How to Address Nobility?

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Assistant Secretary
Associate Justice,
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Associate Justice of a
   State Supreme Court
Attorney General           
Attorney General,
Attorney, U.S.         
Australian Officials    
Awards, Name on an

Baron, Baroness           
British Officials,
   Royalty, Nobility     
Brother, Catholic
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Bishop, Catholic            
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Bishop, Episcopal        
Board Member     
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Commissioner, Court     
Commodore of a         
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Congressman, U.S.               
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Consul and or
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Corporate Executive         
Counselor (Diplomat)      
County Officials       
    U.S. Military
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    Private Citizens    
    Same Sex

Dalai Lama          
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Doctor of
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Doctor, Optometrist   
Doctor of Osteopathy            
Doctor, Other Disciplines     
Doctorate, honorary      

Elect, Designate
Pro Tempore      
Esquire, Esq.       

First Names, Use of
   Formal / Informal     
First, Second,
   Third , etc .        
First Lady, Spouse
   of the President of
   the United States 
First Lady, Member
    of Her   
    White House Staff      
First Lady, Spouse
   of a U.S. Governor
   or Lt. Gov.    
First Lady, Spouse
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First Lady
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First Lieuten
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Goodwill Ambassador      
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Governor, Tribal Council          
Governor, U.S. State       
Governor, Former    
    Spouse of     
Governor's Staff,
    Member of
Governors, Board of 

High Commissioner    
Honorable, The
Honorary Ambassador       
Honorary degrees
Honorary doctorate
Honourable, The

Indian Chief         
Inspector General    
Interim Official   
   Writing &  
    Writing &

Judge, former     
Judge of US City

     County or State     
Judge, US Federal            
Junior, Senior,
    I, II, III, etc

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court

Justice, Associate

     Supreme Court


Late, The
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Lesbian Couple    
Lieutenant Colonel,     
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Lieutenant General,
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Lieutenant Governor    

Major General,
Man, business
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Marquess / Marchioness
Married Women       
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Mayor, U.S. City   
Mayor, Canadian City    
Mayor Pro Tempore
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   Protestant Clergy       
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Most Reverend, The        
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Mr. (Social)      
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Mrs. vs. Ms.     
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Name Badges or Tags     
Nobility, UK/British
Nobility, Other & Former     
Nun, Catholic
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Officer, Police     

Pastor, Christian Clergy  
   Christian Orthodox  
   Ecumenical Patriarch
   of Constantinople  
People with Two Titles      
Petty Officer
Place Cards            
Plaque, Name on a    
Police Chief
Police Officer                     
Pope, Catholic
Pope, Coptic
Postmaster General         
Presbyter, Orthodox
President, corporate
President of
    College or
President of a
President of a
    US State Assembly 
President (current)
   of the U.S.A.          
President (former)
   of the U.S.A.     
President of the
    U.S.A., spouse of  
    of the U.S.   
Priest, Catholic          
    Christian Orthodox 
Priest, Episcopal        
Prime Minister
   & Academics         
Pro Tempore,
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Ranger, Texas        
   U.S., Federal           
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Reservist, Military      
Retired Military
   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    

   3. Q&A on
       How to Address
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Reverend, The
Right Reverend, The         

Same Sex Couple      
Salvation Army    
School Board Member
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   of Defense, U.S.       
Secretary, Assistant       
Secretary General
   of the U.N.            
Senator, U.S., Federal       
Senator, U.S., State         
Senator, Canadian       
Senior, Junior,
     I, II, III, etc.         
Senior Judge 
Sergeant at Arms
Seventh Day
     Adventist Minister       
Sister, Catholic       

Solicitor General      
Speaker of the U.S.
   House of
Spouse of the
    President of the U.S.       
Spouse of the
    Vice President
    of the U.S.           
Spouse of an
    Elected Official            
State Attorney     
Surgeon General          

Texas Ranger        
Titles & Forms of
    Address, Useless?        
Tombstones, Names on
Town Justice
Town Manager       
The Honorable     
Tribal Officials     
Two Titles,
    Person With

Under Secretary       
US Attorney
US Federal Officials
US State Officials     
US Municipal Officials

Venerable, The        
Veteran (not Retired)         
Very Reverend, The         
VFW Officer/Official    
Vice Mayor       
Vice President
    of the U.S.
Spouse of the
    Vice President
of the U.S.
Vice President-elect
    of the U.S.      
Viscount and/or

Warrant Officer       
White House Staff    
Woman, business        
Woman, social        

Yacht Club Officer      


Foreign National Officials
and Noble Heads of State

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 14 May 2020

How to Use Academic Post-Nominals with a Noble Title?       

How to Use a Noble Title with Your Signature?       

How to Address a Counselor at an Embassy?      

How to Address a King of Saudi Arabia?      
How to Address an Earl, Countess and Their Sons?      

How to Address a Prince?       
How to Address a Princess?       
How to Address a Ruler?      
How to Address a Sheikha?     

