Keepers of the European flame? : narratives and selfrepresentation of British diplomats in historical perspective
Title: Keepers of the European flame? : narratives and selfrepresentation of British diplomats in historical perspective
Author: RAINEAU, Thomas
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2015/08
This paper deals with the importance and the specific role of British diplomats in the historical narratives that have developed in the past decades on the relationship between Britain and the EEC/EU. Diplomatic actors have contributed, quite early on, to the first narratives that were produced on “Britain and Europe”, as anonymous providers of information or direct witnesses. This paper will venture the idea that, within the small group of British top diplomats in charge of European affairs from the 1960s to the late 1990s, some individuals have progressively acquired – or been attributed - a peculiar status in historical studies and narratives: their personal contribution and commitment to the European policy of the UK when they were on active service, and their participation to the political and/or academic debate on Britain and Europe, when retired, may qualify them to the title of “keepers of the European flame”, in the absence of political figures available to assume that role in the UK. The paper will seek to understand and assess the validity of such a title in the light of the increasingly diversified corpus of sources that has emerged in the past thirty years: programmes of oral diplomatic history, published diplomatic memoirs and published official sources.
Subject: United-Kingdom; Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); Diplomats; Historiography; Hagiography
Type of Access: openAccess