Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
|Major The Right Honourable|
The Lord Carrington
KG GCMG CH MC PC DL
Carrington in 1984
|6th Secretary General of NATO|
25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
|Preceded by||Joseph Luns|
|Succeeded by||Manfred Wörner|
|Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs|
4 May 1979 – 5 April 1982
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Preceded by||David Owen|
|Succeeded by||Francis Pym|
|Member of the House of Lords|
17 November 1999 – 9 July 2018
6 June 1940 – 11 November 1999
|Preceded by||The 5th Baron Carrington|
|Succeeded by||Seat abolished|
(House of Lords Act 1999)
|Born||Peter Alexander Rupert Carington|
6 June 1919
Chelsea, London, England
|Died||9 July 2018(aged 99)|
(m. 1942; d. 2009)
|Children||3, including Rupert|
|Alma mater||Royal Military College, Sandhurst|
|Years of service||1939–1949|
(inactive from 1945)
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC, PC, DL (6 June 1919 – 9 July 2018) was a British Conservative politician and hereditary peer who served as Defence Secretary from 1970 to 1974, Foreign Secretary from 1979 to 1982, chairman of British General Electric Company from 1983 to 1984, and Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. Before his death in 2018, he was the last surviving member of the 1951–55 government of Winston Churchill, the Eden government, and the Macmillan government, as well as of the cabinets of Alec Douglas-Home and Edward Heath. Following the House of Lords Act 1999, which removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, Carrington was created a life peer as Baron Carington of Upton.
Carrington was Foreign Secretary in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. He took full responsibility for the failure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to foresee this and resigned. As NATO Secretary General, he helped prevent a war between Greece and Turkey during the 1987 Aegean crisis.
Background, education and military career
Born in Chelsea on 6 June 1919, Carrington was the only son of the 5th Baron Carrington by his wife, the Hon. Sybil Marion Colville, a daughter of Charles Colville, 2nd Viscount Colville of Culross. He was a great-nephew of the Liberal statesman Charles Wynn-Carington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire, and also of politician and courtier the Hon. Sir William Carington. Brought up, when a small child, at Millaton House, Devon, he was educated at two independent schools: Sandroyd School from 1928–1932, at the time based in the town of Cobham, Surrey (now the site of Reed's School), and Eton College, followed by the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
Following Sandhurst, Carrington was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards as a second lieutenant on 26 January 1939. He served with the regiment during the Second World War; he was promoted to lieutenant on 1 January 1941, and later rose to the rank of temporary captain and acting major, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) on 1 March 1945. After the war, Carrington remained in the army until 1949.
Political career 1946–1982
In 1938, Carrington succeeded his father as 6th Baron Carrington. Although he became eligible to take his seat in the House of Lords on his 21st birthday in 1940, he was on active service at the time, and did not do so until 9 October 1945. After leaving the Army, he became involved in politics and served in the Conservative governments of Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Food from November 1951 to October 1954. During the Crichel Down affair, which led to the resignation of Minister Thomas Dugdale, Carrington tendered his resignation, which was refused by the Prime Minister. Carrington then became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence from October 1954 to October 1956. The latter year he was appointed High Commissioner to Australia, a post he held until October 1959. He was also appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire on 2 July 1951. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1959.
After his return to Britain he served under Harold Macmillan as First Lord of the Admiralty until October 1963, and was then Minister without Portfolio and Leader of the House of Lords under Alec Douglas-Home until October 1964, when the Conservatives fell from power. From 1964 to 1970 he was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. When the Conservatives returned to power in 1970 under Edward Heath, Carrington became Defence Secretary, where he remained until 1974 when the Conservatives were voted out in favour of Harold Wilson's Labour. In a 1977 letter discussing the policy of torture of Irish republican internees during Operation Demetrius in August 1971, the then Home Secretary Merlyn Rees attributed the origins of the policy in particular to Carrington: '"It is my view (confirmed by Brian Faulkner before his death [NI's prime minister at the time]) that the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/72 was taken by ministers – in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence."
Carrington had become Shadow Defence Secretary in 1968 after Enoch Powell was dismissed from the position following his controversial Rivers of Blood speech on immigration. He also served as Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1972 to 1974, and was briefly Secretary of State for Energy from January to March 1974.
Carrington was again Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords from 1974 to 1979. In 1979 he was made Foreign Secretary and Minister for Overseas Development as part of the first Cabinet of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher spoke very highly of Carrington, stating that "Peter had great panache and the ability to identify immediately the main points in any argument; and he could express himself in pungent terms. We had disagreements, but there were never any hard feelings."