How to Address a Current Foreign President?      
How to Address a Former Foreign President    
How to Address a French Senator?    
How to Address a Prime Minister?     

Does a US Citizen Bow to a Foreign Head of State?       
    Does the President Bow to a Foreign King or Queen?    
How to Toast a Foreign Head of State?    

How Do I Introduce a Former British Prime Minister    
    to a Former Mexican President?

What is the Salutation for a Member of the Queen’s Council?   
What Complimentary Close Should a President Use?   

Looking for Diplomats or International Representatives?
Link to Q&A just on Diplomats and International Representatives

How to Address Nobility From a Country
Which No Longer Has a King or Queen?

     I work in the advancement office at Bates College in Maine, and I travel to meet with alumni and parents all over the country and in Europe. I am hoping to secure a meeting in Austria with two Bates graduates who are a count and countess. I would like to send them a notel, but I am unclear as to how to address them. I do not wish to be too formal, but I certainly do not want to be disrespectful.  I see in your book royal forms …but they are British. Can I use those?
        -- RVK

Dear RVK,
     Interesting question: There is an official answer ... and a social answer.
     Officially ... In countries like Republic of Austria which is not a monarchy, having a noble title / being descendant of an aristocratic family / has no legal privileges. Many such families now indicate their pride of their lineage in their family name (e.g., having the particle 'de' [French for of/from] or the the prefix 'van' (Dutch). So at official government events they are addressed as Mr./Ms./Mrs./etc.  ... or whatever honorifics they are entitled to ... Dr., Lieutenant, Professor .... etc. just like any other citizen.
     Socially ... where the royals house is no longer in power – such titles are a matter of pride in one's heritage and personal marks of status. The titles are used at the preference of the bearer.   Some want to be addressed with their -- others don't -- some do but only in certain circumstances. If you don't know, it might be good idea to start addressing them by title ... and if they don't like it they will tell you.  If you know they like to be addressed as a duke or count... when the communication is in English, it is acceptable to use the forms of address of the corresponding British nobility.  As you mention all these are in my book.

       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a French Aristocrat?
     I saw in The New York Times a reference to Jeane de France, Duc de Vendome of the French Royal Dynasty. In your book I don't see a section on French Royalty. What form would one use for this gentleman?
         --- Bill Taylor

Dear Mr. Taylor:
    In my book I cover forms of address for current royalty and nobility, but not former royalty or noblity.
    In the United Kingdom there is a royal family -- so
the nobles -- dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, barons, etc. --- are still officially addressed by their noble titles. Same is true in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Japan and other countries where the head of state is a hereditary monarch.  I do provide forms for all these. But my book is already 576 pages, and I decided it made no sense to include "how to address the Czar" or "how to address the Holy Roman Emperor", when those offices no longer exist.
   In republics -- such as the French Republic -- nobility no longer exists. Jean de France would be the Duc of Vendome if nobility had not been abolished with the French Revolution. Today friends and social acquaintances address him as a duc as a courtesy to honor him and his heritage. In an official situation he would be a Mr. de France (in English).
  That said, if you want to address him socially as a
duc -- use the form I provide for a British duke (page 396), It's widely accepted to use British forms when socially addressing a foreign nobles in English.
                  -- Robert Hickey

I Disagree: Hereditary Titles In France
Have Not Been Abolished

       As the holder of the French title "Comte", I would disagree with your statement that, under the Fifth Republic, noble titles are no longer recognized officially by the State. Under a law dating from 1852, the Second Republic agreed to officially recognize all titles bestowed by the former Monarchy. This has not been revoked, and, contrary to what most Frenchmen believe, hereditary noble titles have not been abolished.
       You are quite right to say that noblemen are no longer officially addressed by their title but it can still appear on their passport, after the names, as " dit/e" or AKA," Le comte de...". I have a British passport, and though my title does not appear in front of my names, it is clearly stated in the Information Section, above the names; "Holder is Count C--- V--- R----". Just to put the record straight!

       -- CVR

Dear CVR,
    I don't mean to diminish your family's history. 
    My book is used by official organizations when communicating with one another. Thus everything I write about (and teach at The Protocol School of Washington®) is on formal forms of address -- suitable for use with officials in official situations.
    For example: On the French government's precedence list there are no members of nobility listed who have official precedence at official French events due to their noble title. But in Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates ... members of the nobility have precedence at official events due to their personal rank.
    Thus when an official issues an invitation to an official event, it is addressed to a person in a manner that reflects their role at the event. Thus the US Secretary of State would not officially address a former king as Your Majesty even though others might choose to do so.
    On a passport, governments will put on them whatever you submit. So having count on your British Passport does not mean the government will defend your precedence based solely on your noble title.
    You are referring to social use .... and in the social context I definitely agree with you.  Socially each of us can decide how we are addressed.

