More specifically, does the title "The Right Honourable" apply to former PMs as well? Is "Your/Her/His Excellency" used at all?

I'm finding several references for how to address current PMs, but I'm not sure if this changes once that person is no longer in office.

  • Prime Minister of which country? It may make a difference. – Mick Nov 4 '16 at 11:48
  • While I can answer this question, I can say that in the U.S. former presidents are still addressed as "Mr President." This applies to positions as well. For example, Hillary Clinton is still addressed as "Secretary Clinton", even though she no longer holds that position. – Scribblemacher Nov 4 '16 at 11:55
  • 1
    As far as I am aware, in the UK once a person has left elected office they are again a private citizen. So unless they have had some other title bestowed through the Honours system, I don't see why It wouldn't be the same as addressing any other person. To be honest, I wouldn't even write to my MP any more formally than 'Ian Blackwood, MP' on the envelope and 'Mr Blackwood' at the head of the letter. (though to be truly honest, I'd be more likely tweet him in the first instance.) – Spagirl Nov 4 '16 at 12:04
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about local etiquette rather than general English usage. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 4 '16 at 12:08
  • 1
    @karimtabet ... and so little time. ;-) – Mick Nov 4 '16 at 15:20

In Commonwealth countries, former prime ministers who are no longer members of parliament should be addressed as:

The Right Honourable (full name)

If the person is still a member of parliament, they should be addressed as before:

The Right Honourable (full name), MP

How to Address a Prime Minister

  • When refering to them maybe, but when addressing them directly in a letter, do you put "Dear The Right Honourable Alex Ferguson, ..." ? – colmde Nov 4 '16 at 13:02
  • I would put "Dear Mr. Ferguson". Neither "Dear Prime Minister" nor "Dear Ex Prime Minister" would be correct. Margaret Thatcher was referred to as "Mrs. Thatcher" when she ceased being Prime Minister, and David Cameron is now plain Mr. Cameron again. – Mick Nov 4 '16 at 13:09
  • 1
    By way of clarification: former PMs are styled "The Right Honourable" by virtue of their membership of the Privy Council, not because they were PM per se. All PMs are members of the Privy Council ex officio and appointment is for life (although it is possible to be struck off, albeit unlikely). See Debrett's, the quasi-official guide to this kind of quibbling snobbery. (A caveat: this all pertains to the UK but is likely the same in other Commonwealth countries which haven't yet ditched the... Windsor woman.) – tmgr Oct 8 '18 at 19:26

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.