To determine protocol per guest, first the préséance (that is the order of precedence or rank) of the invited should be settled. Who is ‘important’ for the meeting. This is determined objectively. In the government préséance or rank depends on the extent of the officer’s representation. A Provincial Governor represents more people than a mayor, taking therefore precedence over him/her.
Préséance (rank) per group:
- Royal Family,
- Diplomatic Body,
Préséance (rank) per individual:
For individuals this order of precedence has been settled on the so-called préséance list. In the Netherlands the préséance list is not public, so only part of the Dutch protocol list is as follows:
- President of the International Court of Justice and President of the International Criminal Court,
- Doyen of the Diplomatic Body,
- Chairman First Chamber of the States General and Chairman Second Chamber of the States General,
- Members of the Cabinet,
- Ministers of State,
- Grand Master of and Grand Mistress of H.M. the King and the Chief of the Military House of H.M. the King,
- Secretaries of State,
- Vice-president of the Council of State,
- President and Attorney-General of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands,
- President of the Audit Office,
- National Ombudsman.
Large groups of equal representatives:
If many officials holding equal positions are present, only the most important representative will be seated in the front row for practical reasons. Among equal representatives préséance also applies. In the past the size of a country would determine préséance, whereas now this is:
- The period of service (by seniority),
- or the alphabet.