Diplomacy has always been a lifestyle requiring its disciples to abandon some of the customary distinctions between public and private life. Diplomacy, as a profession, had a much higher social and political standing in Europe than in Britain, a fact attributable to the often direct involvement of ‘absolute’ monarchs, be it in terms of appointment, instruction, negotiation or policy formation. Prospects for social and political advancement were also open to those of genteel extraction who belonged to the kinship, friendship or clientage networks of powerful English political clans. Diplomacy, as this suggests, relies a good deal on the exercise of discretion, the morality of which accords poorly with an emerging code of public ethics that prioritized transparency and merit over secrecy and privilege.
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