Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, KG, GCMG, CH, MC, PC, DL (born 6 June 1919) is a British Conservative politician who served as Defence Secretary between 1970 and 1974, Foreign Secretary between 1979 and 1982, chairman of General Electric between 1983 and 1984, and Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. He is the last surviving member of the 1951–55 government of Winston Churchill, and of the Cabinets of Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home. 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, of Upton in the County of Nottinghamshire.
Carrington was Foreign Secretary in 1982 when the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina. He took full responsibility for the failure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to foresee this and resigned. As Secretary General of NATO, he helped prevent a war between Greece and Turkey in 1987.
Background, education and military career
Carrington is 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 is 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. He was educated at two independent schools: Sandroyd School from 1928–1932, at the time based in the town of Cobham, Surrey, 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 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 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 Ministry of Agriculture and Food from November 1951 to October 1954 and to the Ministry of Defence from October 1954 to October 1956. The latter year Carrington 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 following the dismissal of Enoch Powell 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 "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." He chaired the Lancaster House conference in 1979, attended by Ian Smith, Abel Muzorewa, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, and Josiah Tongogara, which brought to end Southern Rhodesia's civil war, the Second Chimurenga or 'Rhodesian Bush War'. He would later express his support for Mugabe over Smith. He was Foreign Secretary in 1982 when the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina. He took full responsibility for the complacency and failures in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to foresee this development and resigned. Ministerial resignations in such circumstances are rare, and Carrington's attracted animated press discussion of the principles involved; it may be no coincidence that he had in 1954 been junior minister to Thomas Dugdale at the time of the latter's landmark resignation as Minister of Agriculture over the Crichel Down affair, and had then himself offered his resignation but been persuaded to withdraw it.
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 has 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 is the longest-serving member of the House of Lords, and since the retirement of Lord Barber of Tewkesbury in 2016, has been the oldest. He is the second longest-serving member of the Privy Council after The Duke of Edinburgh.
- 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.
- The Hon. Rupert Francis John Carington DL (Buckinghamshire) (born 1948) – heir apparent; married Daniela Diotallevi in 1989. They have three children:
- Robert Carington (born 1990)
- Francesca Carington (born 1993)
- Isabella Iona Carington (born 1995)
In popular culture
Carrington was referenced on the 6th series of Peep Show (2009) in a list of imagined dog names by Mark.
Titles, styles, honours, and arms
Titles and styles
- 6 June 1919 – 1929: Mr Peter Carington
- 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–present: 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
- Medal of Honour, for his contribution regarding Serbian war crimes committed against civilians in Croatia (especially in the Vukovar massacre and rough displacement of citizens), 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|
- The surname "Carington" (with one "r") was adopted by royal licence dated 1839 by his direct male ancestor Robert John Smith, 2nd Baron Carrington, in lieu of Smith. The latter's father Robert Smith, MP for Nottingham, was created "Baron Carrington" (with two "r"s) in 1796 (Peerage of Ireland), 1797 (Peerage of Great Britain)(Kidd, Charles, Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage, 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.220)
- The London Gazette: . 23 November 1999. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
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- The London Gazette: . 27 January 1939. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 14 February 1941. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 14 February 1941. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 10 December 1946. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 10 June 1949. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 1 July 1949. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 6 July 1951. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- 'List of current Privy Counsellors'
- The London Gazette: . 3 November 1959. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 11 December 1959. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 26 February 1960. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 27 May 1960. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 13 January 1961. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 7 April 1961. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 29 September 1961. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 3 November 1961. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 5 January 1962. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 1 February 1963. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 19 February 1963. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 17 May 1963. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
The London Gazette: . 9 August 1963. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- 'British ministers sanctioned torture of NI internees' (5 June 2014)
- 'British government authorised use of torture methods in NI in early 1970s' (5 June 2014)
- "Powell's 'rivers of blood' legacy". BBC News. 18 April 2008.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (HarperCollins, 1993), p. 27.
- Holland, Heidi (February 2009). Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant. London: Penguin Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-14-104079-0.
- The London Gazette: . 3 August 1984. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Court Circular". Independent. 10 June 1994.
- Rockefeller, David (2002). Memoirs. Random House. p. 412. ISBN 0-679-40588-7.
- Who's Who. 1999.
- "Centennial History". www.pilgrimsociety.org.
- The London Gazette: . 8 November 1994. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 17 October 2012.
- "Lady Carrington". The Daily Telegraph. London. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- The London Gazette: . 3 June 1958. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 10 June 1983. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 26 April 1985. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 10 June 1988. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 7 June 1994. Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- "Honorary degrees conferred 1977" (PDF).
- "Calendar of the University of Essex – Former Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, Emeritus Professors, Emeritus Librarians, Honorary Fellows and Honorary Graduates of the University". Essex.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- "Lord Carrington – Chancellor of the University of Reading – University of Reading". Rdg.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- "honorary graduates of the university of reading – University of Reading". Rdg.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- "Harvard University Commencement | Some honorary degree recipients". Commencement.harvard.edu. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- Archived 7 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Home Page – Alumni Association – Newcastle University". Ncl.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- Archived 14 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Kidd, Charles, Debrett's peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.220, with existing addition of "couped", although demi-lions usually shown couped not erased
- Chesshyre, Hubert (1996), The Friends of St. George's & Descendants of the Knights of the Garter Annual Review 1995/96, VII, p. 287
- Kidd, Charles, Debrett's peerage & Baronetage 2015 Edition, London, 2015, p.220, amended by existing text adding further clarity, namely "on the body". The charges are here not shown palewise (in a vertical column) as in the blazon. Debrett's blazon makes no mention of beaked etc., or as depicted
- Burke, John. A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage... London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley, 1832. Volume 1, p. 217. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- 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