       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Austrian Aristocrat?
    What is the correct form of address when meeting a Count from Austria? He has a daughter that travels with him. What would be her form of address also?
      -- Matt

Dear Matt:
   Austrian nobility was officially abolished in 1919 at the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So, count in Austria is a courtesy title – an unofficial title used as a courtesy in social situations by friends to honor the person’s family history.  I've known Austrian barons who did not like being addressed as a baron saying was not legally accurate to use the titles with Austrian citizens, but if your guest likes it, use it in social situations.  E.g., he would not be officially introduced to the President of the United States as a
Count (name), but it could be included as a point of interest in the introduction.
    All that said, there would be a form of address in German, but I assume you want to address him in English. In English using the forms for a British Earl for counts is widely accepted. In the UK they have
earls rather than counts but they are equivalent ranks. See … How to Address an Earl or Countess … and just replace earl with count.
    If his daughter is the eldest, she will inherit the title, but since he is still alive the title has not yet descended. As a daughter of a count, use the form for a daughter of an earl. As a courtesy (in English using the British model) she'd be addressed as Lady (full name) or in conversation as Lady (first name).

                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Use Academic Post-Nominals with a Noble Title?
       I have a question for you regarding how I should be properly addressed. I am of nobility and the last man in our family. I am the Count James Renninger, but also have two doctorates. I am trying to decide how to incorporate both titles and academic degrees into my name while remaining correct so that I do not make a fool of myself. My question is how should I be addressed being both a Count and a Doctor?
         Dr. J. Renninger?

Dear JL:
        The US form and British forms are the most common models used around the world for address in English.
        Since you are living in the US it follows you would follow the US Style in which you are both a "Count" and a "Dr." but perhaps not at the same time.  Here's what's done:
            1) Post-nominals are used professionally, not socially
            Traditional form would be to use your academic post-nominals with out reference to your hereditary title
                  An official letter is addressed with the academic post-nominal abbreviation:
                          (Full Name), PhD
                  A social letter is addressed with the honorific:
                           Dr. (Full Name)
            2) Hereditary titles from a former monarchy are used socially in the USA, not officially, and most typically not professionally.

        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Russian Aristocracy?
       I hold a number of inherent noble titles, the highest of which being the title of Count of the Russian Empire. These titles are still internationally recognised even though The Russian Empire is no longer in existence.
        I am a UK citizen being born within the UK and having lived there for most of my life. I do actively use my title and have had it recognised in a number of different formats by UK government agency's, however there is always some confusion as to the manner in which I should be formally addressed within the UK. My primary title carries the styling of His Illustrious Highness (HILLH) but as I am sure you can guess this can course some confusion within the UK.
        I was wondering if there is any formal style and manner of address for nobles within the UK who hold foreign titles, such as Count. Ideally anything specifically related to The Russian Empire.
        If you do know of any such styling then I would be very grateful to hear from you.
        -- HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff, BSc (Hons), FdSce, London

Dear Sir:
    I wasn't sure the correct salutation to use!
So, while I don't have an answer for you, I do have some comments. My point of view is formal, official point of view, and definitely ... an American one.
    There's a tradition in forms of address to address by rank ... so your personal rank will be differently considered in various places.
    1) With the current government there are formal diplomatic relations with the current Russian Federation ... but none with the former Russian Empire.  
    So, at The White House you couldn't be officially received as Russian nobility with its implied link to an Imperial Russian head of state.
    You would be received and addressed in the manner appropriate for your official participation at the event.
    Your personal rank would be very interesting to everyone as personal history. We don't have nobility in the US, but many people are descendants of our founders .... and those are relationships of great personal pride to the individual. Maybe it's not exactly parallel, but members of The Daughters of the American Revolution or The Order of Cincinnatti have rank and precedence at their own events, but they receive neither preferential treatment nor special forms of address in official government situations.
    2) In any social situation you should present your name exactly how you want to ... and others should follow your preference. An agency of the British government could use your name -- however you present it -- without validating it to be anything more that what you say your name is. If an official British government agency addresses you as a count, it doesn't imply you are other than a commoner and British citizen ... Right?
    3) His Illustrious Highness isn't a courtesy title used in the British nobility ... and from my experience, rightly or wrongly, most international protocol officers tend to use the British forms with addressing all nobility in English.
    E.g., the King of Thailand is addressed as "Your Majesty" in English even though the actual phrase is different if translated directly from Thai.
    I recently encountered a Polish baroness who requested to be addressed as "Your Imperial Highness."  To me it was a big grand for a baroness since in English we'd use that courtesy title for an Emperor or Empress .... but I called her "Your Imperial Highness." It's not my place to tell her what her name is.  
    4) I think we have more than one persona, and each has a different name. We just need to present the correct version for the individual situation.  
    You are probably in different situations Nick, Nicholas, Mr. Chernoff, and HILLH the Count .....
    Direct others how they should address you and generally they will follow your preference.

