Dear Members of the British Residents Association,
This January, I was delighted to take up my position as His Majesty’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Working in the heart of Berne, surrounded by a stunning alpine landscape and the beautiful Aare river, has been a new and significant experience for me – and my children love the trams!
Raised in Cambridge, I attended the University of Bristol and subsequently worked in the financial sector until 2008, which is when I joined the Diplomatic Service. Prior to my posting in Berne, I held various roles with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Most recently, I was the Head of the North East Asia and Pacific Department (2019-2022).
In my few first months, I have already had the wonderful opportunity to meet numerous Brits residing in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Key moments so far include meeting members of the BRA in Lugano, where I had the honour of planting an olive tree at St Edward the Confessor Church as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative in memory of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Representing the British Embassy Berne at the twinning ceremony between Champéry and Llandudno provided a great opportunity to meet members of the Welsh community in Switzerland. Through my Principality visit in Liechtenstein and ongoing cantonal visits in Switzerland – most recently Geneva – I have also been able to connect with the vibrant British community living in different parts of Switzerland and learn more about the deep historical ties between the UK and Switzerland.
I look forward to engaging further with the diverse communities around me over the coming years and highlighting all that the UK has to offer, particularly by working on the FCDO’s key priorities in trade and finance, science and technology, sustainability and climate, human rights and protecting British interests.
In particular, I look forward to launching the ambitious UK-Swiss Free Trade Agreement negotiations, which will bring together key stakeholders from different industries in both countries, further deepening UK-Swiss bilateral relations. Through a multitude of business and cultural engagements, I hope to learn even more about the UK and Switzerland’s strong connections in multiple sectors. My recent visit to the Banksy exhibition in Zürich was a wonderful reminder of how British art is celebrated in Switzerland!
In addition, by visiting more and more cantons, I hope to meet as many of Switzerland’s residents as possible, including members of the BRA.
I hope to see you at the BRA’s AGM in June.
His Majesty’s Ambassador James Squire