She may seem much too young and full of fun for the job. Simply that she is a woman makes her appointment unusual. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London has appointed Ms Jill Gallard as Britain's next Ambassador to Portugal.
The announcement was made yesterday (Wednesday) although Ms Gallard is not expected to take up her appointment until July. She will be only the second woman to serve as Britain's ambassador to Portugal in the long diplomatic history of the two nations. In a way that is not so surprising considering that politically and diplomatically Portugal is still steeped in male dominance.
The only woman in the post before her was the formidable Dame Glynne Evans, who was in Lisbon between 2004 and 2007. Not only a diplomat but an academic with a special interest in military history, Dame Glynne since her retirement has been a research associate at the Royal United Services Institute and an Advisor to the Director of the Defence Academy in the UK.
Senior female involvement at the Embassy does not end there either. The head of the UK Trade & Investment Section is a woman; the Consul in Lisbon is a woman; and the head of the Corporate Services (Management) Section is also a woman. So is the Director of the British Council in Portugal.
The youthful Mr Ellis obviously not only approved of women occupying high places, he was also one of Britain's first 'digital diplomats' and regular wrote a blog in Portuguese. He was an example of how a younger generation seem to be shedding the stuffy image that once shrouded ambassadors. It is a trend that Ms Gallard looks like continuing.
Still, centuries-old tradition cannot just be thrown to the wind. Commenting on her new job, Ms Gallard said: “I am honoured and delighted to be appointed HM Ambassador to Portugal. I look forward to further developing the deep relationship between the UK and Portugal, the oldest alliance in the world, and to promoting our close partnership, both in the bilateral political and commercial context and in multilateral fora such as the EU, the UN and NATO. Our people and businesses help to maintain these ties in every aspect of life in our two countries.”