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Archive for the ‘Titles & Forms of Address’ Category

How do I address a retired American Ambassador?  He was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service so he was a diplomat for a long time before he was an ambassador.
           — Carol Bentley

How do I address someone who served as an American Ambassador?  He was a close personal friend of The President and served for four years.
           — Keith Inge

Dear Ms. Bentley & Mr. Inge:
Any retired or former ambassador is addressed on the envelope, or in the address block of the letter, in the standard style used for addressing high US officials:
 The Honorable (Full name)
(Address)

And, in the salutation or conversation he/she would be addressed as:
   Dear Ambassador (Surname),
     The difference between ambassadors will arise when you introduce them, describe them, give their title, or identify them in writing.

How to identify a political appointee who served as a Ambassador?
Those appointed to serve as a U.S. ambassador after a career in another field (typically they serve just one administration, more or less) are introduced as:
            Ambassador of the United States to (Name of Country) from Year to Year
or
            Former Ambassador of the United States to (Name of Country)

Who can be identified as a “Career Ambassador, Retired”?
There are certain individuals who can be identified as a Career Ambassador.   They have been accorded the “Personal Rank of Career Ambassador” by the President. If you do a web search for “career-ambassador U.S. Department of State” you find the list. There aren’t many. This small category of ambassadors is introduced or identified as:
          Career Ambassador of the Foreign Service of the United States of America, Retired

Who can be identified as a “Ambassador, Retired”?
Career U.S. Foreign Service Officers who have served as a U.S. Ambassador at one or more U.S. embassies are introduced or identified as:
          Ambassador of the United States of America, Retired

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WASHINGTON, July 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

When Bill Clinton first won the presidency, the form of address used for him and the first lady, Hillary, was as follows:
     The President and Mrs. Clinton

This form of address fits into the traditional formula in writing: The President and Mrs. (Surname) and in conversation: 
Mr./Madam President and Mr./Mrs. (Surname).

If Hillary Clinton wins the current presidential election, Bill Clinton will be a first: the first First Husband, Spouse, Partner, or Significant Other.

So, how will the White House staff address Bill Clinton? How will his name appear with the President’s on invitations?  How will his place card read at a state dinner? How should the media address him or refer to him?  Perhaps First Gentleman Bill Clinton, awkward as that might seem? According to Robert Hickey, author of The Protocol School of Washington’s Honor and Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles and Forms of Address, the formula for the husband of President of the United States (POTUS) has been around for a long time. It just hasn’t been used thus far:

In writing: The President and Mr. (Full Name)

As a former elected official, Bill Clinton does have a special title. He is “the Honorable.” Using this courtesy title fits right in without a hitch.

In writing: The President and the Honorable (Full Name)

However, which version of Bill Clinton’s full name would be correct?  That is a matter of how formal a reporter or social secretary chooses to be for any given occasion. Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton, or William Jefferson Clinton might be frequent choices.

Still, two questions linger:

1. How should he be addressed in direct conversation or as a salutation?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton

2. How should reporters refer to him in order to not mislead or confuse their audience on who is the current president and who is not?
 a.  Mr. Clinton
b.  President Clinton
c.  Former President Clinton

According to Hickey, the right option for both questions would be  a. Mr. Clinton.

“While it is common practice in the media and elsewhere to address and identify former presidents as ‘President (Name),’ this is a mistake,” said Hickey. “Serving as President of the United States does not grant one the personal rank of ‘President’ for life. The office of President is a one-person-at-a-time role that a specific individual holds and then hands off to the next person.”

“Courtesies, honors, and special forms of address are symbols of the power of the office. They belong to the office and to the citizens, not former office holders.”

Hickey goes on to say the media and the public should be wary of identifying or addressing previous holders of the presidency and other unique offices by referring to them as “former (title).” This qualifier diminishes the singular prestige of both the office and its current occupant and is potentially misleading/confusing to their audience.

“There is an accepted term of respect used for previous presidents and other elected U.S. officials to recognize their service. This title is one of high distinction that they keep for life: she or he is addressed as “the Honorable (Full Name).”

