Britain has a new ambassador to the Quirinale, Sir Ivor Roberts. He replaces Sir John Shepherd, who has retired after three years in Italy.

Sir Ivor has been in the British diplomatic service since 1968, starting his career with postings in Lebanon, Paris and Luxembourg, and working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the Eastern European and Soviet Department, the Western European Department and in the European Integration Department.

He worked in Australia between 1978 and 1982, with a temporary posting to Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) during a rebellion, followed by seven years as deputy head of the news department at the FCO and four years at the British embassy in Madrid. In 1994 he moved to Belgrade, becoming ambassador after the United Kingdom recognised the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He comes to Italy from the Republic of Ireland, where he has served as British ambassador since 1999.

High on the new ambassadors agenda is supporting Italy in its presidency of the European Union, particularly with regard to enlargement of the Union and the new constitution.

Sir Ivor comes to Rome with his wife Elizabeth, a former diplomat in the Australian foreign service and a university lecturer in Balkan history.