British consuls 'not a concierge service'

Nov. 10, 2011 at 1:04 AM
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LONDON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- British expatriates and travelers have turned to their consuls for everything from domestic advice to Prince Charles' shoe size, officials said Thursday.

Jeremy Browne, minister for consular affairs, said the list of questions was released to teach travelers what consular offices are -- and are not -- for.

"Our priority is to help people in real difficulty abroad and we cannot do this if our time is diverted by people trying to use us as a concierge service," he said. "We need to be able to focus primarily on helping victims of serious crimes, supporting people who have been detained or assisting people who have lost a loved one abroad."

Consular staff in Spain had to deal with a man who wanted musician Phil Collins' telephone number and another who thought Prince Charles could use a pair of shoes as a birthday present.

A man in Florida sought advice on dealing with ants in a rented vacation home. In Moscow, a woman called the Embassy to complain about a loud buzz in her apartment.

A Dubai resident wanted consular staff to meet his dog at the airport and get the animal through Customs because he planned to be on vacation.

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