Protocol, Etiquette and Dress Codes


The subject of required etiquette at formal livery functions includes dining arrangements, processions into and recessions out of dinner, sung grace, the rose bowl and loving cup ceremonies, comfort breaks, toasts, taking wine, mobile phones and photography.

A Guide to Livery Etiquette is available to download (updated August 2023).

In addition, etiquette extends to dining out occasions, the Master’s and Clerk’s duties, guest matters and the wearing of badges as well as advice on major City events.

Livery Formal Dress Codes

For formal livery events, dinners, banquets, luncheons or civic occasions – there is a strict dress code covering white tie (evening dress), black tie (dinner jacket), morning coat and business attire. The codes include the wearing of badges and medals.

A Guide to Livery Dress Codes is available to download.

Orders, Medals & Decorations

The British Honours system is a means of rewarding individuals’ personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award – honours, decorations and medals:

  • Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service;
  • Decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds;
  • Medals are used to recognise service on a particular operation or in a specific theatre, long or valuable service and good conduct. They are never purchased, except as miniatures or to replace lost or damaged medals.

A comprehensive listing of Orders, Decorations and Medals is available courtesy of Wikipedia.


Badges are worn for identification, or for record purposes (such as Boy Scout achievements). A Liveryman’s badge would come under this category and would only be worn at the Company’s official events like Livery dinners/lunches/banquets.

The Badges that Livery Company Masters wear are known officially as ‘Jewels’, and others, such as Past Masters, Clerks, etc., are worn as ‘Badges of Office’ held currently or held previously.

Miniatures may be small-sized replicas or lapel badges or pins and are worn at functions that are not ‘open to the public’, apart from state occasions, such as Remembrance Day, etc.

Medallions are purchased for wear as personal adornment; they have no official significance.

Other matters of Protocol

Lord Mayor Locum Tenens and Representative Lord Mayor

Where the Lord Mayor has agreed to attend an event but must subsequently withdraw at short notice, a substitute will be offered, though the host Company is under no obligation to accept. A Lord Mayor Locum Tenens (LMLT) may be appointed if the Lord Mayor is out of the country, a Representative Lord Mayor (RLM) in other circumstances. Both should be accorded the same courtesies and protocol as the Lord Mayor. If neither LMLT or RLM are appropriate, then the Company may invite an Alderman, Recorder or other civic functionary to represent the Corporation and to make a speech, but then the Civic Toast should be drunk in silence. (Letter of June 1993).

Post Nominals, Designatory Letters

The order of post nominals after the holder’s name are arranged as follows:

  • First: Crown awards or appointments e.g. OBE, CBE, JP, TD, DL, etc.
  • Second: Qualifications e.g. FRCS, BA Hons, MIMechE, etc
  • Third: Elected office e.g. MP, CC


Address e-mail messages to Clerks as ‘Dear Brother & Sister Clerks’.

Address letters to Clerks as ‘To the Clerks of the several Livery & Guild Companies’

Miscellaneous Protocol Matters (Courtesy of the Stationers’ Company)

Senior Military officers who are entitled to wear ceremonial swords in military parade dress do not need to wear them for formal dinners.

Spurs may be worn by those serving in regiments entitled to wear them, provided they do not damage furniture, or injure people.

Diners will not swear or use abusive language, whatever the provocation.
Naval officers drink the loyal toast sitting down; Army and RAF officers drink the loyal toast standing to attention.

Topics of conversation at dinner

Diners should make every attempt to find more imaginative topics of conversation to discuss than their everyday work, unless they professionally fly space-craft, drive on Top Gear, sail an aircraft carrier, mine gold or work for the Security Services. Personal relationships, religion and politics are not suitable subjects for the dinner table and are best avoided. Diners should ensure that they engage in conversation with guests to both left and right as well as those opposite, actively listening as well as speaking.

Behaviour and discipline

The standards of behaviour expected at livery events is high and it is incumbent on all members and their guests to comply. Instances of rowdy behaviour, inappropriate language and inebriation will not be tolerated. It is up to the Clerk, assisted by the Beadle where necessary, to put a stop to inappropriate behaviour and deal with the offenders. Poor guest behaviour will be dealt with through the host member, and if deemed necessary the subject guest will be asked not to attend another company event.

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