According to the 2020 US Order of Precedence, former governor cearly outranks former ambassador. Former governor is 19d ar 19e (depending on whether or not you are in the state you were governor) where former ambassador is 39d.

Why then is Nikki Haley (who is both a former governor and former ambassador) referred to by the title "Ambassador Haley", rather that "Governor Haley"?

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    Do you have a particular example in mind? Her website seems to use Governor Haley; she was referred to as both Governor and Ambassador in the primary debates, but more commonly Governor. It seems to depend on who is addressing her.
    – CDJB
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:47
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    @CDJB I'm thinking in particular of the primary debates, but I have seen it in news coverage as well. Here's a transcript of Face of The Nation thin month where she was referred to as "Ambassador": cbsnews.com/news/…
    – Zags
    Commented Feb 28 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


At the time of Haley's ambassadorship, U.N. ambassador was a considered a Cabinet-level position. It was downgraded after her exit:

WASHINGTON — The role of United Nations ambassador will once again be a non-Cabinet position following Nikki Haley's exit, a senior administration official and a source with direct knowledge tell NBC News.


The role of U.N. ambassador has come and gone from the Cabinet over the years, strictly at the discretion of individual presidents. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama included the UN ambassador in their Cabinets, while George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush did not.

Haley argued for the U.N. ambassador to remain in the Cabinet after she was nominated for the position by Trump.

This introduces some ambiguity. While former ambassador ranks below former governor by a country mile, former Cabinet is slightly above it, 19b vs. 19d. So it would be defensible to call Haley by her rank while she was in the Cabinet, which was "Ambassador."

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    It's worth noting that this is an area where the etiquette is changing. There are plenty of old sources which would say that jobs where only one person holds a post at a time (including Ambassadors, Governors and US Presidents) won't keep the the title after they are replaced.
    – origimbo
    Commented Feb 28 at 15:57

There's two reasons she wouldn't balk at "Ambassador" over "Governor".

The first is that it was her most recent political endeavor. Haley was South Carolina governor from 2011-2017, when she accepted the role of UN Ambassador. She served in that role until 2018, when she abruptly resigned. It was also a move from a state position to a national one.

The second is that it highlights her standing within the Trump administration. For an administration with lots of back-biting and vitriol, Haley left on relatively good terms with Trump

Sitting side-by-side in the Oval Office, Trump praised Haley as a “fantastic person” who has “done an incredible job” and said he would gladly welcome her back into his administration down the line.

“She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together. We’ve solved a lot of problems and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems,” Trump said.

And later

“We’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose – hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point but in a different capacity. You can have your pick,” Trump said as Haley smiled broadly.

Haley needs Trump supporters if she is to win the nomination and/or the Presidency. Reminding them of her role with Trump doesn't hurt.

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    I would think "Ambassador" would also infer a certain level of standing with the international community, while "Governor" might cause some people to view a person as a state-level player. Also she might feel it makes her stand out when there's also talk of a Governor Newsom and a Governor DeSantis swirling around the GOP hopefuls.
    – spuck
    Commented Mar 1 at 0:16

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