After a year of high-octane diplomacy London’s diplomatic corps indulged in some festive cheer to celebrate the festive season
The real start of Christmas is the lighting of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, a gift from the people of Norway to Londoners since 1947 to thank Britain for its support during the Second World War. As the country to invent the first decorated Christmas tree in 1510, Latvia also donates a fir to Lancaster House, this year decorated with NATO stars, a nod to the meeting to commemorate the alliance’s 70th anniversary. NATO leaders also decorated the Downing Street tree, each hanging a bauble representing their country. Inside the Foreign Office, the Nordmann fir hails from Georgia, while the Danish Embassy donated a Christmas Tree to Shakespeare’s Globe.
When it comes to festive parties, the Queen’s reception for the diplomatic corps at Buckingham Palace is a highlight. Another cherished tradition is the gathering of diplomatic spouses at the Slovak Embassy to create their own advent wreathes. The Swedish Ambassador hosted St Lucia Day ceremonies in his residence, at the FCO and in churches around Britain, complete with carol singers wearing wreaths of candles on their heads. The Polish Embassy also hosted a typically Polish Christmas, complete with folk dance, carol singing, szopka (nativity cribs), bombki (decorated Polish baubles) and gourmet Christmas treats from the UK’s National Chef of the Year Kuba Winkowski.
Not to be outdone, the Finnish Ambassador brought over his ‘special envoy for festivities’ Santa Claus, all the way from Lapland, to visit the FCO and Finnish National Day celebrations. London’s diplomatic associations also took the opportunity to unwind, with DPAAL Christmas Drinks and the hotly-contested Embassy Protocol Club Festive Quiz.