Pekka Huhtaniemi, Ambassador of Finland to the Court of St. James’s, presented his Letters of Credence to Her Majesty The Queen following ceremonious traditions. The journey towards Buckingham Palace started from outside the Embassy in Belgravia, Central London, where the Royal horse-drawn carriages came with Her Majesty’s Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps to collect the Ambassador and his wife Liisa and their party.
When an ambassador begins his new posting, he presents Letters of Credence to the head of the receiving state in order to be able to officially represent his country. In these letters, written in traditional fashion and signed by the President of Finland, it is assured that the new ambassador will develop the bilateral relations of the two countries to the best of his abilities.
For Ambassador Huhtaniemi and his retinue, the festive ceremony started around noon on October 12. The ambassadorial couple was accompanied to Buckingham Palace by colleagues Minister Tanja Jääskeläinen, Deputy Head of Mission, Colonel Esa Salminen, Press Counsellor Jouni Mölsä and First Secretary Keijo Karjalainen.
The manner in which the retinue was received by HM The Queen followed strict and well rehearsed protocol. After a bilateral meeting between Queen Elizabeth II and the Ambassador, the rest of the party was introduced to The Queen one at a time.
In addition to presenting the credentials, the other important purpose of the ceremony is to introduce The Queen and the Ambassador to one another. “My conversation with Her Majesty was effortless and convivial”, Mr Huhtaniemi reveals. “I am sure the day is extraordinary for every ambassador.”
According to the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps at least twenty similar functions take place in Buckingham Palace every year. No more than two ambassadors are received in audience during the same day as The Queen wants enough time to get to know everyone personally.
Liisa Huhtaniemi admitted that the ceremonious settings made her a little more nervous than usual, even though every step and curtsy had been rehearsed beforehand. “You can’t go meet The Queen without your legs shaking a little bit, can you?” she laughs.
Texy by Tiina Heinilä, Embassy of Finland
Photos by Erkki Ojansivu/Pirjo Pellinen/Tiina Heinilä, Embassy of Finland
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