The Rake

Charged Affairs

Source: Lord and Lady Mountbatten meet Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his wife, Kamala Nehru, in 1947.

Henry Wotton, a diplomat and statesman who sat in the House of Commons in the early 17th century, asserted: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” But take a close look at the antics of those whose vocational calling is to represent their nations in foreign climes and you’ll find plenty of men and women who dabble in far more iniquitous deeds than a spot of tactical fibbing. While archaeologists from Cairo University stumbled across the 3,100-year-old tomb of Paser, the world’s first royal emissary to foreign nations, diplomacy is not, by some stretch, the oldest profession in the world, yet the moral code by which it seems to be governed is not a million miles away from that overseeing the profession that famously is.

The legions of global viewers of were alerted to diplomacy’s shady underbelly a few years ago, when its writer, Julian Fellowes, revealed that Kemal Pamuk — the Turkish house guest who panted and puffed his ecstatic farewell to the world during a steamy bout between the sheets with Lady Mary — was based on a real-life Turkish diplomat about whose exploits Fellowes learned when he was shown the diary of one of the protagonists. Readers of the famously understated , in 2011, were given a far more hyperbolic awakening to the fruity realities of ambassadorial endeavour with a piece that bemoaned official foreign visitors — “egotistical scum unfit to lick

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