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Nigel Baker

Ambassador to the Holy See (2011-2016)

Part of FCDO Outreach

23rd April 2011

Tradition and Modernity

It seems that even here in Bolivia there is Royal Wedding fever. I have given a number of interviews recently to television and other media. And there is intense interest in our competition to find a Bolivian couple who are also getting married on 29 April to join us at the Residence to celebrate their day in style. I shall certainly be up at 5am on the day to watch proceedings live on the BBC.

The Royal CoupleThe British monarchy is all about tradition, continuity, and the evolution of British democracy over many hundreds of years. But the Royal Wedding is also about modern Britain. The estimated two billion spectators across the world will see that Britain is one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse nations in the world, home to 270 nationalities speaking 300 different languages, founded on tolerance and respect for difference. Britain is a global hub for travel and commerce: the 5,000 international journalists in London covering the event will be amongst the 56 million international passengers handled every year by Heathrow airport, the 30 million tourists who visit the country each year, and the 400,000 young people in Britain every year to study and learn new skills.

Viewers of the Royal Wedding will also have a glimpse of why Britain is one of the most dynamic, creative and connected countries in the world today. The television on which most will watch the event was invented by a Briton (John Logie Baird) and the World Wide Web that will broadcast to millions more by another (Tim Berners-Lee). The guest list will include leaders from Britain’s world-beating science, fashion, film and music communities.

The Royal Wedding heralds a spectacular period ahead for modern and traditional Britain. In 2012 The Queen – the principal guest – will celebrate 60 years on the throne. Next year will also see London hosting the Olympic Games. As Prince William and Catherine Middleton embark on a new life together, they will be surrounded by the majesty and pageantry of Royal tradition. But as a 21st century couple, they also represent Britain’s dynamic and exciting future. It will be a great event!

About Nigel Baker

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as…

Nigel was British Ambassador to the Holy See from 2011-2016. He presented his Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 9 September 2011, after serving 8 years in Latin America, as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy in Havana, Cuba (2003-6) and then as British Ambassador in La Paz, Bolivia (2007-11). In July 2016, Nigel finished his posting, and is currently back in London.

As the first British Ambassador to the Holy See ever to have a blog, Nigel provided a regular window on what the Embassy and the Ambassador does. The blogs covered a wide range of issues, from Royal and Ministerial visits to Diplomacy and Faith, freedom of religion, human trafficking and climate change.

More on Nigel’s career

Nigel was based in London between 1998 and 2003. He spent two years on European Union issues (for the UK 1998 EU Presidency and on European Security and Defence questions), before crossing St James’s Park to work for three years as The Assistant Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. At St James’s Palace, Nigel worked on international issues, including the management of The Prince of Wales’s overseas visits and tours, on the Commonwealth, interfaith issues, the arts and international development.

Nigel spent much of the early part of his FCO career in Central Europe, after an initial stint as Desk Officer for the Maghreb countries in the Near East and North Africa department (1990-91). Between 1992 and 1996, Nigel served in the British embassies in Prague and Bratislava, the latter being created in 1993 after the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics.

Nigel joined the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) in September 1989. Between 1996 and 1998 he took a two year academic sabbatical to research and write about themes in 18th century European history, being based in Verona but also researching in Cambridge, Paris and Naples. The research followed from Nigel’s time as a student at Cambridge (1985-88) where he read history and was awarded a First Class Honours degree, followed by his MA in 1992.

Before joining the Foreign Office, Nigel worked briefly for the Conservative Research Department in London at the time of the 1989 European election campaign.

Nigel married Alexandra (Sasha) in 1997. They have one son, Benjamin, born in Bolivia in September 2008.

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