Excellency is an honorific
An honorific is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term is used not quite correctly to refer to an honorary title...

Style (manner of address)
A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

 given to certain members of an organization or state.

Usually, people styled "Excellency" are heads of state, heads of government, governors, ambassadors, certain ecclesiastics, royalty, aristocracy, and military, and others holding equivalent rank (e.g., heads of international organizations, high commissioners in the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...


It is sometimes misinterpreted as a title of office in itself, but in fact it is an honorific which goes with and is used before various such titles (such as Mr. President, and so on), both in speech and in writing. In reference to such an official, it takes the form "His/Her Excellency"; in direct address, "Your Excellency", or, less formally, simply "Excellency".

The abbreviation HE is often used instead of His Excellency; alternatively it may stand for His Eminence
His Eminence
His Eminence is a historical style of reference for high nobility, still in use in various religious contexts.-Catholicism:The style remains in use as the official style or standard of address in reference to a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, reflecting his status as a Prince of the Church.A...


Heads of state

In most republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an nations, the president is formally styled "His Excellency"; however in day-to-day conversation "Mr. President" remains the most common means of address.

If a republic has a prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

, he is often addressed as "Excellency" as well. If the nation is a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, however, rules vary. Many European monarchies do not specifically give this form of address to their prime ministers, while most of the monarchies of Asia do.

Governors of colonies in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 were entitled to be addressed as "Excellency" and this remains the position for the Governors of what are now known as British Overseas Territories
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...


International diplomacy

In various international organization
International organization
An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states , or of other intergovernmental organizations...

s, notably the UN and its agencies, Excellency is used as a generic form of address for all heads of state and heads of government. It is often granted to the organization's head as well, and to those chiefs of UN diplomatic missions, such as Resident Coordinator
Resident Coordinator
A United Nations Resident Coordinator is the highest United Nations official and the chief of UN diplomatic mission in a country . It confers the same rank as an Ambassador of a foreign state...

s (who are the designated representatives of the Secretary-General), who are accredited at the Head of State (like an Ambassador), or the lower Head of Government level.

In recent years, some international organizations, such as the OSCE, or the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, have designated their Permanent Representative
Permanent Representative
A Permanent Representative is the head of a diplomatic mission to one of various international organisations. The best known of the organisations to which states send Permanent Representatives is the United Nations; of these, the most high-profile ones are those assigned to headquarters in New...

s in third countries as "Ambassadors", although they do not represent sovereign entities. This is now largely accepted, and because these "Ambassadors" rank after the UN representative in the orders of precedence of representatives of international organizations, the UN coming naturally first as pre-eminent, the UN Resident Coordinators are now also commonly but informally referred to in diplomatic circles as "Ambassadors", although the UN itself does not refer to them in this way.

International Judiciary

Judges of the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 are also styled with "Your Excellency".


In some monarchies the husband
A husband is a male participant in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the husband regarding his spouse and others, and his status in the community and in law, vary between cultures and has varied over time...

s, wives
A wife is a female partner in a marriage. The rights and obligations of the wife regarding her spouse and others, and her status in the community and in law, varies between cultures and has varied over time.-Origin and etymology:...

, or children, of a royal prince or princess, who do not possess a princely title themselves, may be entitled to the style. Former husbands or wives of a royal prince or princess, who did have a royal title but lost this one, may be awarded the style after divorce.

In Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, the husbands or children of an infante or infanta (by birth) do carry the style of "Excellency".

In some emirate
An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Muslim monarch styled emir.-Etymology:Etymologically emirate or amirate is the quality, dignity, office or territorial competence of any emir ....

s (e.g. Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 or Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

), besides the Emir, the Heir Apparent and Prime Minister (the only family member who are styled "His Highness"), all children of a (former) emir are styled with "His/Her Excellency" (unless being awarded a higher style).


In Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and some other countries, high ranking noblemen (of Peerage rank in British terms) with the minimum rank of Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

, or with the dignity Grandee
Grandee is the word used to render in English the Iberic high aristocratic title Grande , used by the Spanish nobility; Portuguese nobility, and Brazilian nobility....

, are styled as "His/Her Excellency".

In Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 feudal counts and barons have the right to be entitled your excellencies.


