Etiquette and ‘face’
in The culture of diplomacy
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According to the body language of royal etiquette, gestures constituted concessions of status and, since they were public, could affect the standing of monarchs in the estimation of the international community. The corporate identity of the corps was defined by the perceived rights, privileges and immunities of the ritual, many of which were encoded in the rules, both national and international, of the trade. The corps had a hierarchy of its own, in which diplomats of the first-rank powers took precedence over representatives of the second-rank courts. Two benches had been designated for the diplomats, one for ambassadors and the other behind it for ministers plenipotentiary. Etiquette did more than break the metaphorical ice between hostile powers. It also created a forum where the inherent competition of international relations was kept in check by common rules of civility.

The culture of diplomacy

Britain in Europe, c. 1750–1830

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