The Marshall

The Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps Alistair Harrison reflects on a busy end to 2015 and the very sad passing of a respected member of the diplomatic corps.

As we approach the festive season, the thoughts of London’s diplomatic community are with the family of our Liberian Colleague Rudolf Von Ballmoos who died suddenly last week.

He was a major figure in London because, apart from serving as Liberia’s Ambassador for the last two years, he had previously served no less than thirteen years as a diplomat here during some of Liberia’s darkest hours. As he himself put it, he kept the light shining.

More recently his voice was regularly heard on the radio and elsewhere during the Ebola crisis that afflicted his country and region. I last saw him and Angie during the Diplomatic Reception earlier this month and I share the shock and sorrow that we all feel. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Angie and to the rest of their family. May he rest in peace.

December is always a busy month, and it seems this year to have been busier than ever (although that may be my imagination approaching the end of just my second year in the job).

I know that everyone enjoyed the Diplomatic Reception on 8 December. The following day The Queen received the last two Heads of Mission who were able to present credentials during 2015 (our new colleagues from the Netherlands and Gabon) and there will be a break until Her Majesty returns from Sandringham in early February.

The Queen’s diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace is the highlight of the festive season

Congratulations to the new Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, who was chosen by the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth at the Summit in Valletta. Her appointment is of great interest to the 53 Members of the Commonwealth but also more widely to those States who aspire to become members, or who co-operate with the Commonwealth in other ways.

Sarah and I and our children wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season. I know that many of you will be travelling home or elsewhere during the next few weeks, but I also wish a very happy time to those like us who will spend time in London, or elsewhere in the United Kingdom.