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Equal Status, 19461948

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Chapter Summary

The arrival of an American ambassador in Ottawa at the end of 1943 had led to Canada’s speedy adoption of what had by then become the common practice of bestowing ‘excellency’ not only on ambassadors but also on lower ranking ministers plenipotentiary. As Canada’s Department of External Affairs (DEA) saw it, the basic problem was that high commissioners lacked diplomatic immunity and had ‘considerably lower’ precedence than diplomats, whereas they ought to be treated as considerately as foreigners and rank with ambassadors. In considering what might be done, Britain was throughout guided by a determination that nothing must detract from the ‘idea’ of Commonwealth membership. The 1948 Prime Ministers’ Meeting was, as usual, held in London and conducted on an informal basis, with no resolutions and no voting. The agreement to treat high commissioners and ambassadors as equal in status required the revision of national tables of precedence.

Keywords: American ambassador; Britain’s deliberations; Commonwealth membership; department of external affairs (DEA); diplomatic immunity; high commissioners; Ottawa



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