The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released details of some of the more interesting enquiries its staff around the world have received, from advice on installing a chicken coop to Prince Charles’ shoe size.
In an attempt to clarify to travellers what its embassies are able to assist with, the Foreign Office has released a few examples of the more bizarre requests made to its staff by British travellers. One man phoned the British Consulate in Sydney for advice on what clothes to pack for an upcoming trip to Australia, and another Brit in Sofia contacted the Consulate to see if they could arrange the sale of his house for him. A lady in Moscow contacted the British Embassy to report a strange buzzing noise in her apartment and requested that a member of staff go investigate the problem for her.
Yet another feckless caller in Spain contacted the Consulate to find out what size shoe Prince Charles takes so they could buy him a pair as a present, while another Brit called the Consulate in Greece for a few tips on how to erect a chicken coop in his garden. The FCO has been forced to set up a dedicated helpline this year to deal with the non-consular enquiries received by consulates and embassies in Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Italy, and is seeking to reduce the number of inappropriate enquiries made by British travellers.
“We will always try to help where we can but there are limits to the support that we can provide,” explained Jeremy Browne, the minister for consular affairs. “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,” he added.