I read an article today about Dame Anna Wintour (editor in chief of American Vogue) and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who sat next to each other at a fashion show during this year’s London Fashion Week.
In the article, there were several photos of the two ladies sitting comfortably side by side, the Queen looking quite thrilled and happy and Anna Wintour…wearing her big, black sunglasses.
Oh, the horror…one might think.
Oh, and so what…someone else might think.
It was (of course) pointed out that Wintour broke all kinds of royal protocol and showed very poor manners by not removing her sunglasses in the presence of the Queen, a person who naturally outranks even the mighty and powerful Anna Wintour.
Wintour not only kept her sunglasses on the whole time…she never even removed them as she initially stood up to greet the Queen and shake her hand.
Royalty or not, I think that you should always (!) take off your sunglasses when you meet and greet someone for the first time so you can respectfully look them in the eye (I.e. make eye contact) as you greet them and shake their hand.
In my opinion, it has nothing to do with rank…it has everything to do with showing respect for another person. Especially when you meet them for “the first time”.
If you’re outside and the sun is really bright when you take off your sunglasses, you can always put them back on after you’ve already greeted the other person(s) and if necessary excuse yourself by saying something in the lines of “I’m sorry, but I need to put on my sunglasses because the sun is really bright…”. If the others also took off their sunglasses to greet you, they might even be relieved and put theirs back on. And that’s fine because by then you’ve already made good, initial eye contact and greeted each other in the proper and respectful way.
I may not always remember to practice “what I preach”, so if you’ve met me and I didn’t take off my sunglasses and look you in the eye…I apologize and hope I’ll remember the next time.