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An ambassador serving abroad symbolizes the sovereignty of his/her home country and serves as the personal representative of its head of state. Ambassadorial duties include negotiating agreements, reporting on political, economic and social conditions, advising on policy options, protecting home country interests, and coordinating the activities of all home country agencies and personnel in the host country. By virtue of the position, ambassadors abroad rely on the support of and are afforded special courtesies by the entire mission staff. These courtesies apply to the ambassadors of other countries as well.

In direct conversation, address an ambassador as Mr./Madam Ambassador or Ambassador Tolstoy. His/her spouse should be referred to as Mr./Mrs. Tolstoy or Ms. Tolstoy, if the spouse is a woman who kept her maiden name after marriage. It is proper to rise when an ambassador and/or his/her spouse enters a room just as you would for the head of state. When making introductions to an ambassador, everyone but a head of state is presented to him/her. In other words, the ambassador's name and title is stated first, then the person being introduced. An ambassador and his/her spouse precede all others when entering or leaving a room. The official place for the ambassador in the car is the backseat, curbside. His/her car is allowed to pass before all others. At ceremonies that take place on ships, the ambassador is the first to step on deck and the first to step off, and at airport ceremonies, he/she is the last to board and the first to disembark. When you attend social functions that the ambassador and other high-ranking diplomatic officers are also attending, you should arrive approximately fifteen minutes early and make a special point to greet these officers. A personal greeting, however, is not necessary at a very large reception. Many of these courtesies are also extended to senior officers and visiting officials such as members of the Cabinet or members of parliament.

Adapted from material published by the Overseas Briefing Center of the U.S. Department of State.


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