                -- Robert

Dear Robert:
As you already stated it very much depends on the situation and the people I am conversing with.
        In regards to most of my financial dealings I tend to use Lord or Mr..  
Lord tends to be the only noble option given other then Sir and Mr because if you have ever tried to order anything online you will understand how rare it is to ever find a title drop-down box with anything in it for males other then Mr and Dr.
        As I work within mainland Europe a lot and spend a lot of time within Norway, France, Austria, Italy, and Germany I tend to use the style of Count with my work dealings as this is more recognised upon the European continent.
        I have at certain times used the following styles depending on the situation:
                His High Ancestry
                His Highborn
                His Illustrious Highness
                His Illustriousness
                Lord Chernoff
                Count Chernoff
        While I am happy with the use of the title of Lord as it is used in England to draw together most levels of the nobility I am weary of using the style of an Earl within England which would be The Right Honourable. My reservations come from the fact that most members of the House of Lord's within the UK hold the style of The Rt Hon and I do not wish to bread extra confusion in the matter of make anyone believe that I am claiming to be part of the UK political system, which I am not.
        I also hold a feudal Scottish title of Laird. The styling is The Much Honoured however this styling tends to depict a title well below the rank of Count. I also feel that this title has been somewhat devalued within recent years after it became legal to sell feudal Scottish titles.
        As with many old European noble titles, my title comes from a cascading noble system. This is important because I have an older brother, HILLH the Prince Simon Nicholas Chernoff, a father, HSH the Prince Nicholas John Chernoff, who both hold titles of a higher grade to me. There titles would be equivalent to Marquees and Duke respectively within the UK.
        I believe this is important when taking into consideration to what style and title to use as I do not wish to breed confusion between myself and my brother or father. My father and brother both rarely use there titles however as people get extremely confused in England when you tell them your a Prince, a title retained within the United Kingdom for members of the royal family.
        I am lucky that I live within the UK as under UK common law I am entitled to use any title or style of address that I see fit as long was it is not in any attempt to defraud people. While this means I could call myself anything, I do of course only wish to stick within the realms of titles I have legal claim to while at the same time making it easier for people to understand my family heritage without too much confusion.
        Interestingly I did have the opportunity to spend some time in Moscow, Russia, last year. I was the first member of my family to return to Russia in 88 years after fleeing during the Russian revolution. While there I was addressed by Russian locals as Count Chernoff, a styling that they decided to use when addressing me in English as my Russian is pretty poor (foreign languages and Dyslexia are not a happy mix).
        Therefore after deep consideration upon the matter I believe I will use the following titles and styles within the following situations:-
        Mr N Chernoff
some finance dealings such as when Lord is not offered and all dealings with the UK tax office
        Lord Chernoff – When in the UK in dealing with all people where the option is given. I will not however adopt the style of The Right Honourable or the title of Earl.
        Count Chernoff – Dealing with on the continent when dealing with foreign co-workers, clients and other such 3rd party's
        HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff – For all formal situations
        I believe by using the above styles and titles in the above stated situations I will stay firmly within the spirit of my inherent titles while reducing confusion when dealing with 3rd party's.
        -- HILLH the Count Nicholas Chernoff, BSc (Hons), FdSce, London

How to Address a Titled Person, in English
When their Title is Not From an
English-speaking Country?

        I am wondering how to write the name of the person who is a comtesse.
        Her name is Comtesse Setsuko Klossowska de Rola. She is Japanese, now lives in Switzerland, is married to a French artist Balthus, and uses the title of a comtesse of Poland.
       Shall I write her name, Lady Setsuko or Comtesse Setsuko?

       -- Yoshiko K.

Dear Yoshiko K.,
Use the British form for the equivalent title: Countess
      Royalty & nobility all over the world are accustomed to being addressed with the British forms when the language is English.
      AND A NOTE: Don't use here given name: Setsuko.
          Counts (earls in the UK) and countesses are of a place.
                The Count of Coventry
The Countess of Shrewsbury
          They are addressed as
                 Lord Coventry
Lady Shrewsbury
          So it should be Lady Place:
                 Lady Rola
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Current
Prime Minister in Conversation?

      How one would address a Prime Minister directly when meeting him/her for the first time. Do you say Hello Mr. Prime Minister or Hello Prime Minister or Hello Mr. (surname)
                   -- A. K. @ RWB & Co.

Dear A.K.:
      Current prime ministers are addressed in two ways. 
      When they are in their country, a current Commonwealth prime minister is orally addressed as Prime Minister.
      When they are outside of their countries they are according the forms of address of a diplomat and are orally addressed as Your Excellency. 

       In general, it is acceptable to use the British forms of address for non-English speaking corresponding officials.  The "prime minister" form I mention above is the British style.  Other nations may have a slightly different form of address in their native language, but when the common language is English, governments modeled after the British parliamentary system find British forms acceptable.
      I have all the British, Canadian and Australian forms in my book should this sort of thing come up often.

