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Archive for the ‘Precedence Q&A’ Category

If a former secretary of defense (and spouse) and a sitting governor (and spouse) are to be in a receiving line, what is the order of the receiving line? The event is a formal luncheon hosted by a couple. The former secretary of defense is attending with his wife. The governor is attending with her husband. HELP!
             — IR

Dear IR,
A current governor has higher precedence than a former secretary, especially if the governor is in his own state. If the spouses are going to be in the receiving line, a spouse typically stands next to their official spouse, though they have nor formal precedence themselves.
So the order would be: the host, the hostess (spouse of the host), governor, the governor’s spouse, the former secretary, then the former secretary’s spouse.
I include a precedence list in my book if this sort of thing comes up often!
      — Robert Hickey

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A quick question – we are a non-profit organizing an annual awards luncheon. Traditionally we recognize elected officials in the audience (this year our Congressman and several city council members and county commissioners) from the podium. This year a State Representative will also offer keynote remarks. The question is – would protocol dictate the other elected officials are recognized before the State Rep is introduced and speaks, or vice versa, or does the order matter as long as all are recognized?  Thank you!
— Brian Hancock

Dear Mr. Hancock:
       If you are asking when to recognize members of the audience, ….. it should be done by a master of ceremonies before the keynote speaker is introduced and invited to the podium.
And the keynote speaker (an anyone else who gets the mike) should be instructed not to re-acknowledge the distinguished guests again. It distracts from their message, is not necessary, and irritates everyone in the audience!
The top guest is acknowledged first, then go down the list in precedence order.
If you can get hold of a copy of my book I provide the correct phrasing to use for introducing by name every type of official you mention. Just look up the “office” in the index and I include the form right after how to write their place cards.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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We have an upcoming event next week at which both of our current U. S. Senators will be speaking as will one of our former U. S. Senators, a long-serving senator who retired last year.  What is the proper way to differentiate between the current senators and retired senator in the printed program that will be made available to those attending that day?  Is the situation different if a senator or member of congress is defeated in an election instead of retiring?
This event, sponsored by the University, will be held at our local Air Force Base, so we have political, military, and academic protocol issues coming together at one event.  We want to get things right.
— North Dakota Chairman

Dear Dear Mr. Chairman:
The forms of address for current and retired senators is the same … so in the program you should differentiate between them with a modifying statement after their name:

The Honorable Full Name
Senator for North Dakota

The Honorable Full Name
Senator for North Dakota, 1990-2006

Precedence of current senators is the one elected first is first.  Precedence of a former is with, but after any current.
Former senators …. retired or defeated … continue to use the same forms of address. Exception is a senator who was removed from office: he or she would no longer be addressed as The Honorable.
I cover all this in my book if this sort of thing comes up often.
Just in case you haven’t, that local Air Force Base you mention has a Protocol Officer with whom you should be coordinating all this.
I don’t know who is the current head of protocol at Ellsworth AFB, but plenty of USAF Protocol Officers are grads of The Protocol School of Washington, so it’s likely they use my book.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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A protocol question about the wedding of William and Catherine. In the photos of the British Royals entering Westminster Abbey — Prince Charles had Camilla on his left, but the Prince Philip had the Queen on his right. 
Why is there a difference?
        — Ivan Franceus

Dear Ivan:
First consider let’s mention “right’ and “left in photos: when you are in the picture what is“on your right” is “on the left” as we view the photo.

The place of honor is on the left as you look at a photographed couple. Think of bridal photos you have seen, Typically men escort women on their right … in the place of honor.  So when you look at the photo the man is on the RIGHT.   So in a photo the person on the LEFT of the photo is in the place of honor.

But in royalty there is precedence to consider.

         * Charles outranks Camilla, so he is in the #1 spot, she is in the #2 spot. Charles is on the left, Camilla on the right. That puts Charles on Camilla’s right and Camilla on Charles’s left. That reflects the correct precedence of their personal ranks

         * The Queen outranks Prince Phillip, so she is in the #1 spot and he in the #2.

