The Directorate-General for Protocol, Chancellery and Orders is responsible for the preparation, coordination and implementation of official acts and ceremonies related to the State’s foreign policy.
The Directorate-General for Protocol, Chancellery and Orders is headed up by the Director-General, who holds what is probably the oldest title of either Spanish or foreign public authorities – Introducer of Ambassadors. Its origin dates back to the Persian Chiliarch, who presented foreign authorities to the sovereign, as can be seen in the reliefs of Ancient Persepolis. In Spain, the person commissioned with receiving ambassadors and accompanying them to the Royal Palace to present their letters of credence to the King, along with organising the ceremony related to foreign policy has traditionally received the name of Introducer of Ambassadors since the reign of Carlos III, although the function of this office is much older, since in 1626, in the reign of Felipe IV, the post of Introducer of Ambassadors’ was created with similar functions.
Caridad Batalla Junco was appointed as the Introducer of Ambassadors on 8 October 2019, the third woman to hold this position, after Cristina Barrios and María Sáenz de Heredia.
The Directorate-General for Protocol, Chancellery and Orders has various responsibilities:
- It is responsible for the preparation, coordination and implementation of official acts and ceremonies related to the State’s foreign policy, both in Spain and abroad, and, in particular, for the official visits of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain and for the visits by foreign Heads of State to our country. It also organises the acts and ceremonies that the Minister for Foreign Affairs takes part in and, in general, those that take place at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, particularly at Santa Cruz Palace and at Viana Palace. This directorate-general also takes part, in collaboration with the Department of Protocol of the Royal Household, the Presidency of the Government and other ministerial departments and institutions in the organisation of such international events and conferences as COP25 and the ASEM Ministerial Meeting, which took place in December 2019.
- It is in charge of managing chancellery questions relation to accredited diplomatic missions in Spain, its consular offices and international bodies with their headquarters or offices in our country, such as the opening of these offices and the accreditation of their staff. It is responsible for overseeing compliance with and respect for immunity, facilities and privileges contained in the body of diplomatic law in force in Spain, particularly under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations of 1961 and 1963, and under host country agreements signed with the respective international bodies.
In total, there are 126 embassies resident in Spain and almost 800 consulates-general, 153 of which are official and more than 600 honorary. In addition, another 49 countries are accredited in Spain, but with their residence in Paris, London, Brussels or Geneva. There are also 42 international bodies with headquarters in Spain.
The order of precedence of the ambassadors is established by handing over their letters of credence which, in turn, is established by the order of the hand-over of the copies of style to the Introducer of Ambassadors.
- The directorate-general also takes a leading role in the reception of new ambassadors who, on their arrival, hand over their copies of style to the Introducer of Ambassadors, and in the holding of the ceremony to present their letters of credence to His Majesty the King at the Royal Palace, which represents the formal commencement of their work in Spain. This is one of the oldest ceremonies still carried out in the world.
- The directorate-general also handles the processing of the dossiers for the decorations of the Orders of Isabella the Catholic and of Civil Merit, which are the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, which acknowledge the merits of Spanish and foreign citizens for extraordinary actions.