                  -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?
      I have a question for you regarding sending a letter to a former Prime Minister of the U.K.
      What is the proper way to address him in the “Address” line and “Dear” line? We think the following might be correct:
          Address Line:    The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
          Salutation:         Dear Mr. (Surname):

                     -- Lorenza & Vinayak

Dear Lorenza & Vinayak,
       Your forms look good. If he's out of office he continues to be "the Right Honourable" but is no longer and  "MP"..
            Address Line:    The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
            Salutation:          Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname):  

      ... with the following comments:
     1) Current foreign prime ministers when traveling abroad are addressed as Your Excellency. But since it's also O.K. to address foreign officials in the style they use 'at home". So you can use for Commonwealth PM's the Right Honourable.

     2) In the U.K. they routinely abbreviate The Right Honourable to The  Rt. Honourable or even The Rt. Hon. ....   But's it's completely acceptable to spell everything out too.  If you do spell it out use the British spelling Honourable rather than the U.S. spelling Honorable. It's always best to present a name the way the person is accustomed to seeing it presented.
    3) In the salutation he is correctly Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)
     -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Introduce a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?
       In the case of wishing to introduce the former British Prime Minister and former President of Mexico before their spoken addresses, what's the right form?

         --- Katherine Littefield, New York

Dear Ms. Littlefield:
    FYI, I cover all this in my book: the UK, Mexico and more than 180 other countries.
    You didn't mention which individuals, but I am going to answer using Tony Blair and Vicente Fox. If you were going to introduce them to the audience -- here are some good forms:
    A former prime minister would be The Right Honourable (Full Name), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from (Year) to (Year). 
A British prime minister is The Right Honourable for life.
    A former Mexican president would be (Full Name), President of the United States of Mexico from (Year) to (Year).
Mexicans don't use the courtesy titles when addressing their officials, so use just (first name)+(last name).
    I would avoid describing them as formers. E.g. in United States we identify former Presidents by their number, e.g., the 43rd President But maybe including the years provides a bit more information?
So, do it however you like.
    Using the formal country names (e.g., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is correct .... just like we most formally say "The President of the United States of America."
          -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Foreign President?
       We recently videotaped an interview with the President of the Republic of Panama when he returned to visit us at his alma mater.  We have prepared a rough draft of the transcript to return to him, and I must include a cover letter with it.  How should the inside address and salutation be written?
                   -- SKP, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

       I am sending an invitation to the President and First Lady of Haiti and need to know how to properly address them. Can you tell me the correct way?
                   -- SC at the Leadership Council

Dear SKP & SC:
        There are two options:
        OPTION ONE: If you know the traditional form of address used in the country -- use it.
             In my book I have a block on every country that's a member of the United Nations .... and on page 506 I include that the protocol dept. of the Panamanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. says in Panama they address their president as:
                   His/Her/Your Excellency (Full Name)
             I also give the forms for a salutation:
                   Your Excellency:
             No Dear is necessary.
        OPTION TWO: You can also address a foreign chief of state as a diplomat ... and use "Excellency"
                   His Excellency (Full Name)
                        and Mrs. (Surname)

             In this case the results were the same, but that's not always the case.
             Some would argue that using the traditional form of address that is used in his country is best when addressing him in his own country and the diplomatic form is best when he or she is traveling outside his or her country. 
             So Option One is best, and Option Two to is a reasonable second choice.
             -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Former Foreign President?
        We are heading to Russia tomorrow and we have their former president, Mikhail Gorbachev, attending a dinner we are hosting. What is the appropriate title for him, given that he is a former President?
         -- Going to Moscow

Dear Going to Moscow:
       Address him as "Mr. Gorbachev", and identify him as "the former president of ... "  It's considered disrespectful to current heads of government to address former head of government by their former forms of address.
       If you meet the current president, FYI, Russians do not address their national officials with courtesy titles. I checked with every embassy and included detailed information one each: the info is on the Russian Federation is on page 511.

       -- Robert Hickey

How Do I Introduce a Former Commonwealth Prime Minister?
       In the case of wishing to introduce the former British Prime Minister and former President of Mexico before their spoken addresses, what's the right form?

         --- Katherine Littefield, New York

Dear Ms. Littlefield:
    FYI, I cover all this in my book: the UK, Mexico and more than 180 other countries.
    You didn't mention which individuals, but I am going to answer using Tony Blair and Vicente Fox. If you were going to introduce them to the audience -- here are some good forms:
    A former prime minister would be The Right Honourable (Full Name), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from (Year) to (Year). 
A British prime minister is The Right Honourable for life.
    A former Mexican president would be (Full Name), President of the United States of Mexico from (Year) to (Year).
Mexicans don't use the courtesy titles when addressing their officials, so use just (first name)+(last name).
    I would avoid describing them as formers. E.g. in United States we identify former Presidents by their number, e.g., the 43rd President But maybe including the years provides a bit more information?
So, do it however you like.
    Using the formal country names (e.g., United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is correct .... just like we most formally say "The President of the United States of America."
          -- Robert Hickey

What Complimentary Close Should a Chief of State Use?
      Does a President of a country end correspondence or note card with a complimentary close? Would it be appropriate
for our President to use an expressions such as yours sincerely on a card? I checked out my copy of your book, but it only covers how to address people with titles.
         -- S @ The Presidency, PSOW Grad in the Mediterranean

Dear S@TP:
     Yes ... I guess I did write the book for people (like me -- without a title) writing TO those with titles. All correspondence that is signed includes a complimentary close. With regards to which complimentary close your President should use, I did some research and found the following;
    The President of the United States signs a letter with the complimentary close: Sincerely
         See the complimentary close on this letter from the President of the United States.
    And the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom uses: Yours Sincerely
the complimentary close on this letter from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom .
    Yours Sincerely seems a bit fancy to us in the US, but is quite standard in the U.K. Either closing would be very appropriate for your President to use when writing a card in English.

