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Lord Carrington


  • 1919 – Born 6 June into the aristocracy, descended from textile merchants, bankers and MP dating back to the 18th century. Educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. 
  • 1938 – Inherited title as 6th Baron Carrington on the death of his father. Entitled to take his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday (in 1941) but, because he was on active military service, he did so only in 1945.
  • 1939 – Commissioned into the Grenadier Guards, serving with the regiment in Europe during the 2nd World War. Rose to the rank of acting Major and awarded his MC for bravery in leading the first tanks across the bridge at Nijmegen. He remained in the army until 1949.

Political Career

  • 1951 – Elected to Buckinghamshire County Council.
  • 1951-54 – Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the governments of Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden. Offered resignation (not accepted) during Crichel Down affair in 1954.
  • 1954-56 – Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Involved, inter-alia, with policy on Malaya and the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.
  • 1956-59 – High Commissioner to Australia (where his family had extensive interests).
  • 1959-63 – First Lord of the Admiralty, MOD in the government of Harold Macmillan. Modernised the Royal Navy by shifting the emphasis from capital ships to destroyers, frigates and submarines. First nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, into service.
  • 1963-64 – Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the House of Lords under Alec Douglas Home.
  • 1964-70 – Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords after Labour Government comes into power.
  • 1968-70 – Shadow Defence Secretary, following Enoch Powell’s dismissal after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.
  • 1970-74 – Secretary of State for Defence under Edward Heath
  • 1972-74 – Chairman of Conservative Party (appointed Chris Patten as Private Secretary)
  • 1974 – Secretary of State for Energy (January-March) in a new Department to cope with reduction in oil supplies following Arab/Israeli war and threats of miners’ strikes.
  • 1974-79 – Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, after Labour Government comes into power.
  • 1979-82 – Secretary of State for Foreign &Commonwealth Affairs and Minister for Overseas Development under Margaret Thatcher. Chaired Lancaster House talks in 1979 that led to creation of Zimbabwe. Resigned on 5 April 1982 for not anticipating Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands.

Post-resignation Career

  • 1984-88 – Secretary General of NATO
  • 1990 – EU Peace Envoy to Former Yugoslavia (chaired unsuccessful talks 1991)
  • 1993 – Chaired talks on South Africa, trying to mediate between the ANC and the Zulu Inkhata Party, whose disagreements threatened the first multi-racial elections in South Africa.
  • 1999 – Granted Life Peerage as Baron Carington of Upton, after the House of Lords Act 1999 which removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords.

Commercial Appointments

  • 1964-70 – Whilst in Opposition, appointed to the Board of the Australia and New Zealand Bank, becoming chairman in 1967.
  • 1983-84 – Chairman, General Electric Company (GEC)
  • 1988-93 – Chairman, Christie’s International
  • Also appointed to the Boards of Barclays Bank, Schweppes, and the Daily Telegraph amongst others

Academic and Other Posts

  • 1983-02 – President of the Pilgrims Society, set up in 1902 to promote US-UK relations.
  • 1983-88 – Chairman of the Board of the Victoria & Albert Museum
  • 1990-99 – Chairman of the Bilderberg Conference, set up in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to foster US-European relations.
  • 1992-07 – Chancellor of the University of Reading
  • Also many honorary degrees.


  • 1945 – MC -Military Cross
  • 1951 – DL – Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire
  • 1958 – KCMG – Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George (Chancellor of the Order 1984-94)
  • 1959 – PC – Privy Counsellor
  • 1983 – CH – Companion of Honour
  • 1985 – KG – Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (Chancellor of the Order 1994-2012)
  • 1988 – GCMG – Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George
  • 1988 – Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • 1999 – Life Peerage (Baron Carington of Upton, Nottinghamshire)


  • 1942 – Married Iona McCloud (died 2009, aged 89 years), two daughters (Alexandra 1943, Virginia 1946) and son (Rupert 1948)


‘Reflect on Things Past – The Memoirs of Peter Carington’: Collins 1988

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