queen elizabeth

70th anniversary image via pixy.org

SAIS faculty David Ellwood illuminates lessons from the novel The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil.

So as not to miss any stitches in the fabric of international relations, leaders attach extra importance to what they wear during diplomatic talks, adhering to the unspoken rules of what is known as ‘fashion diplomacy'. [...] Would you be surprised, if I claimed that the dress the Queen was wearing during a State Banquet was more telling in terms of diplomacy than other political procedures? ​

Diplomacy is stitched into the royal wardrobe - detail is key. Embroidery, for example, has highlighted relationships between nations and regions. Her coronation dress boasted British and Commonwealth emblems. When the Queen visited Ireland in 2011, her robe for the state banquet at Dublin Castle was embellished with more than 2,000 hand-sewn shamrocks. Color is more than a shade. Its symbolism may govern options. 

Queen Elizabeth II, who turns 90 in April, carried out 306 engagements in Britain last year, a tally in The Times newspaper showed Friday. The queen, who became Britain’s longest serving monarch in September after more than 63 years, also conducted 35 engagements abroad, having paid state visits to Germany and Malta.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sent her first ever tweet during a visit to a museum Friday, signing it “Elizabeth R” - and even removing a glove to post it.  Another tweet on the same account shortly afterwards said that the previous one was “sent personally by The Queen”, adding its own hashtag for the event -- #TheQueenTweets.

In a sign of the warmth of relations between two countries with a troubled history, Ireland’s president, Michael D. Higgins, is to arrive here Monday for the first state visit to Britain by an Irish president.