Look at this next photo down where the  Queen is with a gentleman: Why is the Queen in the #2 spot?  The Queen as host of the President of the French Republic in the UK. She has placed him on her right … since he is the guest of honor.

        Look at this next photo: The Queen is back in the #1 spot?  Here, Her Majesty is the guest of the President of the United States in Washington, DC … The President has placed her on his right since Her Majesty is his guest of honor.

And another interesting example:

After the wedding the Queen placed herself in the center, put Kate’s mother on her right(her place of honor) and Camilla on her left (a lesser spot) to honor Kate’s mother AT THAT MOMENT. 

Putting Kate’s mother in an honored position (higher than Camilla who technically has higher precedence) was not in precedence order based on their titles, but it reflected the Queen’s view of the situational application of precedence of the moment.

And it was a lovely gesture and shows what a pro the Queen clearly is.

         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info


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Just a quick question in regards to military order of precedence, I understand that the retired officer follows the active duty officer of the same rank, but for introductions for a retirement ceremony script, does a Major General (ret) get introduced first or after the active duty Colonels?
— Michael S., USAF

Dear Steven:
Introductions are done in precedence order and I include a copy of the US precedence list in my book’s chapter on “Precedence” for just this sort of query.
The way the precedence list is worded is: VIP Code 5, #43, Two-star military: Major general, rear admiral, by seniority. Retired officers by rank with, but after active officers.
Colonels and captains are VIP Code 7, #47 …. so they come after all those in #43.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Do you know if the First Lady carries a DV Code?  If so, where can I find this in print?  I tried to Google this information and of course I was directed to your book “Honor & Respect” which I will be purchasing today.
— Steven @ The Pentagon

Dear Steven:
The First Lady [spouse of the POTUS] does not have a DV Code since she does not appear on any precedence list.
However she is accorded the courtesies due her spouse … especially when she is there as First Lady & representative of The President. She get’s the courtesies of the POTUS even when she is mixed with office-holders who are actually on the precedence list.
So, while she does not have a Distinguished Visitor Code (DV Code) …. give her a very good seat!
This is typical for spouses who have a significant hostess functionality in the social aspects of some very high offices such as president, governor, or president of a university.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What is the proper way to address two married members of the military when one is active duty and one is retired and they are the same rank on official correspondence? I couldn’ find the answer on your site.
— Tish

Dear Tish:
The rule of precedence is that personnel are grouped by rank … and active is before retired.
The way it’s phrased on the precedence list I include in my book (page 127) is for, say O-8’s:
VIP CODE 5
43.    Two-star military: Major general, rear admirals, by seniority.
Retired officers by rank by after active duty officers

I don’t try and answer everything on the site …. I have a chapter in my book on precedence and joint forms of address if this sort of thing comes up often.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am an elected City Council person (non partisan). The sitting Governor of our state made a campaign stop to our town it was announced to the members of Council via e-mail three days in advance by the Assistant to the City Manager. I was the only elected city official that attended the event. I made a comment during the following City Council meeting about what an honor it was to have him visit our town. I am now being chastised for attending the event and have been told that I should not have attended as a representative of the city. I would do this for any elected official from the State or a National office.
Will you please enlighten me to what is proper here?
— The Honorable in Area Code 281

Dear THIAC281,
I surmise your colleagues judge the Governor’s visit to have been a partisan political event and not an official civic event.
*** The Governor making a stop in support of his re-election as a partisan candidate.
vs.
*** The Governor making an official speech at the town high school or opening a new state-paid-for bridge.
So, maybe your colleagues judge that you … as a non-partisan official attending a partisan event … have compromised your appearance of being non-partisan status and by association their non-partisan status?
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Robert,
I am in receipt of your response and I thank you for the speedy reply.  I am still not sure if I violated any rules of proper protocol when a higher-ranking elected official comes to town. Although I do not agree with certain elected government officials at all levels, I would think it proper to pay respect the the position one holds as a representative of the local people. Do I understand you to say that this is improper?
— The Honorable in Area Code 281