Carrington chaired the Lancaster House conference in 1979, attended by Ian Smith, Abel Muzorewa, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, and Josiah Tongogara, which brought to an end Rhodesia's Bush War. He later expressed his support for Mugabe over Smith. He was Foreign Secretary in 1982 when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Although not immediately responsible, he nevertheless took full responsibility for the complacency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its failures to foresee this development, or rather for the misleading signals the Foreign Office sent under his leadership on British intentions on retaining control over the Falklands/Malvinas, and, on 5 April, resigned; Thatcher was sorry to see him go. Since his resignation, no other member of the House of Lords has held any of the four Great Offices of State.
In 1991, he presided over diplomatic talks about the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and attempted to pass a plan that would end the wars and result in each republic becoming an independent nation.
Apart from his political posts, he was the Chancellor of the University of Reading and served as chairman of several companies, including Christie's, and as a director of many others, including Barclays Bank, Schweppes and the Daily Telegraph. He also chaired the Bilderberg conferences for several years in the late 1990s, being succeeded in 1999 by Étienne Davignon. From 1983 to 2002, he was president of the Pilgrims Society. He was appointed Chancellor of the Order of the Garter on 8 November 1994, a role from which he retired in October 2012.
After the House of Lords Act 1999 removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, Carrington, along with all former Leaders of the House of Lords, was given a life peerage on 17 November 1999 as Baron Carington of Upton, of Upton in the County of Nottinghamshire. He was the longest-serving member of the House of Lords, and following the retirement of Lord Barber of Tewkesbury in 2016, had been the oldest. He was the second longest-serving member of the Privy Council after the Duke of Edinburgh. He died on 9 July 2018, aged 99.
- The Hon. Alexandra Carington DL (Norfolk) (born 1943); married Major Peter de Bunsen in 1965, becoming the Hon. Mrs de Bunsen. They have three children:
- Victoria de Bunsen (born 1968)
- Charles Rupert de Bunsen (born 1970)
- James Peter de Bunsen (born 1973)
- The Hon. Virginia Carington LVO (born 1946); married Henry Cubitt, 4th Baron Ashcombe, in 1973, becoming Lady Ashcombe. The couple divorced in 1979.
- Rupert Francis John Carington, 7th Baron Carrington, DL (Buckinghamshire) (born 1948); married Daniela Diotallevi in 1989. They have three children:
- Hon. Robert Carington (born 1990, heir apparent)
- Hon. Francesca Carington (born 1993)
- Hon. Isabella Iona Carington (born 1995)
Lord Carrington's wife, Lady Carrington, died on 7 June 2009, aged 89.
In popular culture
Carrington was portrayed by James Fox in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's The Falklands Play. He was also briefly portrayed by James Smith in the 2011 film The Iron Lady, and by Jeff Rawle in the 2014 play Handbagged.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
- 6 June 1919 – 11 November 1929: Mr Peter Carington
- 11 November 1929 – 19 November 1938: The Honourable Peter Carington
- 19 November 1938 – 1945: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington
- 1945–1951: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington MC
- 1951–1956: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington MC DL
- 1956–1958: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington MC DL
- 1958–1959: His Excellency The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington KCMG MC DL
- 1959–1983: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington KCMG MC PC DL
- 1983–1985: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington CH KCMG MC PC DL
- 1985–1988: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington KG CH KCMG MC PC DL
- 1988–2018: The Right Honourable The Lord Carrington KG GCMG CH MC PC DL
- Military Cross, 1945
- Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG), 1958
- Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, 1959
- Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH), 1983
- Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (KG), 1985; Chancellor of the Order from 1994
- Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (GCMG), 1988 Chancellor of the Order 1984–94
- Life peerage, as Baron Carington of Upton, 1999
- Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1988
- Freedom of the City of London
- University of Cambridge (LL.D) in 1981.
- University of Essex (DUniv) in 1983.
- University of Reading (DLitt) in December 1989.
- Harvard University (LLD) in 1986.
- University of Nottingham (LLD) in 1993.
- University of Newcastle upon Tyne (DCL) 14 December 1998.
- University of Oxford (DCL) 21 November 2003.
|Ancestors of Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington|
- Reflect on Things Past – The Memoirs of Lord Carrington. Published by William Collins, 1988.
- Announcement of his taking the oath under his new title at the House of Lords House of Lords minutes of proceedings, 17 November 1999
- Lord Carrington's views on the EU from the Daily Telegraph
- Thatcher's First Cabinet
- Imperial War Museum Interview
- NATO Declassified – Lord Carrington (biography)