Queen's Messenger

Last updated
British passport of the Queen's Messenger travelling on official business QueensMessengerpassport.jpg
British passport of the Queen's Messenger travelling on official business
Badges of King's or Queen's Messengers from 18th to 20th centuries, seen in an exhibition at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Silver Greys badges.jpg
Badges of King's or Queen's Messengers from 18th to 20th centuries, seen in an exhibition at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Corps of Queen's Messengers are couriers employed by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They hand-carry secret and important documents to British Embassies/High Commission and consulates around the world. Many Queen's Messengers were retired Army personnel. Messengers generally travel in plain clothes in business class on scheduled airlines with their consignment.

A courier is a company, an employee of that company or a person who delivers a message, package or letter from one place or person to another place or person.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office, or British Foreign Office, is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide and was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Contents

The safe passage of diplomatic baggage is guaranteed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and for reasons of state secrecy, the diplomatic bag does not go through normal airport baggage-checks and must not be opened, x-rayed, weighed, or otherwise investigated by customs, airline security staff, or anyone else for that matter. The bag is closed with a tamper-proof seal and has its own diplomatic passport. The Queen's Messenger has the status of a diplomatic courier and cannot be detained, however the messenger and the messenger's personal luggage go through normal security screening.

A diplomatic bag, also known as a diplomatic pouch, is a container with certain legal protections used for carrying official correspondence or other items between a diplomatic mission and its home government or other diplomatic, consular, or otherwise official entity. The physical concept of a "diplomatic bag" is flexible and therefore can take many forms.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations treaty

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country. This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. Its articles are considered a cornerstone of modern international relations. As of October 2018, it has been ratified by 192 states.

A diplomatic courier is an official who transports diplomatic bags as sanctioned under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Couriers are granted diplomatic immunity and are thereby protected by the receiving state from arrest and detention when performing their work. Couriers may be assigned on an ad hoc basis, but in those cases they are released from immunity once their bags have been delivered. All couriers are provided documentation that reports their status as couriers and the number of packages currently being transported in the diplomatic bag. Diplomatic bags may be transported under the authority of commercial airline captains, but they are not diplomatic couriers.

History

The first recorded King's Messenger was John Norman, who was appointed in 1485 by King Richard III to hand-deliver secret documents for his monarch. During his exile, Charles II appointed four trusted men to convey messages to Royalist forces in England. [1] As a sign of their authority, the King broke four silver greyhounds from a bowl familiar to royal courtiers, and gave one to each man. A silver greyhound thus became the symbol of the Service. [1] On formal occasions, the Queen's Messengers wear this badge from a ribbon, and on less formal occasions many messengers wear ties with a discreet greyhound pattern while working.

Richard III of England 15th-century King of England

Richard III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his death. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the protagonist of Richard III, one of William Shakespeare's history plays.

Charles II of England 17th-century King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.

Modern day

Queen's Messenger diesel locomotive seen at Bristol Temple Meads station in 2008 Hugh llewelyn 67 005 (5626830629).jpg
Queen's Messenger diesel locomotive seen at Bristol Temple Meads station in 2008

Modern communications have diminished the role of the Queen's Messengers, but as original documents still need to be conveyed between countries by "safe-hand", their function remains valuable, but declining.

In 1995 a Parliamentary question [2] put the number of Messengers then at 27. The number in March 2015 was sixteen full-time and two part-time, and the departmental headcount was nineteen. [3] In December 2015 an article in the Daily Express suggested that the Queen's Messenger service was "facing the chop by cost-cutting Foreign Office mandarins who see them as a legacy of a by-gone age". [4]

Prime Ministers Questions constitutional convention of the United Kingdom

Prime Minister's Questions is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the Prime Minister spends around half an hour answering questions from Members of Parliament (MPs).

<i>Daily Express</i> Daily middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom

The Daily Express is a daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom. It is the flagship of Express Newspapers, a subsidiary of Northern & Shell. It was first published as a broadsheet in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson. Its sister paper, the Sunday Express, was launched in 1918. In February 2019, it had an average daily circulation of 315,142.

The British Rail Class 67 diesel locomotive 67005 bears the name Queen's Messenger.

British Rail Class 67 class of 30 Bo′Bo′ diesel-electric locomotives

The Class 67 locomotives are a class of Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives which were built for the English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) between 1999 and 2000 by Alstom at Meinfesa in Valencia, Spain with drive components from General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.

See also

1947 BSAA Avro Lancastrian <i>Star Dust</i> accident 1947 plane crash

Star Dust was a British South American Airways (BSAA) Avro Lancastrian airliner which crashed into Mount Tupungato in the Argentine Andes on 2 August 1947, during a flight from Buenos Aires to Santiago, Chile. A comprehensive search of a wide area was fruitless, and the fate of the aircraft and its occupants remained unknown for over 50 years, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about its disappearance.

SS <i>Berlin</i> (1894) ship

SS Berlin was a steel ship, which was owned by the Great Eastern Railway and built for use on their ferry service from Harwich and the Hook of Holland, which the company had initiated in 1893.

Related Research Articles

Lost luggage

Lost luggage is luggage conveyed by a public carrier such as an airline, seafaring cruise ship, shipping company, or railway which fails to arrive at the correct destination with the passenger. In the United States, an average of 1 in 150 people have their checked baggage misdirected or left behind each year.

Baggage cases or container for storing travelers items

Baggage or luggage consists of bags, cases, and containers which hold a traveller's articles while the traveler is in transit.