         -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a French Senator?
     I am addressing a formal letter in French to a member of the French Senate as follows:
           L'honorable Robert XXX, Senateur
                 Senat - Hauts-de-Seinge Department
          Cher Senateur XXX,

     I know you are the expert on these issues, and would appreciate your guidance. Thank you.
             -- April McLean, Assistant Director
                 XXX University Law School

Dear Ms. McLean:
  French citizens do not address their national officials as Honorable. Officials are formally addressed as Mr./Madam (office) as in Mr. President of the Republic (Monsieur le President de la République), Mr. Prime Minister (Monsieur le Premier Ministre), Mr. President for a president of council or chamber in the legislature (Monsieur le Président), Mr. Senator (Monsieur le Sénateur),
or Mr. Deputy (Monsieur le Député).
    So I would not use "The Honorable" ... on the envelope just his name: Robert XXX  ... and use as the salutation use Monsieur le Sénateur:

       -- Robert Hickey

Rock Royalty Meets Authentic Royalty?
     I saw in the paper that Lady Gaga was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. Is Lady Gaga really a "Lady"?
           -- New York Times Reader

Dear NYT-R:
    Lady Gaga ("Poker Face," "Just Dance," "Paparazzi" ... ) is not a
Lady in the way the British use the title. She is really Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta of the New York, New York Germanottas. I guess that most formally one would address her as Ms. Germanotta, although I admit probably no one does.
Lady in the U.K. use of the honorific would be a woman holding the rank of Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, or Baroness ... or be the wife of a man holding one of the corresponding ranks ... or be married to a Baronet or Knight ... or be a Life Peeress in her own right.
      It seems unlikely that Stefani Germanotta is any of those.  But the photo in the New York Times made it look as though she delivered a very dignified performance when she was presented to Her Majesty.

       -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Counselor (A Foreign Diplomat)?
     How should I address foreign diplomats who are not the ambassador – rather, they are in the ambassador’s office. Their positions are “Counselor, Deputy Chief of Mission” and “Counselor, Congressional Liaison Officer.” Thanks in advance for your assistance,

     -- Ellen

Dear Ellen:
Everyone at a foreign embassy .... except the ambassador .... is:
          Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Full Name)
               Embassy of (Official Name of Country)

     In a salutation they would be
          Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Surname):
     "Counselor" is not used as an honorific in writing for a diplomat. Include their office after their name in an introduction ... but not on an envelope. 
     RE: Use of Mrs. or Ms.: Internationally "Ms." is not as ubiquitous as it is in the US, but a foreign diplomat serving in the US would be familiar with it.
     Only an accredited ambassador who has presented his credentials to the head of state or head of the international organization is addressed as "His/Her Excellency" or in direct address "Your Excellency"

-- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Sheikha?
     I am sending a formal letter to Sheikha Hussah Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah, a member of the royal family of Kuwait and director of the Kuwait National Museum. Could you please advise me on how to address her in the salutation?
    I believe she is an H.E. ... Her husband is H.E. Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Special Advisor to H.H. The Crown Prince and Prime Minister. Sheikh Nasser is the son of H.H. Sabah Al-Ahmed Al- Jaber Al-Sabah, the Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs for Kuwait.

          -- Rachel @  The Natural History Museum

Dear Rachel:
     Her husband is an H.E. ... not an H.H.

     As an H.E. he's His Excellency ... and while
H.H. ... His Highness would transfer to a wife .... H.E. would not.  His Excellency means he holds the rank of ambassador.  Spouses of an H.E. are not addressed as an H.E. unless they are an ambassador in their own right..
     Therefore .... the correct form is:
          Sheika Hussah Sabah al-Salim al-Sebah
               Kuwait National Museum

     And in the salutation:
Hussah Sabah al-Salim al-Sebah:
          Sheika Hussah:
     Kuwaiti's use the given name in salutations and it is not considered too personal.
     -- Robert Hickey

   Thank you for the information. It was a great help! I was making an artifact loan request so the last thing I wanted to do was offend her by addressing her improperly.

