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The position was held by five men who later would be elected president: John Adams, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Buchanan.

Foreign diplomats in London might be ambassadors to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but they are officially accredited to the Court of St. James.

No monarch has lived in St. James’ Palace since Queen Victoria moved the royal London residence to Buckingham Palace in 1837.

Today, no ambassador presents credentials at the Tudor castle built by Henry VIII. They go to Buckingham Palace to see Queen Elizabeth II.

But when she travels to her other castles in England or Scotland, the court travels with her.

So in a quirky British protocol that demanded a formal seat for the monarchy, the palace where no king or queen lives became the royal court of the realm.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at or @EmbassyRow.