The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office, is a department of the British Government. It is responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide. It was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.
The head of the FCO is the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly abbreviated to "Foreign Secretary" (currently Philip Hammond). This position is regarded as one of the four most prestigious appointments in the Cabinet, alongside those of Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary. Together with the Prime Minister, these are the Great Offices of State.
The FCO is managed from day-to-day by a civil servant, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who also acts as the Head of the Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service. This position has been held by Sir Simon Fraser since late August 2010.