          -- Rachel @  The Natural History Museum

How to Address a Current Prime Minister in Writing?
     How do I address visiting current prime ministers (heads of government)? 
Specifically the PM of Moldova, the PM/Chairman, Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, The PM of Lithuania, the PM of Haiti and the PM of Cameroon.
           -- KB in Washington

Dear KB:
     Each prime minister may have a specific way they are addressed by their fellow countrymen .... but when the official is traveling internationally, and the common language is English, address each as:
           His/Her Excellency (full name)
           Prime Minister of the (official country name)

    "His Excellency" for men.  "Her Excellency" for women.
    And in the salutation:

           Your Excellency:
    If you have a copy of my book, I include the official names of every country in the country-by-country information
. It is also acceptable to use the form they use 'at home."  I also list those in my book. But for consistency when hosting several prime ministers, use His/Her/Your Excellency for all.
    Why are
Prime Ministers addressed as Your Excellency when traveling? The logic is they are traveling as 'ambassadors of their government"  and as such, they are addressed as accredited diplomats while on international missions.
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Use Your Noble Rank in Your Signature?
         How do I add my noble title Baron to my name when I am writing my signature in the English language?  I live in Sweden, but our family's noble rank was presented 1638 in Hungary in the 300-year war holding back the Ottomans from Europe. Now as the head of our family I have to be able to communicate properly as the Baron.
        -- Borg Lizska

Dear Borg Lizska:
        The answer is: one does not include the title as a part of your signature.
        Others address you in a manner that note your noble rank (I cover all those traditional forms of address in my book), but when one writes one's name -- one gives oneself neither a title nor an honorific.
The King of Sweden signs his name Carl XVI Gustaf. The Queen of the United Kingdom signs her name Elizabeth II. 
        Certainly their stationery has their full name printed on it. -- or their title and full name would appear elsewhere on the document -- and we hope the person seeing the signature knows whose signature it is.
        So .... have stationery printed with your title and simply sign your name.
        -- Robert Hickey

How to Address the Ruler of Dubai?
Dear Mr. Hickey:
I was asked this afternoon to draft a letter to Sheikh Mohammed of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. How do I address the Sheikh correctly in both the address and the salutation?
    -- Donna in tech world

Dear Donna:
     This form is listed on page 424. The Ruler of Dubai holds a noble rank and is always directly addressed orally as "Your Highness" and in writing as "His Highness Sheikh (name)".
     You referred to him as "Shiekh Mohammed of the UAE". He is the Ruler of Dubai - AS WELL AS - the Prime Minister of the UAE, so be specific in your address. For example, if you are writing him as the Ruler of Dubai, use the following:
        His Highness
        Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum   
        Ruler of Dubai

    Letter salutation:
        Your Highness:

    In my book (pages 424-425) I go into more detail on all the forms of address used in the Emirates, but what's above are the basics.
                        -- Robert Hickey

What is the Salutation for a Member of the Queen's Council?
      I am writing a letter to:
           The Honorable Robert Haynes, QC
           Attorney at-Law
        Firm Name
    How do I address him in the salutation line?
     -- DAH- Jamaica

Dear DAH:

     If he’s addressed as “The Honorable” he must be a former member of the Cabinet in Jamaica? But “Honorable” is never used in salutations.
     Members of Jamaica's Queen's Council (QC) ... are addressed in a salutation:
Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (surname):
                     -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Princess?
    I have a Thai Princess coming to our military installation for a visit, and I am looking for guidance on how to interact with Thai Royalty.  Is there a preferred way to greet her?  Thank you so much!!
           -- George Clark, Protocol Officer and PSOW Graduate

Dear Mr. Clark:
    If she's a princess // member of the Thai royal family // she's a Your Royal Highness. Some info on Thailand's government and officials is on page 525 of "Honor & Respect"... and the forms for royal princess on page 430.
    In the US you can follow the same level of formality, same styles, you would use for visiting British nobles ... using the British model for royalty and nobility anywhere in the English speaking world is completely acceptable.
    In her world there are "Royal Persons,"  "Peers," and "Commoners" ... and they don't have the tradition of 'all men are created equal.' But she will have more knowledge of US customs that you have of Thai customs! I would wait for her to offer her hand first in shaking hands -- which she may, but if she does not -- just keep your hands to your sides and greet her warmly in word and expression.
               -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Belgian Prince? 
        What is the proper greeting when meeting the Prince of Belgium? Is protocol the same as meeting the British Royals?
                -- Marilee Tatum

Dear Ms. Tatum:
        The form of address for the princes of the Belgian Royal Family in both French and Dutch is Monseigneur.
       But, in English it is acceptable to use the forms of address used when addressing similarly ranked British royalty ... so all the Belgian princes can be addressed as Your Royal Highness.