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Frequently I hear TV journalists address clergymen as ‘Reverend Smith” or simply as ‘Reverend’.  I think these are incorrect.  Am I wrong?
       — BH in Maryland

Dear BH,
Here’s what the standard in formal communications.  In writing use:
  The Reverend (Full Name)
  The Reverend Bennett Smith
      The conversational form (and what you use in a salutation) is:
 Pastor/Father/Dr./etc. (Surname)
  Pastor Smith | Father Smith | Dr. Smith | etc.
      Since not all communication is formal. If you are on the equivalent of being on a first-name basis.– the familiar, informal, version is often:
 Pastor/Father/Dr. (Given name)
    Pastor Bennett | Father Bennett | Dr. Bennett | etc.
What about Rev. (Name)?
“Rev.” is a shorthand version of “The Reverend”.  And indeed Rev. (Name) is the preference of some, but not all, clergy. Therefore use it when you know it is their preference.  If you don’t know their preference – ask.  Asking is always appropriate.
When Rev. is the preference rather than Pastor/Father/Dr./etc., use Rev. conversation and in a salutation. But in writing use the standard formal form – the Reverend (Full Name).
— Robert Hickey 

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How do you address a former pope of the Roman Catholic Church? I bet you never considered that!
          — B. E. in Georgia

Dear B.E.,
It’s less that I have not considered it, than the Roman Catholic Church didn’t have a formal style for how to address a retired pope in it’s modern literature.
I don’t define how anyone is addressed … I just keep track of how current organizations address their current and former officials – so those of us outside their domain can address them correctly.
Now they’ve established there can be a former office holder.
Some would have guessed that Pope Benedict would return to the form of address to which he was entitled before assuming office — cardinal. There are already retired former office holders at that level. Having a retired cardinal addressed in the same way as current cardinals presents no confusion, since being a cardinal is not a singular (only-one-office-holder-at-a-time) position.

* For example, when Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated the throne to her son Willem-Alexander in 2013, she returned to the form of address to which she was entitled prior to taking office: Princess.

However, In the UK, “Queen Elizabeth” – the Queen Mother (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, the present British sovereign, and the widow of King George VI) continued to be addressed as Your Majesty when her daughter assumed the throne without much mishap.

These situations are, of course, a bit different, but they are modern examples of how other hierarchies dealt with titles of office holders.
       — Robert Hickey 

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How does one address the envelope of an invitation to the mayor of a city and his wife?
 — Susan Hensley

I need to address our elected sheriff and his wife. On the envelope, would it be The Honorable and Mrs. James Smith?
 — Agnes Harrington

How do I address a governor and his wife?
 — J.K. in Virginia

How do I address a former senator and his wife?
 — Ann Buchanan

Dear S.H, A.H., J.K., and AB:
I cover how to every type of elected official and spouse in my book in Chapter Nine: Joint Forms of Address.

What all these U.S. officials have in common is that they are addressed as “The Honorable.” You didn’t tell me the names … so depending the form of her name … there are several options.

If she uses “Mrs.”  and uses the same last name … then traditionally her first name does not appear:
The Honorable William Stanton
and Mrs. Stanton
(Address)

This is the form the White House would use for a married couple using the same last name. The rule is not to break up “The Honorable” from “(name)”
What you want to avoid is:
The Honorable and Mrs. William Stanton
(Address)

If she uses a different last name, then her first name does appear, e.g.:
The Honorable Alan Greenspan
and Ms. Andrea Mitchell
(Address)

If she has her own rank, courtesy title, or some special honorific, then her first name does appear:
The Honorable William Stanton
and Lieutenant Linda Stanton
(Address)

The Honorable William Stanton
and Dr. Linda Stanton
(Address)

The Honorable William Stanton
and the Reverend Linda Stanton
(Address)
Probably more answer than you wanted … but I hope it is useful.
 — Robert Hickey

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Daughters of a deceased United States Air Force Colonel have asked for my help for the wording on a headstone/gravestone. I am thinking of:.

 Col. John Patrick Delaney
USAF, Retired

— Betty

I want to purchase a paver (a personalized brick) in a local veterans memorial for my grandfather.  He retired from the United States Army as a CW4.  His name is Harold E Copper,  I have 3 lines,  with 14 spaces per line.  Any ideas?
— JB

Dear Betty & JB:
    Deceased persons are referred to by just their NAME … honorifics, ranks, courtesy titles, and post-nominal abbreviations which are parts of a person’s name at various times during their lives —  are not included as part of the names of the deceased. Roles and ranks they had are listed afterwards.
     Military tombstones in military cemeteries are just NAME followed by rank and branch of service.
     “Retired” is not included. It was pertinent when the person was living and necessary to note that the person was not on active duty. Typically punctuation is not used on memorials, so I’ve shown the ones below without punctuation. So, in a correct style it would be:

John Patrick Delaney
Colonel USAF

Or:

Harold E Copper
CW4 USA

     See the photos below.
          Robert Hickey

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How do you address in writing a former state senator?
          — RW in Florida