Excellency can also be attached to an honorary quality, notably in an order of knighthood. For example, in the Empire of Brazil, it was attached to the highest classes, each time styled Grand Cross
Grand Cross
The phrase Grand Cross is used to denote the highest grade in many orders of knighthood. Sometimes the holders of the highest grade are referred to "knights grand cross" or just "grand crosses"; in other cases the actual insignia itself is called "the grand cross".Alternatively, in some other...

, of all three imperial orders: Imperial Order of Pedro I
Order of Pedro I
The Imperial Order of Dom Pedro I is an Brazilian order of chivalry instituted by Emperor Pedro I of Brazil on 16 April 1826.On 22 March 1890, the order was cancelled as national order by the interim government of United States of Brazil....

, Imperial Order of the Southern Cross
Order of the Southern Cross
The National Order of the Southern Cross is a Brazilian order of chivalry founded by Emperor Pedro I on 1 December 1822. This order was intended to commemorate the independence of Brazil and the coronation of Pedro I...

 (in this case, also enjoying the military honours of a Lieutenant general
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

) and Order of the Rose
Order of the Rose
The Imperial Order of the Rose is an Brazilian order of chivalry, instituted by Emperor Pedro I of Brazil on 17 October 1829 to commemorate his marriage to Amélie of Leuchtenberg....


Knights Collar and Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Carlos III of Spain, Knights Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great and Order of St. Sylvester
Order of St. Sylvester
The Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester Pope and Martyr , sometimes referred to as the Sylvestrine Order, or the Pontifical Order of Pope St Sylvester, is one of five Orders of Knighthood awarded directly by the Pope as Supreme Pontiff and head of the Catholic Church and as the Head of...

 of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Order of the Golden Fleece
The Order of the Golden Fleece is an order of chivalry founded in Bruges by Philip III, Duke of Burgundy in 1430, to celebrate his marriage to the Portuguese princess Infanta Isabella of Portugal, daughter of King John I of Portugal. It evolved as one of the most prestigious orders in Europe...

, and Knights Grand Cross of several other orders of high prestige, are also addressed as such.

Military use

In most countries the general officers with the minimum rank equivalent or higher to that of Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

), Vice-Admiral (navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

), or Air Marshal
Air Marshal
Air marshal is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

 (airforce), are addressed as "Excellency".

Ecclesiastical use

By a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Ceremonial of 31 December 1930 the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 granted bishops of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 the title of "Most Reverend Excellency" (Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Excellentia Reverendissima). In the years following the First World War the ambassadorial title of "Excellency", previously given to nuncio
Nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomatic title, derived from the ancient Latin word, Nuntius, meaning "envoy." This article addresses this title as well as derived similar titles, all within the structure of the Roman Catholic Church...

s, had already begun to be used of other Catholic bishops. The adjective "Most Reverend" was intended to distinguish the religious title from that of "Excellency" given to civil officials.

The instruction Ut sive sollicite of the Holy See's Secretariat of State, dated 28 March 1969, made the addition of "Most Reverend" optional.

According to the letter of the decree of 31 December 1930, patriarchs too were to be addressed with the title of "(Most Reverend) Excellency", but in practice the Holy See continued to address them with the title of "Beatitude", which was formally sanctioned for them with the motu proprio Cleri sanctitati of 2 June 1957.

Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, even those who were bishops, continued to use the title of "Eminence".

In some English-speaking countries, the title of "Excellency" is not in practice given to bishops other than the nuncio. In British law, Anglican archbishops and bishops are granted the titles, respectively, of "Grace
Grace (style)
His Grace or Her Grace is a style used for various high ranking personages. It was the style used to address the King or Queen of Scotland up to the Act of Union of 1707, which merged the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, and to address monarchs of England prior to Henry VIII...

" (Your Grace, His Grace, as for a duke) and "Lordship". The same titles are extended by courtesy to their Catholic counterparts, and continue in use in most countries that are or have been members of the Commonwealth. An exception is former British East Africa (Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...



In 1991, the Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian Presidential Office
President of Brazil
The president of Brazil is both the head of state and head of government of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces...

 issued a composition manual to establish the correct usage of the Portuguese language
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 for all government agencies. The manual states that the title of Excelência (Excellency) is the proper form used to address the President and Vice President
Vice-President of Brazil
The Vice President of Brazil is the second-highest ranking government official in the executive branch of the Government of Brazil after the President...

