Consul General discusses tea, royals and all things British
R achel Galloway, His Majesty King Charles’ Consul General to the United States, spent an afternoon and evening at Georgia College & State University this week meeting with students, faculty and community leaders about leadership and her role as an ambassador.
While here, she also enjoyed talking about things that fascinate Americans about Britain, like the monarchy and royal family; what we have in common—history, music, military partnership—and excitement generated by sports like the World Cup.
Oh, and tea.
When senior mass communication major Elizabeth Newlin of Hoschton, Georgia, asked Galloway how she liked Southern Sweet Tea, the ambassador laughed heartily.
She’s been at the British Consulate in Atlanta since July 2022 but admitted “I just can’t get past it psychologically. I always think, ‘Oh, my tea’s gone cold’ and then, ‘It happened again.’”
The Leadership Programs at Georgia College sponsored Galloway’s visit.
After meeting with Milledgeville city officials, members of the media, GCSU President Cathy Cox and Provost Costas Spirou, Galloway spoke at the university’s Usery Forum on Leadership.
The Usery Forum is Georgia College’s presentation-discussion series on leadership. Named in honor of W. J. Usery, the 15th U.S. Secretary of Labor, it explores leadership that brings people together, bridges division, finds value in new perspectives and showcases innovation and service.
About 150 faculty, students and staff attended the forum. Afterwards, Galloway had dinner with a dozen students from the leadership program.
“We were deeply honored to host Consul-General Rachel Galloway at Georgia College,” said Dr. Harold Mock, director of Leadership Programs. “She brings, of course, her expertise in world politics, diplomacy and leadership. But she also gave deeply of her insights practiced over a career of public service and gathered from rich experiences across the globe.”
“I am especially grateful for her insights on how we can build relationships beyond our differences,” he said, “and communicate productively with those with whom we might disagree.”
Good leadership is about recognizing what people have in common, as well as their differences, Galloway said. By talking and listening to each other, she is confident people can work together.
From 2018 to 2022, Galloway served as the late Queen Elizabeth II’s ambassador to the Republic of North Macedonia. At the time, that territory wanted to change its name to allow membership in NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Galloway helped strengthen diplomatic relations in the region by working closely with Americans and Europeans.
“Once they came to an agreement,” Galloway said, “they were able to join NATO. They are an ally of the West. They’re a friend of the United States and United Kingdom. We want our friends to be with us in NATO.”
“And, of course, while I was there,” she said, “Russia invaded Ukraine. People in North Macedonia woke up that morning and thought, ‘We’re in NATO.’ That means something. It was really important to them.”
Galloway was only four weeks into her new job as Consul General in Atlanta when Queen Elizabeth II died. It was a tough situation for her, especially being far from home.
The British Consulate had a book where people could sign their condolences.
But it’s a trip to the grocery store that stands out most in Galloway’s memory.
“It was quite a sort of personal warming experience to actually see how supportive and caring people were,” she said. “A gentleman came up to me in the Kroger and said, ‘You’re British,’ and he took my hand and said he was so sorry about the Queen. It happened again and again, you know, people genuinely sharing their relationship with me about the UK, because they could hear my accent.”
As generations go by, fewer and fewer young people have personal experience or knowledge of Winston Churchill, World War II (WWII), the Beatles and other things culturally British.
These days, young women are likely to recall styling themselves after Kate Middleton, the current Princess of Wales. Most recently, people may have seen the hit Netflix series, “The Crown.” Galloway still find it surprising how popular the monarchy is in the U.S. and how many magazines sport pictures of the royal family.
Along with assisting British nationals with consular affairs in the U.S. Southeast, Galloway’s biggest goal is to introduce a new generation of Americans to the UK. She emphasizes our special relationship and common heritage, language, interest in writers like Shakespeare and Milton and military alliance in war and peace.
“Really, it’s about building these relationships, and another really important element is building relationships between universities,” she said, “so young people can have the experience of knowing about the UK.”
She pointed to the Marshall Scholarship, set up as a thank you to the United States after WWII. It’s one way students can get funds to attend university in Britain. Georgia College alumnus Kevin Morris received the scholarship in 2019 to study at the London School of Economics.
“We want more to come. We want more to apply from the U.S.,” Galloway said. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve come to talk to the students. To tell them about the UK and about opportunities, because we want those students to come back to America to work and use what they’ve learned and have a lifelong relationship with the UK.”