How to Address British Officials

How to Address the Prime Minister?

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

Dear A.K.:

Current prime ministers are addressed in two ways.

—-#1) When they are in their country, a current Commonwealth prime minister is addressed in writing as:

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The Right Hon.
—-—-(Full name), MP
—-—-Prime Minister
—-—-(Address)

—-—-The Right Hon.
—-—-(Full name), MP
—-—-Prime Minister of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
—-—-(Address)

—-Letter salutation:
——–Dear Prime Minister:

—-And in conversation as:
—-—-Prime Minister.

—-#2) When they are outside of their countries they are according the forms of address of a diplomat and are orally addressed as Your Excellency, and His/Her Excellency (Full Name).

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-His/Her Excellency
—-—-(Personal honorific if presented) (full name), (post nominals as presented)
—-—-Prime Minister of (full name of country)
—-—-(Address)

—-#3) In the U.S.A. the U.S. Department of State uses the forms in #1, and everyone else in the U.S.A. follows suit.

—-#4) Abbreviating the Right Honourable to The Right Hon. is standard in the United Kingdom.  See note on use of the British spelling of honourable. 

— Robert Hickey How to Address British Officials

How to Address British Officials
How To Address a Former Lord Mayor?

Do you happen to know if the The Right Honourable may continue to be used by a former Lord Mayor of a city in the UK? In this case, it is the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, who, to my knowledge, carries no other honorifics, titles, peerages, or post-nominals.

If so, would it be: The Right Honourable, the former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Mr. Duncan Sandys?
_______________– Chris

Dear Chris:
Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the City of London, and many other cities have lord mayors. A woman who holds the office is also addressed as Lord Mayor. The wife of a lord mayor is traditionally addressed in the city as the Lady Mayoress of (city).

—-A current Lord Mayor is addressed as:

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-The Right Hon. the Lord Mayor of (city)
—-—-(Honorific if presented) (full name), (post nominals or honors)
—-—-(Address)

—-Conversation:
—-—-Lord Mayor

Former Lord Mayors are not addressed as The Right Honourable unless they hold that courtesy title by virtue of peerage or as a member of the Privy Council.  See note on use of the British spelling of honourable.

Absent being a member of the Privy Council or being a peer addressed as The Right Honourable, former Lord Mayors revert to Mr./Ms. (Full Name), former Lord Mayor of Westminster.

— Robert Hickey   How to Address British Officials

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address British Officials
How to Address a Former 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 on 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.

—-Envelope:
—-—-The Rt. Hon. (Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Dear Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname):

—-Conversation:
—-—-Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname):

… with the following comments:

1) If he is no longer a member of Parliament – he no longer is an MP. Once you are a the Right Honourable – you keep it. So a former Prime Minister is still the Right Honourable (Full Name).

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. Not everyone does that, but I think it’s always best to present a name the way the person is accustomed to seeing it presented.

3) Don’t address him as Prime Minister.  In the salutation he is correctly Mr./Ms./etc. (Surname)

— Robert Hickey

How to Address British Officials
How to Address a High Sheriff

The office of high sheriff is appointed for a county by the sovereign, in contrast with an appointed or elected sheriff who serves a town or village.  To an American eye, this British use of Esq. is interesting. In the U.S., Esq. is used when writing to an attorney about pending litigation. Here it’s a title of respect for a person who does not have a grander title. As used with the High Sheriff,  Esq. denotes a high, but undefined, social status.  I have never found a form for a woman high sheriff, but predict she would be Esq. too.

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-(Full name), Esq.
—-—-High Sheriff of (place)
—-—-(Address)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Sir/Madam:

—-Conversation:
—-—-Sheriff
—-—-—-or
—-—-Mr./Mrs. Sheriff
—-—-—-or
—-—-Mr./Mrs./etc. (surname)

– Robert Hickey How to Address British Officials

Australian,  British and Canadian forms of address are related.
See note on use of British spelling in honourable and right honourable.

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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