Dear THIAC281,
Unless there is a written rule that forbids council members to attend political events … you did nothing indisputably wrong or illegal.
It’s probably not the greeting of a high-ranking official that’s the issue … it’s the context in which that greeting took place.
There are lots of examples of officials … elected and appointed … choosing to attend … or choosing not to attend specific events to assure or avoid the appearance of endorsement.
It seems that your peers judge your public attendance at a partisan event to signal your endorsement of the Governor’s re-election.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

Robert,
Thank you Robert I appreciate you and your desire to enlighten people to what is proper. May God bless you and your efforts.
— The Honorable in Area Code 281

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I have a question for you and hope you might know the answer.
One of our senior leaders is retiring and he originally requested to have all 50 state flags on the stage.  Regrettably, the stage will be “dwarfed” by that request so I made a suggestion that we include the National Ensign, appropriate service flags, and the state flags where he grew up, attended medical school and was stationed throughout his career.  My thought was to put them in the appropriate order and personalize them to him but not severely limit available space on the stage.
Of course, after I suggested that idea, I panicked and wondered if it was allowed to have a grouping of state flags present without having all 50 flags present.  We have looked in our books, Army Regs, Navy Regs, the U.S. Code and cannot find any reference where it stipulates that you must have all 50 flags as a group or just the current state EXCEPT in my PSOW guide from class.
He is returning on Monday to look at the auditorium and he may press for all 50 flags but, if not, I’m hoping that this option is acceptable.
Would it be possible for you to point me in the right direction with regard to whether I can do a small breakout of state flags or not?
Thank you, in advance,
— Ginny, Bethesda, Maryland

Dear Ginny:
It is O.K. to to use fewer than all 50 state flags … if you are displaying a specific selection of state flags for a special purpose. Put the selection in precedence order just as you suggest.
The rule about needing all 50 deals with when you are displaying flags to represent the Union … then you need all 50 … OR just fly the US flag alone.
You should not put up a display to represent the Union and have, say, just 43 of the 50. Someone will notice!.

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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When in a speech to thank individuals for attending, what is political protocol as to who gets named first: a State Senator  or a Mayor?
— Claudia in New Jersey

Dear Claudia:
I need some more information to reply:
Of what city is the Mayor the mayor?
Of what is district is the Senator the senator of the district?
And .. where is the event?
Their relative ranking will depend on the location of the event ….
The Mayor of Moorestown, NJ has the highest precedence any official / would be named first … even the Senator from that district …. when he’s in Moorestown.
The State Senator would be higher in Trenton …. when the Mayor is  out of his jurisdiction.

— Robert Hickey

It would be Mayor of Hamilton Township, NJ and Senator of the 14th District which included Hamilton Township.
The speech will be in Hamilton Township, NJ
So are you saying:  The Mayor of Hamilton Township, NJ should be named first prior to Senator Goodwin since this speech is in Hamilton Township?
— Claudia in New Jersey

Dear Claudia:
The person who is most closely ‘in his domain’ has higher precedence.
* If the event is in Hamilton Township, and Hamilton Township is in the 14th District … the Mayor of Hamilton Township in Hamilton Township is the higher …. and then the Senator is lower.
A man is king of his castle …. and the mayor is king of his town when in his town.
So the name order is the mayor and then the senator.
* If the event were in the 14th District … but not in Hamilton township … then the Senator have the higher precedence … because the Mayor is out of his domain … but the Senator would still be in his.
Interestingly even the if the guest is the The President of the United States in Hamilton Township … the Mayor of Hamilton Township is higher in Hamilton Township.
Of course seating might be different  … or the order in which officials would actually speak. Often seats of honor (the best seats) are given by a lower official to his distinguished guests (higher officials). And when officials speak … the most important speaks last.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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