Excellency: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Excellency is an honorific style given to certain members of an organization or state.

Usually, people styled "Excellency" are counted amongst:

It is sometimes misinterpreted as a title of office in itself, but in fact it is an honorific which goes with and is used before various such titles (such as Mr. President, and so on), both in speech and in writing. In reference to such an official, it takes the form "His/Her Excellency"; in direct address, "Your Excellency", or, less formally, simply "Excellency".

The abbreviation "HE" is often used in stead of "His Excellency"; alternatively it may stand for "His Eminence".



References to men also include women.


Heads of state

In most republican nations, the president is formally styled "His Excellency" however in day-to-day conversation "Mr. President" remains the most common means of address.

If a republic has a prime minister, he is often addressed as "Excellency" as well. If the nation is a constitutional monarchy, however, rules vary. Many European monarchies do not specifically give this form of address to their prime ministers, while most of the monarchies of Asia do.

International diplomacy

In various international organizations, notably the UN and its agencies, "Excellency" is used as a generic form of address for all heads of state and heads of government. It is often granted to the organization's head as well, and to those chiefs of UN diplomatic missions, such as Resident Coordinators (who are the designated representatives of the Secretary-General), who are accredited at the Head of State (like an Ambassador), or the lower Head of Government level.

In recent years, some international organizations, such as the OSCE, or the European Union, have designated their Permanent Representatives in third countries as "Ambassadors", although they do not represent sovereign entities. This is now largely accepted, and because these "Ambassadors" rank after the UN representative in the orders of precedence of representatives of international organizations, the UN coming naturally first as pre-eminent, the UN Resident Coordinators are now also commonly but informally referred to in diplomatic circles as "Ambassadors", although the UN itself does not refer to them in this way.

Royalty, aristocracy

Former husbands or wives of royal princes or princesses (unless they keep the princely title) may be entitled to the style.

In Spain and some other countries, high ranking noblemen titles of nobility (of Peerage rank in British terms) also enjoy styling as "His/Her Excellency".

Ecclesiastical use

By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Ceremonial of 31 December 1930[1] the Holy See granted bishops of the Roman Catholic Church the title of "Most Reverend Excellency" (Latin, Excellentia Reverendissima). In the years following the First World War the ambassadorial title of "Excellency", previously given to nuncios, had already begun to be used of other Catholic bishops. The adjective "Most Reverend" was intended to distinguish the religious title from that of "Excellency" given to civil officials.

The instruction Ut sive sollicite of the Holy See's Secretariat of State, dated 28 March 1969, made the addition of "Most Reverend" optional.[2]

According to the letter of the decree of 31 December 1930, patriarchs too were to be addressed with the title of "(Most Reverend) Excellency", but in practice the Holy See continued to address them with the title of "Beatitude", which was formally sanctioned for them with the motu proprio Cleri sanctitati of 2 June 1957.

Cardinals, even those who were bishops, continued to use the title of "Eminence".

In some English-speaking countries, the title of "Excellency" is not in practice given to bishops other than the nuncio. In British law, Anglican archbishops and bishops are granted the titles, respectively, of "Grace" (Your Grace, His Grace, as for a duke) and "Lordship". The same titles are extended by courtesy to their Catholic counterparts, and continue in use in most countries that are or have been members of the Commonwealth. An exception is former British East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania).

Other secular excellencies

Excellency can also be attached to an honorary quality, notably in an order of knighthood; e.g. in the Empire of Brazil, it was attached to the highest classes, each time styled Grand Cross, of all three imperial orders: Imperial Order of Dom Pedro I, Imperial Order of the Southern Cross (in this case, also enjoying the military honours of a Lieutenant general) and Order of the Rose.

By country


In 1991, the Brazilian Presidential Office issued a composition manual to establish the correct usage of the Portuguese language for all government agencies. The manual states that the title of Excelência (Excellency) is the proper form used to address the President and Vice President, all members of Parliament and judges, among other officials.[3]

Commonwealth of Nations

Within the Commonwealth of Nations, certain officials may use the style "Excellency", including

While reference may be made to the "Queen's most excellent majesty", the style "excellency" is not used by the Queen herself.


In the People's Republic of China, the form "Excellency" is commonly used to refer to the President, the Premier and high-ranking officials. For example, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao are referred to as "His Excellency".

United States

In the United States, the form "Excellency" was commonly used for George Washington during his Presidency, but it began to fall out of use with his successor, and today has been replaced in direct address with the simple "Mr. President" or "The Honorable " However, in many foreign countries and in United Nations protocol the President of the United States is usually referred to as "His Excellency." Diplomatic correspondence to President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, as during the Trent Affair, for instance, frequently referred to him as "His Excellency."