, all members of Parliament and judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

s, among other officials.


The President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

 is addressed as "Your Excellency" or in the Irish language "a Shoilse". Alternatively, one may address the president simply as "President" or in the Irish language "a hUachtaráin".

Commonwealth of Nations

Within the Commonwealth of Nations, the following officials usually use the style "Excellency":
  • The Commonwealth Secretary-General
    Commonwealth Secretary-General
    The Commonwealth Secretary-General is the head of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the central body which has served the Commonwealth of Nations since its establishment in 1965, and responsible for representing the Commonwealth publicly...

  • Presidents of Commonwealth republics;
  • Governors and Governors-General, and the spouses of Governors-General;
  • Commonwealth High Commissioner
    High Commissioner
    High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

  • Foreign ambassadors;
  • Foreign dignitaries who are entitled to the style in their own countries.

While reference may be made to the "Queen's Most Excellent Majesty", the style "Excellency" is not used with reference to the Queen.

United States

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the form "Excellency" was commonly used for George Washington during his Presidency, but it began to fall out of use with his successor, and today has been replaced in direct address with the simple "Mr. President" or "The Honorable " However, in many foreign countries and in United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 protocol the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 is usually referred to as "His Excellency." Diplomatic correspondence to President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, as during the Trent Affair
Trent affair
The Trent Affair, also known as the Mason and Slidell Affair, was an international diplomatic incident that occurred during the American Civil War...

, for instance, frequently referred to him as "His Excellency."

In the six states of New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, governors have retained the honorific "Excellency," following traditional British colonial practice, though it is rarely used. Five of the other original colonies, Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 also use the form "Excellency" in referring to their governors, and in South Carolina this is provided for by law. West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 likewise adopted the title "His/Her Excellency" from its parent state. The term is used frequently in the U.S. state of Georgia on the Governor's letterhead, the text of executive orders, any document requiring his or her signature and when in formal settings. Nevertheless, "Excellency" is used frequently when introducing the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Governor of Virginia
Governor of Virginia
The governor of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The position is currently held by Republican Bob McDonnell, who was inaugurated on January 16, 2010, as the 71st governor of Virginia....

 and the Governor of North Carolina
Governor of North Carolina
The Governor of North Carolina is the chief executive of the State of North Carolina, one of the U.S. states. The current governor is Bev Perdue, North Carolina's first female governor.-Powers:...

 at formal events. The governor of Michigan
Governor of Michigan
The Governor of Michigan is the chief executive of the U.S. State of Michigan. The current Governor is Rick Snyder, a member of the Republican Party.-Gubernatorial elections and term of office:...

 is traditionally afforded the courtesy title, though it has fallen out of use in recent years. http://books.google.com/books?id=c8IlAQAAIAAJ&pg=RA1-PA167&dq=his+excellency+the+governor+%2B+michigan&hl=en&ei=qAa5TKHoJ9LnnQf82KG1DQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=his%20excellency%20the%20governor%20%2B%20michigan&f=false

Other governors are sometimes addressed as "excellency" at public events. This is a traditional practice that is not at all incorrect, but it is less common, and is the product of custom and courtesy rather than of legislation.

Though ambassadors are traditionally accorded the title elsewhere, the U.S. government does not use "excellency" for its diplomatic corps, preferring "the honorable" instead.

See also

  • Ecclesiastical Addresses
    Ecclesiastical Addresses
    -United States:* Cardinal: Cardinal John Smith ; His Eminence; Your Eminence* Cardinal who is also an archbishop: Cardinal John Smith , Archbishop of New York; His Eminence; Your Eminence...

  • Style - Manner of Address
  • Use of courtesy titles and honorifics in professional writing
    Use of courtesy titles and honorifics in professional writing
    The use of honorifics and styles differs greatly among publications in both journalism and academia. The differences are based on tradition, practical concerns , and cultural norms...

  • Canadian honorifics
    Canadian honorifics
    Canadian honorifics are few, many of which are maintained from before Confederation and originate from the British honours system.-Royal and governmental honorifics:-Military honorifics:...

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