Interview With Her Excellency Evelyne Genta, Monegasque Ambassador to the United Kingdom
On the 12th of May 2023, I had the honour of interviewing Her Excellency Evelyne Genta. We talked about her role and responsibilities as a diplomat, Monaco and the world, the economy, and cultural aspects.
Her Excellency Evelyne Genta is the Ambassador of the Principality of Monaco to the United Kingdom. She is the wife of the late Gerald Genta, prominent and accredited for his watch designs. After spending years as an outstanding business leader travelling the world, Genta sold the business and stepped into her career as a diplomat.
Today, she is passionately engaging in a multitude of diverse endeavours ranging from cultural promotion and exchange to environmental efforts, the advancement of economic growth and the overseeing of processes of settlement between Monaco and the UK.
D: What inspired you to become an ambassador, and what was the process of becoming one?
EG: I took an unusual path since I got here coming from the private sector. We sold our business, and our daughter pursued an education in the UK. As Gerald moved to London with the family, the Prince of Monaco was looking for representation of Monaco in London, there was no embassy those days – and so he asked me.
D: What challenges have you faced during your term as an ambassador?
EG: Monaco has no political issues with the UK or any other countries really – it’s a challenge to change the perception of Monaco to the British public. Culturally speaking, we house sophisticated ballet dancing and an excellent orchestra. Monaco is a place where people do work, a place that is regulated and that is important because there are many tax-friendly countries, but Monaco also plays by the rules.
D: What have been some of your most memorable experiences while representing Monaco?
EG: Meeting the Queen. No brainer, definitely. I moved to the UK when I was 12 – my dog had to be quarantined for 6 months as it was the procedure back then. I missed my dog, so I wrote to the Queen and Buckingham actually wrote back, the Queen replied. That was the first time I came into contact with Her Majesty. I remember her as an inspiration, so gentle, so kind.
D: What has been the most rewarding aspect of this career?
EG: People. The rewarding aspect for me is meeting extraordinary people, such as Ambassadors. It’s always good to learn about other people’s countries and their challenges, fostering a real sense of interest. We need to talk to everybody and can’t leave everything to social media. All channels of communication have to remain open, the next generation will definitely face challenges in this context.
D: What do you believe are the most important challenges of successful diplomacy?
EG: First of all, try to learn as much as you can about the country as we need to inform ourselves. Also, cultivate your relationships, one day we might need those people and they might need you, so take care of your address book.
D: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in diplomacy?
EG: You should learn about all the different aspects of a country, and don’t disregard economic aspects. Diplomacy is not like in the olden days when letters took ages between Paris and Saint Petersburg. Today we regularly have presidents talking to presidents and ambassadors to ambassadors. As the ambassador role has become increasingly diplomatic, we need to understand different countries’ positions and the economy in the pursuit of what we can do for the said country and the one we represent. Our channels today are so direct and have to remain that way.
D: In what ways does the embassy promote Monaco’s foreign policy?
EG: The priority is explaining who we are. People mainly know about the Grand Prix and tennis. Monaco is very small. But it is a country with a seat at the UN, a participant of the Conseil de l’Europe, the International Maritime Organisation. It’s a proper country with a government, regulated by the Conseil National; we have a different passport, flag and nationality.
D: What is the embassy’s function in Monaco’s aspiration to promote its culture and values abroad?
EG: Culture is very important; we have a very vibrant culture for such a small place. Ever since the establishment of our national ballet, it has never stopped and now performs all over the world, like in China or even at the Bolshoi Theatre, not to mention the fantastic philharmonic orchestra. For the size of the country, the culture is huge. The people who live there know it. But we need to get away from all the glitter.
D: What initiatives has the Monegasque embassy taken to promote economic development and growth?
EG: We’re trying to get younger residents and people in tech. People who want to live and work in Monaco, since older people often retire and have already sold their businesses. I’m talking about couples with children who attend our schools, 30-40-year-olds that expand the tech industry – tech companies, importantly, don't need the space that large-scale manufacturing does! Our job is to settle new families, as we have a good environment, good weather and great infrastructure. Nice airport takes you everywhere in the world.
D: Have you been able to incorporate your past experiences and business expertise into your diplomatic engagements; and if yes, how would you say has this contributed to your work?
EG: Yes, of course. My previous job was in the watch business, and clients were therefore quite exclusive. Therefore, working in the diplomatic sector is like a continuation really. My husband wanted to sell excellence through his designs and watches, today I want to sell the excellence of Monaco being a very special place.
D: Being the president of the UK Branch of the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, how do you and the embassy support the environmental mission of H.S.H. Prince Albert II?
EG: We mostly try to do fundraising, in joint efforts with other UK charities and team-based projects. Usually regarding water, we’re working closely with universities we have partnerships with.
D: As a self-proclaimed “anglophile”, what do you feel are the most important elements in the diplomatic relationship between Monaco and the UK?
EG: I think our residents who come from the UK play an important factor. The Brits being Brits fit in and join, if not start a new club themselves. They’re the “easiest” ex-pats, after a few years they’re home. The Brits have always been a part of the world; they very easily assimilate into Monaco which holds profoundly positive significance.
D: As it is the embassy’s, respectively your personal mission to promote all the diverse aspects of Monaco and to help the public get a truer perception of the Principality – What is one thing you think would surprise someone about Monaco?
EG: I would say how easy it is to get around. In fact, if you know your way around, there are lifts taking you to all the different platforms. It’s very cleverly done; it’s very cleverly done because it’s small. Also, the notable aspects of security. You can walk around without ever being scared, even if you’re a woman or wearing jewellery. It’s a lovely feeling.
D: What would you be doing if you weren’t currently the ambassador of Monaco to the UK?
EG: I would probably focus on watches.
D: Looking at your incredibly rich experience, what is the most important lesson you have learnt?
EG: It is important that you need to actually meet people and always give them a chance. I see every person as a whole new world, an adventure if you might say. I am passionate about people and am worried that young people care about social media too much. It’s only a singular aspect of our lives, not the whole world. We’re so connected but alone, we only see what corresponds to us. We live in little bubbles. I learnt about the need for active exchange and exposing ourselves to different perspectives.
D: I would like to conclude the interview at this point and thank you very much for your time and your insights.