When "Thanks for the grub" doesn't quite cut it.
November 28, 2007 7:26 AM   Subscribe

How do I properly thank an Ambassador?

I'm a Peace Corps volunteer who was invited (with the rest of the in-country volunteers) to the Ambassadorial residence for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, I'd like to send a thank-you message on behalf of my group for the invitation, but don't really know how to proceed beyond that.

Is there a protocol (beyond using titles as opposed to given/family names) that I should be observing? Preferred/suggested verbiage? A specific level of formality? This is a world I've never inhabited before, and am uncertain as to how to approach. Suggestions greatly appreciated.
posted by the luke parker fiasco to Human Relations (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen this thread, but am hoping for some suggestions that lean more toward the post-event protocol than an RSVP
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2007

Fererro Rocher!

(Sorry, I couldn't resist...)

Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior has a section on just this, however. I don't have a copy at the moment or I'd look it up for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:44 AM on November 28, 2007

This might be a little helpful, but not entirely what you want by any means.
posted by WCityMike at 8:11 AM on November 28, 2007

Definitely address him/her by their title. Being invited to an Ambassador's house for Thanksgiving dinner, an evening typically filled with friends and family, is a pretty special and intimate event. Kudos to your Ambassador to provide a bit of home-away-from-home for you and your group on a day where being away from your family can lead to homesickness. I'd go with personable, respectful and appreciative text and not worry about the level of formality. Add any personal reflections from the evening from either you or your group. Remember, Ambassadors are people too.
posted by KathyK at 8:30 AM on November 28, 2007

Try this. It's not specific to your situation, but will give you a starting point.
posted by smcniven at 8:31 AM on November 28, 2007

[Since you were invited for Thanksgiving and it's the Peace Corps, I'm going to take the liberty of presuming that you, the Ambassador, and your home country are American. If I'm wrong, please forgive my nationalism! I'm also going to assume you don't have any official Peace Corps stationery, if such a thing exists.]

I'm not a diplomat or protocol officer but I have to do exactly this sort of thing fairly regularly for work. If it were me, I would go the following route:

Get a nice, expensive card on heavy high-quality paper (preferably ecru), with a pre-engraved seasons-greetings message, ideally non-religious, ideally with a gold ink or foil accent. Not this exactly, but something like it. You can never go wrong with Crane, if it's available where you are, though I'm guessing not. Inside the card, with a black ink pen (preferably rollerball or gel), write something along this line:

(Was the ambassador's spouse attending the dinner, serving as co-host? If so, be sure to include him/her on the salutation inside.)
Dear Ambassador Lastname and Mrs. Lastname,
On behalf of [formal name of your group], I write to extend our heartfelt gratitude for your hospitality at Thanksgiving. We are all proud to be representing the United States in [host country], but when we are away from home at the holidays, the opportunity to share a meal with Americans is especially appreciated. Thank you for a lovely evening of fellowship.

Please accept our best wishes to your family and the Embassy staff for a happy, peaceful holiday season.

Warm regards,
the luke parker fiasco
[your title if you have one]
There are loads of resources online for addressing diplomats, so double-check those and also adjust for spouse and gender... but, this is what I would be doing.
posted by pineapple at 8:49 AM on November 28, 2007

It's "Your Excellency." Awesome, I know, but also true.

Otherwise pineapple's letter is perfect (if he's american.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2007

Also, a protocol breach in terms of the correct title would not even be noticed, so don't worry too much about it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:57 AM on November 28, 2007

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone!

CunningLinguist: I was under the impression that "Your Excellency" was used to address Ambassadors of countries other than your own. I wasn't clear in my original post, but pineapple was correct in that the invitees were all American, and the event was at the foreign residence of the American Ambassador. Would it, in this case, be "Mr./Madam Ambassador", or "Your Excellency"?
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 9:52 AM on November 28, 2007

Well whaddaya know. This is what wikipedia says about the title.

Though ambassadors are traditionally accorded the title elsewhere, the U.S. government does not use "excellency" for its diplomatic corps, preferring "the honorable" instead.

(I've been around (non US) diplomatic circles all my life and never knew this.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:35 PM on November 28, 2007

But again, don't get hung up on the title. Diplomats only notice breaches of protocol from other diplomats, because it could mean a diss of some subtle sort. They don't expect real people to know the arcane lingo.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:37 PM on November 28, 2007

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