John Marshall, UK ambassador to Luxembourg, poses in front of the British embassy for a portrait taken for Delano last year by Mike Zenari
Meet the diplomat highlighting links between the UK and Grand Duchy, 140 characters at a time.
British Ambassador to Luxembourg John Marshall is one of the few in the diplomatic corps to fully embrace social media platform Twitter.
Followers of @HMAJohnMarshall will be able to view his professional movements, find out where he last went running and, since September, learn some interesting facts about the common history between Luxembourg and the UK.
“I’ve always been interested in historical links between the UK and the countries in which I’ve been posted,” the ambassador told Delano. “So, I had the idea of tweeting on links between the UK and Luxembourg, with a view to then turn that into a media exhibition.”
Tweeting twice a week, the ambassador has shared links spanning anything from history and politics to the military, industry, science and culture. His tweets have included well-known stories, for example the fact that while in exile during WWII, the Luxembourg government spent time in London, from where the then Grand Duchess Charlotte broadcast to Luxembourgers living under occupation.
Another well-documented link concerns the military. The graves of numerous Royal Air Force personnel are located in Luxembourg and three generations of the Grand Ducal family were trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in Surrey.
The first was Grand Duke Jean, who volunteered for the British army in 1942, participating in the Normandy operations and helping liberate Luxembourg. After WWII, he became colonel with the Irish Guards and later he was made an honorary general. “I’ve met him and he recalls fondly his association with the Irish Guards,” Marshall said.
By May these factoids and more will also be found outside of the Twittersphere, on printed roll-ups as part of a “mobile exhibition” for use on external visits.
One of the words you will not find in any of the ambassador’s tweets is Brexit. This planned withdrawal from the EU, decided by a slim majority in last year’s referendum, is “unrelated” and certainly not the “driving force” behind the Twitter project, he insisted.
However, if the tweets give people a better understanding of “the very rich history we’ve shared over the years” and help them “talk about things in a longer historical perspective, that would be great,” Marshall said.
The stories will no doubt interest the over 6,000 Britons living in Luxembourg and Luxembourgers alike, even if they are limited to 140 characters. The ambassador hopes in future to produce a booklet providing more details on each tweet.
In the meantime, he wants to hear from anyone with less well-known stories; via Twitter, of course.