From Fox, Kate: Watching the English (2014 ed). p. 499 Bottom.
The Self-deprecating Insult Rule
Speaking of privileged schoolchildren and the English art of indirectness, here is a quote I came across in a posh magazine from a mother whose daughter was in the same house as Kate Middleton (now the Duchess of Cambridge, married to Prince William) at Marlborough, a very grand private boarding school: ‘There was always something slightly galling about having your children at school with the Middletons. Every pristine item of clothing would have a beautifully sewn-in name tape, for instance. It was unthinkable that they would end up resorting to marker pens on labels like the rest of us. There were huge picnics at sports day, the smartest tennis racquets, that kind of thing. It made the rest of us all feel rather hopeless.’
To anyone who understands English class-indicators, this mother’s apparently humble statement – all self-denigrating and full of admiration for the Middleton family’s perfections – is not only an indirect boast, but also a subtle snobby put-down. Even if you are not English, if you’ve read the rest of this book, you should have no trouble deciphering the coded insults:
• You will know, as this mother clearly does, that caring about every item of clothing being ‘pristine’, with perfectly sewn-in name tapes, is a middle-middle or even lower-middle indicator. Even the word ‘pristine’ is a sneer: only the suburban bourgeoisie regard it as a term of approbation, and fuss about having everything ‘pristine’ or ‘spotless’. Remember the lines from Betjeman’s satirical poem. ‘You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes/And I must have things daintily served’? (Or if you want a more modern example, think of the desperate social-climber Hyacinth Bucket, in the television comedy Keeping Up Appearances, and her constant fretting over such dainty details.)
The boldened lines refer to this poem.