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Oliver Wright

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Sir John Oliver Wright, GCMG GCVO DSC 6 March 1922 – 1 September 2009 was a British diplomat He was British Ambassador to West Germany from 1975 to 1981 and British Ambassador to the United States from 1982 to 1986


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Military service
  • 3 Diplomatic career
  • 4 Later life
  • 5 Honours and decorations
  • 6 Offices held
  • 7 References

Early life

Wright was born on 6 March 1921 in Hammersmith, London, England He was the younger son of Arthur Wright, a catering manager and hotelier, and his wife, Ethel Louisa Hicks, née Shearod The family moved from London to the West Midlands when Wright was very young He was educated at Solihull School, then an all-boys independent school in Solihull, West Midlands He won a scholarship to Christ's College, Cambridge There, he studied modern languages and specialised in German and French Following graduation, he joined the military for service during World War II

His studies were interrupted by World War II He served in the Royal Naval Reserve 1941–45 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross Following his service he took and passed the Foreign Office exam, thus was accepted to Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service

Military service

In 1941, having completed his university degree, Wright joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Diplomatic career

Wright's career as a Diplomat was a highly distinguished one:

  • New York City 1946–47
  • Bucharest 1948–50
  • Singapore 1950–51
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1952–54
  • Berlin 1954–56
  • Pretoria 1957–58
  • Imperial Defence College 1959
  • Assistant Private Secretary to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1960
  • Counsellor and Private Secretary for Foreigh Affairs 1963
  • Private Secretary to the Prime Minister 1964–66 to Rt Hon Sir Alec Douglas-Home and subsequently to Rt Hon Harold Wilson
  • Ambassador to Denmark 1966–69
  • Deputy Home Office Representative to Northern Irish Government Aug 1969-Mar 1970
  • Chief Clerk, Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service 1970–72
  • Deputy Under-Secretary of State, FCO 1972–75
  • Ambassador to Federal Republic of Germany 1975–81
  • Retired from Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service
  • Re-appointed, Ambassador to Washington DC 1982–86

Having retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1981, he was elected Master of Christ's College, Cambridge He would have become the new Master in 1982, but was recalled to the Diplomatic Service to become British Ambassador to the United States and therefore never took up the appointment

Later life

On 1 January 1987, Wright was appointed King of Arms of the Order of St Michael and St George This appointment is the herald, one of six officers, of the Order of St Michael and St George In July 1996, he was succeeded in the appointment by Sir Ewen Fergusson

Honours and decorations

On 1 December 1964, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George CMG for his services as Private Secretary to Alec Douglas-Home from 1960 to 1964 On 26 May 1978, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order GCVO Knight Grand Cross is the highest grade within the Royal Victorian He was appointed GCVO following the state visit under taken by Queen Elizabeth II to West Germany between 22 and 26 May 1978

  • Distinguished Service Cross DSC 1944
  • Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George KCMG 1974
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George GCMG 1981

Offices held

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ian Samuel
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

Succeeded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
Preceded by
Sir John Henniker-Major
British Ambassador
to Denmark

Succeeded by
Sir Murray MacLehose
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
British Ambassador
to West Germany

Succeeded by
Sir John Taylor
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
British Ambassador
to the United States

Succeeded by
Sir Antony Acland


  1. ^ A & C Black 2009 "WRIGHT, Sir John Oliver" Who Was Who, online edition Oxford University Press Retrieved 2012-05-02 
  2. ^ a b Whitehead, John January 2013 "Wright, Sir John Oliver 1921–2009" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press Retrieved 11 May 2015 
  3. ^ Palliser, Sir Michael 22 September 2009 "Sir Oliver Wright: Diplomat who served under two Prime Ministers in Downing Street and as ambassador to the US" The Independent Retrieved 11 May 2015 
  4. ^ a b "Sir Oliver Wright" The Daily Telegraph 6 September 2009 Retrieved 11 May 2015 
  5. ^ "Sir Oliver Wright GCMG GCVO DSC" Christ's College, Cambridge Retrieved 12 May 2015 
  6. ^ "No 50791" The London Gazette 2 January 1987 p 16959 
  7. ^ "No 54471" The London Gazette 19 July 1996 p 9759 
  8. ^ "No 43502" The London Gazette Supplement 27 November 1964 p 10229 
  9. ^ "No 47567" The London Gazette 13 June 1978 p 7147 

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