In the six states of New England, governors have retained the honorific "Excellency," following traditional British colonial practice, though it is rarely used. They are: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. All of these states were among the original Thirteen Colonies, either as colonies in their own right, or (in the case of Vermont and Maine) as parts of other colonies. Five of the other original colonies, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia also use the form "Excellency" in referring to their governors. The State of South Carolina legally provides for the Governor to be referred to as "Excellency"; the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina do not. The term is used frequently in the State of Georgia on the Governor's letterhead, the text of executive orders, any document requiring his signature and when in formal settings. Nevertheless, "Excellency" is used frequently when introducing the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Governor of Virginia and the Governor of North Carolina at formal events.

Other governors are sometimes addressed as "excellency" at public events. This is a traditional practice that is not at all incorrect, but it is less common, and is the product of custom and courtesy rather than of legislation.

Though ambassadors are traditionally accorded the title elsewhere (see below), the U.S. government does not use "excellency" for its diplomatic corps, preferring "the honorable" instead.

See also

Sources and references

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EXCELLENCY (Lat. excellentia, excellence), a title or predicate of honour. The earliest records of its use are associated with the Frank and Lombard kings; e.g. Anastasius Bibliothecarius (d. c. 886) in his life of Pope Honorius refers to Charlemagne as "his excellency" (ejus excellentia); and during the middle ages it was freely applied to or assumed by emperors, kings and sovereign princes generally, though rather as a rhetorical flourish than as a part of their formal style. Its use is well illustrated in the various charters in the Red Book of the exchequer, where the addresses to the king vary between "your excellency," "your dignity" (vestra dignitas), " your sublimity" (vestra sublimitas) and the like, according to the taste and inventiveness of the writers. Du Cange also gives examples of the style excellentia being applied to the pope and even to a bishop (in a charter of 1182). With the gradual stereotyping of titles of honour that of "excellency" was definitively superseded in the case of sovereigns of the highest rank, about the beginning of the 15th century, by those of "highness" and "grace," and later by "majesty," first assumed in England by King Henry VIII.

Dukes and counts of the Empire and the Italian reigning princes continued, however, to be "excellencies" for a while longer. In 1593 the bestowal of the title of excellence by Henry IV. of France on the duc de Nevers, his ambassador at Rome, set a precedent that was universally followed from the time of the treaty of Westphalia (1648). This, together with the reservation in 1640 of the title "eminence" to the cardinals, led the Italian princes to adopt the style of "highness" (altezza) instead of "excellency." In France, from 165 4 onwards, the title of excellence was given to all high civil and military officials, and this example was followed in Germany in the 18th century.

The subsequent fate of the title varies very greatly in different countries. In Great Britain it is borne by the viceroy of India, the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, all governors of colonies and ambassadors. In the United States it is part of the official style of the governors of states, but not of that of the president; though diplomatic usage varies in this respect, some states (e.g. France) conceding to him the style of "excellency," others (e.g. Belgium) refusing it. The custom of other republics differs: in France the president is addressed as excellence by courtesy; in Switzerland the title is omitted; in the South American republics it is part of the official style (Pradier-Fodere, Cours de droit diplom. i. 89). In Spain the title of excelencia properly belonged to the grandees and to those who had the right to be covered in the royal presence, but it was extended also to high officials, viceroys, ministers, captains-general, lieutenants-general, ambassadors and knights of the Golden Fleece. In Austria the title Exzellenz belongs properly to privy councillors. It has, however, gradually been extended by custom to all the higher military commands from lieutenant-field-marshal upwards. Ministers, even when not privy councillors, are styled Exzellenz. In Germany the title is borne by the imperial chancellor, the principal secretaries of state, ministers and Oberprasidenten in Prussia, by generals from the rank of lieutenant-general upwards, by the chief court officials, and it is also sometimes bestowed as a title of honour in cases where it is not attached to the office held by its recipient. In Russia the title is very common, being borne by all officers from major-general upwards and by all officials above the rank of acting privy councillor. Officers and officials of the highest rank have the title of "high excellency." Finally, in Italy, the title eccelenza, which had come to be used in the republics of Venice and Genoa as the usual form of address to nobles, has become as meaningless as the English title of "esquire" or the address of "sir," being, especially in the south, the usual form of address to any stranger.

In the diplomatic service the title of excellency is technically reserved to ambassadors, but in addressing envoys also this form is commonly used by courtesy. (W. A. P.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also excellency





Excellency (plural Excellencies)

  1. (used with His, Her or Your) A form of address for certain high officials or dignitaries.



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