Envoys pay tribute to FCO official

The Departing Deputy Director of Protocol at the Foreign Office, Francesca Flessati, has been recognised with a lifetime achievement award.

The deputy chief of protocol, who has served in the Foreign Office for 29 years and is stepping down from her current role, was recognised at the Diplomat of the Year Awards for her outstanding contribution to diplomacy.

For the past seven years Ms Flessati served as a key liaison between the FCO and the 22,000-strong diplomatic community, one of the largest bilateral posts in the world.

She was part of the team that coordinated major events hosted by the UK, notably the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, where 53 world leaders met in London, the largest summit ever staged in Britain.

Ms Flessati’s extensive experience in consular crisis response and security liaison proved invaluable in coordinating a response to serious incidents, such as the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.

Ms Flessati was awarded with an OBE in 2003 for her work for helping to bring to justice terrorists from November 17 group who assassinated the British military attaché in Athens Stephen Saunders in June 2000. Then, as the Head of the Political and Public Affairs Section at the British Embassy in Athens (1999-03), she worked tirelessly with Greek authorities, Scotland Yard anti-terrorism officers and the media to keep the case in the public eye. After the assailants were successfully tried in 2003, she stayed on in Athens through the 2004 Olympic Games, having responsibility for UK counter-terrorism and security co-operation with the Greek government for the event.

After the tragic 2004 South-Asian Tsunami, Ms Flessati was attached to the Secretariat General of Interpol in Lyon, with a team developing international crisis response capability.  From 2006-07, she worked with the Caribbean governments, hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup, on international security and contingency arrangements.

In 2008, she was appointed Head of the International Liaison Unit for London 2012 Olympics  Safety and Security, in the Metropolitan Police Service, after which she was appointed Deputy Director of Protocol at the FCO.

New Deputy Director of Protocol
Ms Flessati’s successor, Abigail Boyle, took up her post as Deputy Director of Protocol and Assistant Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps in March. She joined the Foreign and Commonwealth in 2003, and her first posting was to the British Embassy in Baghdad in 2005. In 2008, she was posted to the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand, Afghanistan and was then seconded to the US State Department. From 2012-13 Ms Boyle was Head of Post in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo after which she headed up the Yemen team at the FCO.

Diplomat of the Year Awards

Middle East & North Africa
His Excellency Mr Sulaiman Almazroui, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates

HE Ms Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner for Rwanda

Asia & Oceania
His Excellency Mr Said T. Jawad, Ambassador of Afghanistan

Eurasia & the Western Balkans
HE Mr Erlan Idrissov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan

HE Mrs Päivi Luostarinen, Ambassador of Finland

North America & the Caribbean
HE Mrs Teresita de Jesús Vicente Sotolongo, Ambassador of Cuba

Central & South America
HE Mr Fernando López Fabregat, Ambassador of Uruguay

Outstanding Contribution to Economic Diplomacy
International Business and Diplomatic Exchange

Young Diplomat of the Year
Wilfred T. Adderley II, Second Secretary & Vice Consul, Bahamas High Commission

Exceptional Contribution to Diplomacy
Francesca Flessati OBE, Deputy Director of Protocol (FCO) and Assistant Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps

Photo: Award-winning Departing Deputy Director of Protocol at the Foreign Office, Francesca Flessati pictured here with Embassy News Editor Elizabeth Stewart and former Director of Protocol Julian Evans