The academy that is training the next generation of ambassadors

The Foreign Office has to do more with a reduced budget. In the race to be the world’s most effective diplomatic service, will it always be second to France?

The World Today Updated 14 December 2020 Published 31 July 2015 4 minute READ

Michael Binyon

Former Diplomatic Editor, The Times

In the past they would arrive at their first embassy, self-confident, well connected, aware of their country’s global status and assured of a career in the higher realms of diplomacy. And they would watch their superiors in action, learning the art of negotiation and the trademark suavity that concealed a Machiavellian mind.

Young British diplomats today have no time for such a gentle induction. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, like all government departments, is under permanent pressure to cut its costs and its staff. And a young diplomat has to be able to plunge straight in – engage in multilateral negotiations, represent Britain in conferences, promote British exports, deal with consular emergencies, appear on TV and master social media in a revamped communications strategy. There is no time to slip gently into the routine – and no money for elegant dinner parties.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.