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Archive for April, 2011

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 Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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

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We recently videotaped an interview with The President of the Republic of Panama His Excellency Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal when he returned to his alma mater for a visit.  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?
Please note: the text in red above is how we are referring to him on the title page of his transcript.
I found a recent letter on-line addressed to him as Mr. President and President Berrocal.  Is this the correct?
 — SKP, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Dear SKP:
What you see on the letter you found on-line is definitely a respectful form of address, but is neither the style we use in the US or the style they use in Panama.
In my book I have a block on every country in the United Nations …. and on page 506 I include that the protocol dept. of the Panamanian Embassy says that in Panama they address their president as:
His/Her/Your Excellency
So use:
His Excellency Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal
I also give the forms for addressing a president addressed as an Excellency on page 408. The salutation for a person addressed with the courtesy title Excellency is:
Your Excellency:
No Dear is necessary.

RE: How you are referring to him on the title page:
Whether the office is first or his name is first is a reflection of which is more important to you.
The way you have it written shows the office is more important.
Using His Excellency Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, President of the Republic of Panama would reflect a different view.

I know the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock has a copy of my book on their reference shelf. Maybe they need one in Fayetteville too!
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am researching the usage of post nominal letters for our university president’s correspondence.  Specifically I am looking for a comprehensive list of post nominal letters, as they apply to professions and academia.   The only list I have been able to locate was published in 1911; I am sure an updated list has been compiled since then, but I cannot find one.  Any assistance you can provide in locating an updated list is much appreciated.
 — EG in Atlanta

Dear EG:
I can see how such a list would be useful!
A comprehensive list is something I thought about, and when I was writing my book at first I assumed I would include a comprehensive list of post-nominals.
But after working on the list for a while I realized that the list would be endless and always out of date.
So many institutions giving so many degrees … and each coming up with their own idiosyncratic variations for the abbreviations!
I could suggest you do it …. but  … I now know that putting any post nominal in Google quickly leads to the answer.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I’m working on name badges for speakers at our college’s conference and I’ve never been sure how to include degrees on name badges. What is the correct order?
Mark Johnson, BS, MA, PhD ?
or
Mark Johnson PhD, MA, BS?
Do you list them all or just the highest?
Heidi Miller PhD, MA, BA
or
Heidi Miller, PhD
 — LR

Dear LR:
Degrees are listed highest to lowest when more than one is included.
Regarding the decision to include degrees on name badges … most often name badges are written to provide information to facilitate networking and conversation. They aren’t biographies. Usually name badges provide the person’s call-by name.
In an academic environment where you might decide it’s necessary to use “Dr.” … so you might also give everyone honorifics .. Mr./Ms./etc. … to keep them consistent.:
Mr. Robert Hickey

Dr. Heidi Miller 

or provide some extra information:
Mr. Robert Hickey
The Protocol School of Washington


Dr. Heidi Miller
Department of Biology


or even more:
Mr. Robert Hickey
Deputy Director
The Protocol School of Washington


Dr. Heidi Miller
Professor
Department of Biology


– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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If a politician does a favor for a citizen, how does the citizen properly thank the politician? I sent a business letter to my local elected official asking for help. He not only responded immediately but acted in less than 24 hours. I am so thankful for his help! A card seems too personal and an email seems too unexceptional. Should I send thanks as a business letter?
   — Cindy

Dear Cindy:
A hand-written card expressing thanks is never incorrect. But if you want something more official, write him a letter. In today’s world of email and voice mail … a note or letter gets maximum attention.
Use a standard business-letter format, address to his office, re-state your request for the record, praise his actions/helpfulness, and end with sincere thanks.
If you really want to make him happy …. tell him you are going to tell a dozen neighbors about his action.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am preparing a letter to the VP in his role as President of the Senate to be signed by our CEO. For addressing the letter, would I use the protocol for addressing him as The Vice President, Old Executive Office Building, Washington, DC; Dear Mr. Vice President or asPresident of the Senate?  If it should be as President of the Senate, would he be addressed asThe Honorable Joseph Biden?
I refer to your Web site often and find it very helpful – thank you very much for any assistance you can give me.
— Pat at MCC in DC

Dear Pat:
There is always a flurry of comments in the media when they pick up that The President of the United States addresses The Vice President presiding as The President of the Senate at the State of the Union Address as Mr. President.
But he is absolutely correct in doing so, because in that room The Vice Presidentis Mr. President of the Senate.
George Bush one year addressed Dick Cheney as Mr. Vice President and the protocol professionals went into meltdown mode.
I include that form of address on page 168 of my book. The envelope to the Vice President as President of the Senate is addressed to The Vice President at his/her Senate’s office on Capitol Hill:
The Vice President
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The salutation is to the Vice President in his capacity as President of the Senate is:
Dear Mr. President
If the letter is to him or her as the Vice President it goes to The Old Executive Office Building … the salutation is to:
Dear Mr. Vice President
This is consistent with the American tradition that we give an official just one title at a time …but address a person who he or she is to us at that moment. I usually give the example of a Navy Captain who is an MD … who you address as “Captain” as your commanding officer but as “Dr.” when he is examining your foot,
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Mr. Hickey – this is HUGELY helpful, thank you very much and yes, I will order your book.  We were close to getting it all right except for the envelope, so glad you included that info – thanks again, Pat

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Can a former U.S. Army Captain that was medically retired after three years of service use their rank … e.g., Cpt (full name) USA, Ret. or is that designation reserved for service members that completed 20 or more years of military service and reached full military retirement?
   — Kristen Selleck

Dear K.S.:
If the member was medically retired they may use the rank in the same manner as a service member who retired after serving for 20 years.  However, it they were medically separated or temporarily retired then … they would not.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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