Obviously, one mocks little President Macron for telling a teenager to call him ‘Monsieur le President’. How long before the French will have to say ‘Vive l’Empereur!’? But I do have a sneaking sympathy for the man one must not call ‘Manu’. The presumption of modern culture that everyone is on first-name terms makes people confused because they come to believe they really are friends with ‘Harry and Meghan’, or whoever it may be. The famous people thus addressed are also unhappy, because they cannot remember who they do and don’t know, and because they feel that people are trying to own them. Full, formal modes of address provide a ‘Noli me tangere’ which preserves sanity on both sides. Look at the Queen. Who dares call her Lilibet?
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s magazine, out tomorrow