Dear RW,
A U.S. state senator is addressed as “the Honorable” — once one is “the Honorable” one is “the Honorable” for life.  Retired senators, since they are not one-officeholder-at-a-time officials continue to be addressed as “Senator (Name)”.
But, you say former state senator.
If you are addressing a letter relating to his/her public service, or it is social correspondence (a letter to a neighbor, a holiday note, or get-well card) — address the envelope and use in the letter’s envelope and address block  The Honorable (Full Name).  Use Senator (Surname) in the salutation.
If you are writing to someone who served as a state senator, but is now working in some commercial/professional role —  e.g., they are now your insurance agent, attorney, or stock broker — and you are writing to them in the context of this commercial/professional endeavor — address him/her as Mr./Ms./Dr./etc. (Name).  
In the U.S.A. we address people as pertinent to the situation. Each of us has many names and each is correct in a specific time and place. E.g., a woman named “Ann Robinson” might be addressed as “Mrs. Robinson”, “Ann”, “Mom” or “Sweetheart”.  Each name is how she is addressed in a certain situation. How she is addressed relates to (1) who is addressing her and (2) in which role she is being addressed.
Robert Hickey

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In an age when it is the ideas that are important, why are office holders so dogged in demanding reverence? Why do office holders require others to use titles to address them?  We are all equals. Doesn’t insisting on being addressed in a fancy way indicate an inferiority complex rather than confidence?
     — BB

Dear BB,

Since the Stone Age, man has addressed those with specific roles by title.  This lets everyone know who is who in the hierarchy. And, there is always hierarchy in a room when there is a group of people.

Much of what you find so irritating is a person’s craving to hold onto status and privilege. We all find this to be unbearable when we observe it in others.

When we notice this behavior, it’s wise to remember that in democracies, the power of public office does not belong to the occupants — but to the citizens: a current office holder wields the power of the people. Thus, respecting the office — and the current office holder — respects the people. Whenever you show respect to someone you show respect to yourself.

When I was a teenager my Dad gave some advice to me that still resonates today, I was frustrated with some completely unreasonable dictum handed down by my Mother. He calmly said “Robert, you don’t say those words in that tone of voice to your Mother. You may disagree with what your Mother says, but you owe her your respect because she is your Mother.”

Our presidents, prime ministers, premiers, mayors, police officers, even our bosses, fall into this category deserving some deference simply due to their office.

So, while we may personally disagree with a judge, we behave appropriately in his or her courtroom thus respecting the rule of law. That’s why they call misbehaving in court “contempt of court’ not “contempt of the judge.”

Sometimes we do encounter an official who is demanding special treatment. Just remember that this current-office-holder unlike our “Dad” or “Mom” is just temporarily in the role. His or her successor may be more down to earth and to our liking!

        — Robert Hickey

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How should I address/write my former Pastor’s name on an envelope?  Is he the Reverend (Full Name), Emeritus Pastor? Or is it Pastor Emeritus?
         — C.F.

Dear C.F.,
The form would be Pastor Emeritus.
  1) Emeritus implies a continuing relationship with an organization. So, you would not be the one granting the title of pastor emeritus. If he is the Pastor Emeritus a congregation, the congregation would create that title for him.
   2) Are you writing him as your “pastor” or as “pastor emeritus of a congregation”? You don’t need to designate him as pastor emeritus if you are writing to him as your pastor: he can be your pastor forever. So (perhaps) the emeritus is not pertinent in personal communication?
    — Robert Hickey     http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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May I please ask how I should address a princess of Poland?
     — CarolineDear Caroline,
I only cover official forms of address. Since the monarchy & ranks of nobility in Poland were officially abolished, there are no longer official forms of address for those who held Polish noble titles. In contrast, a British Duke receives the courtesies of his rank (precedence and forms of address are courtesies of rank). But a duke of Poland is now, formally, a private citizen — and has no official precedence or official form of address.
But all that said, for a person whose ancestors held a noble title, the title is a issue of great personal pride and family honor. To find out the form of address he or she prefers in social situations, you need to do a bit a research. E.g., Princes of principalities are His/Her Serene Highness. So that might be her preference. Or, she might consider herself a member of a king/queen’s royal family and want to be addressed as His/Her Royal Highness.  I heard of a Polish princess who wanted to be addressed as Her Imperial Highness which didn’t make much sense to me, but who would I be to argue? Some of the Italian princes and princesses want to be socially addressed directly as Prince/Princess (Name). This is not how one would address a British Prince … but it must work for the Italians.
— Robert Hickey
 http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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