. Our neighbors have guns in their home. I've seen the father walking to and from the car carrying a leather rifle case that looks as though its big enough for two rifles.  I don't want our small children playing over there. How do I say, "No, my kids can't spend time in your home?" Name Withheld, Portsmouth, RI


Play dates

A. Don't let them go over there. This may sound too simplistic but my answer is pragmatic:  Keep your children out and away from your neighbor's house and any home where you suspect there are guns. 

Look at it this way, if you had a child allergic to peanuts or cats or your children don't have any sugar in their diet at home, you would say: My kids don't eat sugar, they don't have sugar in there diet, so I can't let them play at your house. 

So, you say:  We know you have guns in your home and I can't allow my children to play in a house where I know there are guns.

There's always the danger that a little one will come upon a gun that happens to be loaded, with consequences that are terrible to contemplate.

Tell the neighbor that you do not want your children in a home where there are guns of any kind and to please not make the situation difficult. 


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


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