Baggage handler

In the airline industry, a baggage handler is a person who loads and unloads baggage, and other cargo for transport via aircraft. With most airlines, the formal job title is "fleet service agent/clerk", though the position is commonly known amongst airline employees as a "ramp agent", due to the job's location on the airport ramp (tarmac).

Messenger bag bag or pouch with a long strap, designed to wear slung from one shoulder and across the body

A messenger bag is a type of sack, usually made of cloth. It is worn over one shoulder with a strap that goes across the chest resting the bag on the lower back. While messenger bags are sometimes used by couriers, they are now also an urban fashion icon. Some types of messenger bags are called carryalls. A smaller version is often called a sling bag.

Hand luggage luggage small enough to be carried in the passenger compartment of a vehicle

The term hand luggage or cabin baggage refers to the type of luggage that passengers are allowed to carry along in the passenger compartment of a vehicle instead of moving to the cargo compartment. Passengers are allowed to carry a limited number of smaller bags with them in the vehicle and contain valuables and items needed during the journey. There is normally storage space provided for hand luggage, either under seating, or in overhead lockers. Trains usually have luggage racks above the seats and may also have luggage space between the backs of seats facing opposite directions, or in extra luggage racks, for example, at the ends of the carriage near the doors.

British passport passport issued to British people

British passports are passports issued by the United Kingdom to those holding any form of British nationality. There are different types of British nationality, and different types of British passports as a result. A British passport enables the bearer to travel worldwide and serves as proof of citizenship. Every British citizen is also a citizen of the European Union. The passport allows for freedom of movement in any of the states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. It also facilitates access to consular assistance from British embassies around the world, or any embassy of another European Union member state until the United Kingdom departs the European Union in October 2019. Passports are issued using royal prerogative, which is exercised by Her Majesty's Government.

Bag tag

Bag tags, also known as baggage tags, baggage checks or luggage tickets, have traditionally been used by bus, train, and airline carriers to route checked luggage to its final destination. The passenger stub is typically handed to the passenger or attached to the ticket envelope:

HM Passport Office passport division of the U.K. Home Office

Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) is a division of the Home Office in the United Kingdom. It provides passports for British nationals worldwide and was formed on 1 April 2006 as the Identity and Passport Service, although the Passport Office had also been its previous name.

Indian passport passport

An Indian passport is issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to Indian citizens for the purpose of international travel. It enables the bearer to travel internationally and serves as proof of Indian citizenship as per the Passports Act (1967). The Passport Seva unit of the Consular, Passport & Visa (CPV) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs functions as the central passport organisation, and is responsible for issuing Indian passports on demand to all eligible Indian citizens. Indian passports are issued at 93 passport offices located across India and at 162 Indian diplomatic missions abroad.

Chinese passport passport

The People's Republic of China passport, commonly referred to as the Chinese passport, is the passport issued to nationals of the People's Republic of China (PRC) who have registered as a resident of Mainland China hence hold a hukou, for the purpose of the international travel and entitles the bearer to the protection of China's consular officials overseas.

Airport check-in service counters found at commercial airports

Airport check-in is the process whereby passengers are accepted by an airline at the airport prior to travel. The airlines typically use service counters found at airports. The check-in is normally handled by an airline itself or a handling agent working on behalf of an airline. Passengers usually hand over any baggage that they do not wish or are not allowed to carry in to the aircraft's cabin and receive a boarding pass before they can proceed to board their aircraft.

Thai passport passport

The Thai passport is the passport issued to citizens and nationals of Thailand by the Passport Division of the Department of Consular Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thai biometric passports have been issued since August 2005.

Mexican passport passport

Mexican passports are issued to Mexican citizens for the purpose of travelling abroad. The Mexican passport is also an official ID and proof of Mexican citizenship. According to the 2018 Visa Restrictions Index, holders of a Mexican passport can visit 158 countries without a visa, placing Mexico in the 21st rank in terms of global travel freedom.

Baggage allowance

On the commercial transportation, mostly with airlines, the baggage allowance is the amount of checked baggage or hand/carry-on luggage the company will allow per passenger. There may be limits on the amount that is allowed free of charge, and hard limits on the amount that is allowed.

Nepalese passport passport

Nepalese passports are issued to the citizens of Nepal for international travel.

Barbados passport passport

A Barbados passport is a travel document issued to citizens of Barbados, in accordance with Citizenship Act from 1978, the Immigration Act from 1997, and the Barbados Constitution, for the purpose of facilitating international travel. It allows the bearer to travel in foreign countries and the Commonwealth of Nations, in accordance with visa requirements, and facilitates the process of securing assistance from Barbados consular officials abroad, if necessary.

Diplomatic uniform Uniforms worn by diplomats on formal occasions

Diplomatic uniforms are ornate uniforms worn by diplomats—ambassadorial and consular officers—at public occasions. Introduced by European states around 1800 and patterned on court dress, they were abandoned by most countries in the twentieth century, but diplomats from some countries retain them for rare, formal occasions.

A flight bag can refer to any baggage taken on board a flight, but usually refers to a specific type of document bag carried by pilots and flight crews. Often adorned with an airline logo, at one time the flight bag was a chic fashion accessory.

References

  1. 1 2 Mitchell, Keith (25 March 2014). "The Silver Greyhound - The Messenger Service". GOV.UK. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  2. "Hansard". UK Parliament. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. Freedom of Information Act 2000 Request Ref: FOI Ref: 0315 Letter from Foreign & Commonwealth Office, dated 27 April 2015
  4. Giannangeli, Marco (5 December 2015). "Queen's Messengers face the axe, heroes who resisted all tyrants, honeytraps and pirates". Daily Express. Retrieved 7 September 2016.

Further reading