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Entrepreneurs to get taste of British civility

By CHRIS PETERSON/CECILY LIU | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-10-27 17:02

If you want to learn about English manners and social etiquette, why not go straight to the top?

Baron Fermoy, a cousin of the late Princess Diana and sixth baron in an Irish peerage created by Queen Victoria in 1856, will go to Guangzhou next month for a week to brief eager Chinese entrepreneurs on how the upper crust lives in 21st-century England.

The British television series Downton Abbey, a huge hit in China, has inspired wealthy Chinese to find out more about how Britain's nobility lives.

Fermoy, born Maurice Burke Roche, announced details on Wednesday of his Nov 6 to 12 visit.

"My purpose is to bring the best of British culture to a Chinese audience," Fermoy said. "There is clearly a fascination in Chinese society as to why the British behave as we do, with the grace and the manners we bring.

"This is a two-way street. I hope to bring the best of Chinese culture to the UK," he said.

Fermoy said he has already taught some Chinese students basic etiquette in the UK.

In China, things such as English afternoon tea, formal balls, country house weekends or dressing up for formal dinners, with polished silver plates and cutlery and served by butlers and maids, are becoming fashionable.

Growing wealth in China means that many who can now afford to aspire to live the British aristocratic life-style, creating a huge market of people paying big money for authentic British etiquette classes.

Fermoy's trip is being organized by Peak Group Global, a cultural exchange organizer based in London and founded in 2005.

He will be talking to a group of no more than 35 entrepreneurs and their families, a group ranging from primary school children to parents in their 30s and 40s.

Events traditionally accessible only to the British upper classes, like the Royal Ascot races and Queen Charlotte's Ball, have attracted attention from Chinese living overseas, and their social media postings have become big talking points in China.

In 2014, Britain's 250-year-old heritage etiquette organization, Debrett's, established an office in Beijing, teaching Chinese secondary school students British etiquette in partnership with Dulwich College Beijing.

Grant Harrold, a former butler to heir-to-the-throne the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, established an etiquette school in London with the exiled Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and Serbia. One-fourth of the students in its afternoon tea and dinner etiquette classes come from China.

"Chinese students are very quick learners and ask lots of questions," Harrold said.

A growing number of Chinese etiquette schools are also entering the competition.

Lessons with teachers flying in from the UK can cost 9,800 yuan ($1447.9) for two days, but lessons with Western teachers based in China are 6,800 yuan for a package of 10 short classes.

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