Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington

Major The Right Honourable
The Lord Carrington
KG GCMG CH MC PC DL
Peter Carington 1984.jpg
Carrington in 1984
6th Secretary General of NATO
In office
25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
Preceded byJoseph Luns
Succeeded byManfred Wörner
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
4 May 1979 – 5 April 1982
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byDavid Owen
Succeeded byFrancis Pym
Other ministerial offices
Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
In office
4 March 1974 – 4 May 1979
Leader
Preceded byThe Lord Shackleton
Succeeded byThe Lord Peart
In office
16 October 1964 – 20 June 1970
Leader
Preceded byThe Earl Alexander of Hillsborough
Succeeded byThe Lord Shackleton
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
8 January 1974 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byEric Varley
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
20 June 1970 – 8 January 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byDenis Healey
Succeeded byIan Gilmour
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
1972–1974
LeaderEdward Heath
Preceded byPeter Thomas
Succeeded byWilliam Whitelaw
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Prime MinisterSir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byThe Viscount Hailsham
Succeeded byThe Earl of Longford
Minister without Portfolio
In office
20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Prime MinisterSir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byBill Deedes
Succeeded byGeorge Thomson
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
14 October 1959 – 20 October 1963
Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan
Preceded byThe Earl of Selkirk
Succeeded byThe Earl Jellicoe
High Commissioner to Australia
In office
1956–1959
Prime Minister
Preceded byStephen Holmes
Succeeded bySir William Oliver
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence
In office
1954–1956
Prime Minister
Preceded byNigel Birch
Succeeded byThe Earl of Gosford
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Food
In office
1951–1954
Serving with Richard Nugent
Prime MinisterSir Winston Churchill
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Life peerage
17 November 1999 – 9 July 2018
Hereditary peerage
6 June 1940 – 11 November 1999
Preceded byThe 5th Baron Carrington
Succeeded bySeat abolished
(House of Lords Act 1999)
Personal details
BornPeter Alexander Rupert Carington
(1919-06-06)6 June 1919
Chelsea, London, England
Died9 July 2018(2018-07-09) (aged 99)
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Iona McClean
(m. 1942; d. 2009)
Children3, including Rupert
Parents
Alma materRoyal Military College, Sandhurst
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1939–1949
(inactive from 1945)
RankMajor
UnitGrenadier Guards
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsMilitary Cross

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.

A stone set by Lord Carrington while High Commissioner to Australia, at All Saints' Church, Canberra

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 (then Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) and Alexander Haig (then US Secretary of State) meet during a state visit by Margaret Thatcher to the United States (Feb. 1981)

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.

Later career

Lord Carrington then served as Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. He was also appointed Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George on 1 August 1984, serving until June 1994.

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.

Family

Lord Carrington married Iona McClean (19 March 1920 – 7 June 2009), daughter of Lt.-Colonel Sir Francis Kennedy McClean AFC, on 25 April 1942. They had three children:

  • 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)
  • Hon. Robert Carington (born 1990, heir apparent)
  • Hon. Francesca Carington (born 1993)
  • Hon. Isabella Iona Carington (born 1995)
NATO Secretary General Lord Carrington with West German Foreign Minister Genscher in Bonn, 1984

Lord Carrington's wife, Lady Carrington, died on 7 June 2009, aged 89.

In popular culture

Carrington was a guest on BBC Radio 4's long-running programme Desert Island Discs in 1975 and on the same station's A Good Read in 2004.

In February 1982 Carrington was portrayed by Rowan Atkinson in a Not the Nine O'Clock News parody of Question Time, pedantically discussing an imminent nuclear holocaust.

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

Honours

Lord Carrington, as Chancellor of the Order of the Garter, in procession to St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in 2006

Honorary degrees

Arms

Ancestry

Bibliography

  • Reflect on Things Past – The Memoirs of Lord Carrington. Published by William Collins, 1988.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Listowel
Arthur Champion
Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
1951–1954
Served alongside: Richard Nugent
Succeeded by
Richard Nugent
The Earl St Aldwyn
Preceded by
Nigel Birch
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence
1954–1956
Succeeded by
The Earl of Gosford
Preceded by
The Earl of Selkirk
First Lord of the Admiralty
1959–1963
Succeeded by
The Earl Jellicoe
Preceded by
Bill Deedes
Minister without Portfolio
1963–1964
Succeeded by
George Thomson
Preceded by
The Viscount Hailsham
Leader of the House of Lords
1963–1964
Succeeded by
The Earl of Longford
Preceded by
Denis Healey
Secretary of State for Defence
1970–1974
Succeeded by
Ian Gilmour
New officeSecretary of State for Energy
1974
Succeeded by
Eric Varley
Preceded by
David Owen
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
1979–1982
Succeeded by
Francis Pym
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Stephen Holmes
High Commissioner to Australia
1956–1959
Succeeded by
William Oliver
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Hailsham
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1963–1970
Succeeded by
The Earl Jellicoe
Preceded by
Peter Thomas
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1972–1974
Succeeded by
William Whitelaw
Preceded by
The Lord Windlesham
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1974–1979
Succeeded by
The Lord Soames
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Sherfield
Chancellor of the University of Reading
1992–2007
Succeeded by
John Madejski
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Marquess of Abergavenny
Chancellor of the Order of the Garter
1994–2012
Succeeded by
The Duke of Abercorn
Preceded by
The Earl Jellicoe
Father of the House of Lords
2007–2018
Succeeded by
The Lord Denham
Peerage of Ireland
Preceded by
Rupert Carington
Baron Carrington
2nd creation
1938–2018
Succeeded by
Rupert Carington
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Rupert Carington
Baron Carrington
3rd creation
1938–2018
Member of the House of Lords
(1940–2018)
Succeeded by
Rupert Carington
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington", which is released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.