Archive for October, 2010


Behind the Scenes – Diplomatic Protocol

Elements of protocol are at work throughout our daily interactions with others but are usually fairly subtle in nature. Never is protocol more at the forefront though than with state visits by Monarchs and Popes. Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to the UK  prompted an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the person responsible for protocol matters upon his arrival, Anita  Newcourt. This article ws originally run on the 16th of September in The Telegraph.

By Iain Hollingshead
Published: 7:00AM BST 16 Sep 2010

The Pope: Anita the Greeter meets the Pope

Iain Hollingshead meets Anita The Greeter, Heathrow’s VIP services manager, who will be the first person to welcome the Pope to England when he lands for his papal visit.

 For most of us, landing at an airport means long queues, surly passport officials, lost baggage and a mad dash for the car park, none of which does much good for the stress levels, or the deep-veined thrombosis.

At 9.15 this evening the Pope will have a very difference experience when his flight from Glasgow lands at Heathrow. The specially chartered Alitalia jet will pull up to Terminal 4’s Royal suite, the red carpet will be rolled out and his Holiness will be ushered into the plush surroundings of suite one, with its David Hockney paintings and Lord Linley folding screen, for a private meeting with Boris Johnson.

 Before he meets the Mayor of London, however, the first person the Pope will see on English soil is Anita Newcourt, a lieutenant colonel in the TA and Heathrow’s VIP Services Manager. Dubbed, inevitably, “Anita the Greeter” by her colleagues, Newcourt’s extraordinary job is to meet every VIP who passes through Britain’s busiest airport. Since she started 15 years ago, Anita has greeted everyone from Nelson Mandela to the Dalai Lama to Princess Margaret (who always expected a bacon sandwich to be ready for her arrival).

If Newcourt were to write a book it would be an instant bestseller. She tells the story of Madeleine Albright hosting peace talks in London in 1998 between Arafat and Netanyahu. When the talks broke down, both the Israeli and the Palestinian delegations were on the phone to Newcourt instantly, both demanding the right to fly away first, so that they could claim that they’d snubbed the other. “We were right in the middle of it, getting shouted at,” she recalls. “But we were very diplomatic, and both delegations left at pretty much the same time, still feeling like VIPs.”

Another middle-eastern former head of state, whom she doesn’t want to name, asked on arrival for a transfer to another terminal so the entourage of 30 could have a McDonald’s.

The details of protocol are also enthralling. The Pope’s people have stipulated that there are to be no handshakes. When the Crown Prince of Thailand held a meeting in suite one, his advisors were all lying on the floor, to show their respect. On another occasion, one person tried to pretend he was a count from Lichtenstein so he could get the VIP treatment. “We soon figured him out,” says Newcourt.

She hasn’t always got the details right, though. A while ago, she was preparing for the visit of the President of Yemen and was introduced to Prince Naseem, the British boxer born to Yemeni parents. Mistaking him for a member of the Yemeni royal family Newcourt called him “your highness” throughout their conversation.

Sadly this charming, stylish 45-year-old, who is fluent in several languages, is far too discreet to spill too many beans. “Some VIPs are a joy to work with,” she says, leaving one, tantalisingly, to speculate on which ones might have been a little less joyous. Saint or sinner, their names are all recorded – accompanied by autographs – in what must be the world’s most eBay-able Visitor’s Book: the Queen (“She doesn’t like flying,” says a slightly less discreet colleague); George Bush (“odd” – ditto), Nicolas Sarkozy (“wearing heels”), Carla Bruni, Neil Kinnock…

Four months of planning have gone into the Pope’s arrival at Heathrow, with Newcourt and her team liaising with the FCO, the Vatican, the police, the press, the drivers. “My job is to make the whole orchestra play together,” she says. “And to ensure that no one is playing out of tune. It’s important to get the details right. The welcome starts at Heathrow. If it goes wrong here, it sets the wrong tone for an entire trip.”

Yesterday lunchtime Anita the Greeter met the Emir of Kuwait and his huge entourage, the only woman in a sea of hundreds of suits. “Sandhurst gave me the confidence,” she says. “And it is often a useful talking point.” Later that day she was due to greet the Crown Prince of Bahrain and the President of Rwanda. Today, it’s the Pope.

“I know it sounds really big-headed,” she says, “but I can’t think of anyone left I’d like to meet. Most of the really interesting people have already died. The job is a huge privilege and I’m looking forward to meeting the Pope. But as a Pole by birth, I’d have been more excited if it had been his predecessor.”


In with Outerwear

Belted, double-breasted, princess, military, robe or knee-length, choose a shape that makes your best entrance!  Here’s a quick video demonstrating three different outerwear looks.


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Men’s Autumn Essentials

As the air turns crisp but not yet cold and the temperature can vary widely in the course of a day, our clothes also transition and have a spirit and and a texture all their own. We always say that fall clothes are the meat of our wardrobe, the spine of our closets and  the best we own!

This season men will need transitional pieces as everything comes out of the storage: sweaters, flannel shirts, coats and wool scarves.

Men’s Autumn Essentials List:

SWEATERS – Embrace the warmth!


In most places, it’s sweater season. Men need several, especially in smoothly knit wools. Cashmere is best because it is light, not bulky and warm enough for cool days but not so warm that you can’t survive the Indian-summer sun.  For a relaxed but dressy look,wear a V-neck, a cardigan or a polo sweater with a shirt and a tie at the office. A turtleneck will keep you wed but arm, lengthen your neck and create a chic look.

JACKETS – Explore and experiment


Opt for a waist length outer jacket in either gabardine or tweed. Tailored jackets are great for layering with elements from the casual wardrobe as well. For example, a tweed jacket can be combined just as well with a plaid flannel shirt and jeans as with a cashmere sweater, dress shirt and suit trousers. Casual jackets are also a part of the mix: leather or suede jackets – key fall fashion pieces – are effectively layered, sometimes even with shirts and ties.  Depending on their lifestyle, many men prefer the nylon jacket with a fleece lining for in-between seasons: it repels rain, provides good insulation but will not overheat.


PANTS –  Essential essentials

If you were to pair down your wardrobe to the absolute minimum this fall, the three essentials trousers would be flat front gray wool pants, khakis and dark-wash classic jeans. A good pair of gray wool flannel pants can cary a man from business to casual situations. Plan to purchase more pants than jackets as pants tend to wear out faster. Stock up on khakis (also called chinos) in darker color for fall- you can wear them almost everywhere and combine them with almost everything! Comfortable, stylish and practical, a good pair of dark, well fitted jeans can take you from casual Friday to the weekend and IF the office dress code allows it, right to Monday morning.

BOOTS – Dressy yet Casual

Buy a pair  in the best quality you can afford, that combines well your pants and outfits. Avoid the styles that are too dressy or the styles that are too rugged and casual. Black will give you more flexibility, but dark brown will add more chic to your look. Don’t forget the matching belt!