The Secret Diary of an Ambassador’s Daughter

In Commentary, HOME, LIFE by Sam Prance

There are three versions of myself: the small-town girl from the Cotswolds, the London student living off of a student loan and the ambassador’s daughter.

As a child I was accustomed to the diplomatic lifestyle, moving from Paris, to Bohn, to Berlin, however I was too young to take part in diplomatic events. Whenever my father, L-J, had to host dinners for his co-workers, my siblings and I would be expected to remain in our rooms for its duration. There were never any complaints; we all knew what these dinners meant. It meant the best leftovers the following day – crème caramels etc. However at the age of seven this lifestyle came to an end, as I moved back to England with my mum, while my father continued his travels.

PicturesFast forward about a decade and there came the turning point in my role as an ambassador’s daughter. The summer following my GCSE’s I ventured to Paris where my father was Deputy Ambassador, mainly to ameliorate my French. And it was during the couple of weeks I stayed that I was first properly introduced to diplomatic social life and events. I was invited, alongside my father, to events ranging from a yodelling concert at the Swiss Embassy, to the Japanese national day at their own Embassy. Thus began what I like to consider my training period as an ambassador’s daughter.

Then in late 2011 my father received his first posting as Ambassador. In December of that year my siblings and I spent our first hot Christmas and New Year in Khartoum, Sudan. I remember the shock most of my friends expressed when I first broke the news of where I would be spending my break. Sudan is hardly represented in the most positive light on the news, and if I’m honest my first trip there was a confused mix of excitement and anxiety.

However, over the two and a half years my dad lived there, I grew to love the country, despite its misgivings. Two New Year’s Eves in a row I had the incredible fortune of watching the last sunset disappear across the horizon of the desert. It became a tradition for a few diplomats to set up camp on a dune, with a grill, speakers on the cars blaring and all of us dancing until day dawned.

1511198_10202015368038561_1406347817_nAlthough, above anything, what remains with me from my time in Sudan is the highest opinion of all the individuals I was privileged enough to meet. At a dinner hosted by a Greek fellow whose nickname was ‘The Hunter’, my twin sister, India, and I became acquainted with a lovely American dietician, Mascha Davis, who travels all across Sudan, most notably to Darfur, ensuring better nutrition for those who live there. Though I shall probably not return to Sudan, we remain in contact through social media, delighted to be receiving updates over Instagram and Facebook of her life in Khartoum.

However, it is important to note that it is not solely westerners I made friends with in Sudan but locals too. Over my numerous trips to Sudan I met countless people, and it would be impossible to remember every single individual I talked to, but then again there are some it would find impossible to forget.

Through a friend of my father, India and I were introduced to Rania and Abeer, who were the most beautiful young Sudanese girls we had ever seen, and both of whom were studying medicine. We became fast friends, shocked that they were so in tune with our pop culture. Our families gathered again for a dinner by the Nile, this time joined by their younger brother Ahmed, who was closer to my age. Though not immediately as talkative as his sisters (not entirely his fault, he was very outnumbered, four girls to one boy), he soon became my best friend in Khartoum. It only took a night of shisha at Abeer’s birthday party the next day to properly bond and forma lasting friendship.

1517447_10202015250555624_998828798_n (1)And yet, then came the inevitable moment when L-J had to move. In fact it came a lot sooner than expected, usually each posting is about a four year commitment, however, after two and a half years, he moved to Mexico City.

This summer I had the opportunity to visit him at his new posting. Sure enough, upon arrival, my father told me I had to get up early the next morning (not particularly a problem due to my immense jet lag), as we were to fly over to Belize the following day. As a new Ambassador my dad was to present his credentials to the Belize Minister of Foreign Affairs, Governor General and Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Casual.

It is experiences like this that lead to my friends back home joking about me being ‘an undercover Swiss princess’. To which of course I feel obliged to point out that there is no Swiss royalty, but who am I to argue. What a glamorous life, right? The first few days of my stay I was able to explore a new country, a new culture: from climbing Mayan temples and snorkelling in the Belize barrier reef, it was incredible.

994136_10203353475250405_2931393504982507369_nAnd the Ambassador’s daughter aspect of it all was great too. The social life of diplomats is generally romanticised within my circle of friends, but the reality is that the social aspect encompasses a large portion of my father’s job as Ambassador. The dinners, parties and events organised act as an extension to the work involved in the office. Alliances with other embassies are reinforced as a result of this.

Thus, it is part of the role as an ambassador’s family to become involved with these gatherings, in fact diplomats with partners receive a higher pay. This is slightly due to the fact that with the regular moving it is difficult for partners to get their own work or income that fits alongside that of an ambassador’s, but also because they are so involved in the socialising.

My time back in Mexico consisted of many of these types of events. Over the course of two months I attended more than ever before. From an array of National Day events to a cocktail dinner with the Bejart Ballet Company. For all these events it becomes a game of working out which language is most suitable. At National Days generally English and Spanish were the popular option, whereas with the dancers it was French and English.

However, with diplomatic events it is rare to converse with younger people, and the definition of young was somewhat stretched compared to back home. For example within my first week in Mexico I met the most fabulous Chelsea boy, or should I say man, at the Russian Embassy. His name is Daniel and he had been living in Mexico City for several months, and though he was closer to forty than twenty he quickly became my favourite person in Mexico.

10511203_10203226027344287_8801728490392367699_nAnd the best part of meeting new people like this within these diplomatic events is then meeting up again in less formal situations. My sister and I experienced the  Mexican nightlife with two locals we were introduced to at the Swiss National Day, Bogdan and Fernanda, on several occasions. From the popular regular clubs to Mama Rumba, a salsa club, we were able to see a whole new side to the city. To see Mexico, not just as ambassador’s daughters but through the eyes of locals also.

*   *   *

All of this is thanks to the fact that my father is an ambassador, an achievement and status I am very proud of. However, it is worth acknowledging, as I conclude that he is the ambassador of a relatively small country. Ambassadors for the U.S. have a higher status. To paraphrase Animal Farm, all ambassadors are equal, but some ambassadors are more equal than others. This can be illustrated with the Mexican National Day, where all the ambassadors gather to witness the President shout out of a balcony. However, the only Ambassador who gets to sit besides the President, even be in the same room during this custom, is the U.S. Ambassador. Ambassador rules 101. 

10313076_10203209131321897_55487929564374099_nRegardless of ambassador hierarchy though, the opportunities I have been blessed with are as a direct result of my fathers work. I have seen so much, met so many people and I just generally have the most memorable family holidays.

Merci Papa.

Jade Touron

Jade Touron studies Film and TV Production at the University of Westminster. She has an eclectic taste in most aspects of her life, whether it be music or men. When she’s not busy traveling the world or watching New Girl she likes to tease her twin (sorry India), play Harry Potter Cluedo (homemade bitches) and dye her hair every shade of K-Pop (blue is a personal fave).

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