                -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Earl, Countess, and Their Sons?
     Hi! I'm in the process of proofing my regency romance and want to make sure I have the titles correct.
     1) Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland, or Lord and Lady Richland?
     2) If the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount, can a father and eldest son both be Lord (Surname) at the same time?
     3) I understand that the younger son can be called Lord by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.
           -- LBT

Dear LBT:
      British titles aren't easy ... unless you are raised with them!  The British books give directions on what to do rather than just the answer ... so I wrote my book for those of us (like me) who want just the facts and fast.
     1) Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland, or Lord and Lady Richland?
    An earl/countess is always addressed in formal conversation as "Lord/Lady."  
    "Earl" and "countess" are not used oral address, Someone might refer to the earl/countess by his or her title when specificity is needed when speaking about the earl/countess to a third person. Otherwise it would "Lord/Lady (Name)" such as in  "Lord Ferrers will be here in 20 minutes."
     2) Can a father and eldest son both be a Lord (Surname) at the same time?
     The (name) in the title may or may not be their surname ... So don't think of it as "Lord (Surname)" think of it as "Lord (Name of Earldom)."
    Only the titled person (the father) is addressed as "Lord (name)" ... so a son would not be addressed as "Lord" until the title passes, when his father dies ... but read the next note.

     3) Maybe the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount? I understand that the younger son can be called "lord" by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.
     Actually the father is a both the Marquess and the Viscount. He is addressed by his highest title and the lower title is not used. So the eldest son (who will inheriting the titles) can use 'Viscount' -- one of his father's unused titles -- during his father's lifetime.
    Both a 'Marquess' and a 'Courtesy Viscount" are addressed as "Lord (Name)."
    There's a different formula for younger sons ... who are "Honourable" and "Mr. (Surname)" ... and have no title to pass on.  And yes -- in this case (Surname) is their family name.

             -- Robert Hickey

How to Address the King of Saudi Arabia?
      This afternoon I am to draft a congratulatory message for the National Day of Saudi Arabia to the King of Saudi Arabia in his capacity as Prime Minister and would welcome your expertise.  What would be the appropriate form of address both on the envelope and in the salutation?
             -- Renata Bankoff

Dear Ms. Bankoff:
   The King of Saudi Arabia has a special courtesy title all to himself and there is a form of address to use it:
       Envelope:     The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques
                             The King of Saudi Arabia
       Salutation:   Your Majesty:

    Two holy mosques are the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.
    I suppose you could list under his name that he was also prime minister, but being king pretty much trumps being the PM.
    FYI, your question is answered in my book on page 420 in a chapter where I cover the forms of address for every current noble head of state in the world.
               -- Robert Hickey

Does a US Citizen Bow to a Foreign Head of State?
Does the President Bow to a Foreign King or Queen?

         How deeply does a US citizen bow or curtsy when meeting a king or queen? Then as a follow-up, does the President of the United States bow or curtsy when meeting a king or queen on an official visit to their country?
      -- Jennifer Ripley, Winchester, Tennessee

Dear Ms. Ripley,
    I'd say there are two schools of thought on this and which camp you fall into probably depends of whether you think bowing is symbolic of being subject, or simply shows respect in a way that is understoon within the host's culture: when in Rome one does as the Romans do.
    1) In ceremonial situations I would follow the advice of Chris Young, President of the Protocol Diplomacy International / Protocol officers Association (he's also Chief of Protocol of the State of Georgia, and Director of International Affairs) when he says “Look no further than the U.S. Constitution, which states in Article I, Section 9, that ‘No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States.’ Those weren’t just words that prohibited Congress from naming someone a prince or princess, duke or duchess, lord or lady.  Those words were clear signals that in the U.S. all persons are on equal footing: that no nobility would exist here and thus no one had to bow to anyone. Certainly people here have titles such as president, chief executive officer, mayor, chancellor, and the like, but none of those titles was encoded on someone’s DNA.  Titles were to be ascending, earned through one’s own sweat equity and remarkable character, rather than descending, simply a generational bequeath to one’s progeny.”
    So a US citizen -- when meeting a royal chief of state in the United States or in the monarch’s country -- should simply offer a nod of their head (the sort of acknowledgement one might grant to anyone when you meet them as a sign of respect) and shake the hand of the monarch if it was offered. This contrasts with whatever might be an appropriate sign of fealty from a subject of the
royal chief of state -- such as an actual bow or curtsy
    Regarding the President. again I would quote of
Chris Young, when he says both are “equals on the world stage.  Both are heads of state …. the only order of precedence that exists between the two is usually an alphabetical one rather than one of rank.”
    Since they are peers neither would actually bow to the other. So no, the President of the United States would perhaps offer nod of the head as a sign of respect and shake hands.
    2) Other people say that in unofficial situations following the etiquette of another culture -- when in their domain -- is respectful. So a bow does not indicate one is a subject: it just means one is a respectful guest.
          -- Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?
(1) At left is a list offices/officials covered and (2) below are other topics covered in my blog. Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     But after checking both lists if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – but I always change the names and specifics.
      -- Robert Hickey

Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
Sequence Post-Nominal Abbreviations: Sr., Jr., etc.    
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services
       Addressing Active Duty Personnel              
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

Author's Name on His/Her Book       
Business Cards, Names on
Introductions, Names in
Invitations: Names on
Invitations: Names of Armed Service Personnel on        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates, Names on    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
Tombstones, Names on      

Site updated by Robert Hickey on 14 May 2020


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Available in   Hardcover   /  Kindle   /  Apple Book

Copyright © 2020 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.