Christopher Soames, Baron Soames

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Soames
GCMG GCVO CH CBE PC
Governor of Southern Rhodesia
In office
11 December 1979 – 18 April 1980
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Humphrey Gibbs
Succeeded by Canaan Banana (President of Zimbabwe)
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
5 May 1979 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Peart
Succeeded by The Baroness Young
Lord President of the Council
In office
5 May 1979 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Michael Foot
Succeeded by Francis Pym
European Commissioner for External Relations
In office
6 January 1973 – 5 January 1977
President François-Xavier Ortoli
Preceded by Jean-François Deniau
Succeeded by Wilhelm Haferkamp
European Commissioner for Trade
In office
6 January 1973 – 5 January 1977
President François-Xavier Ortoli
Preceded by Ralf Dahrendorf
Succeeded by Wilhelm Haferkamp
British Ambassador to France
In office
September 1968 – 27 October 1972
Preceded by Patrick Reilly
Succeeded by Edward Tomkins
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
11 November 1965 – 13 April 1966
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Preceded by Reginald Maudling
Succeeded by Alec Douglas-Home
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
27 July 1960 – 16 October 1964
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by John Hare
Succeeded by Fred Peart
Secretary of State for War
In office
6 January 1958 – 27 July 1960
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by John Hare
Succeeded by John Profumo
Member of Parliament
for Bedford
In office
23 February 1950 – 31 March 1966
Preceded by Thomas Skeffington-Lodge
Succeeded by Brian Parkyn
Personal details
Born Arthur Christopher John Soames
(1920-10-12)12 October 1920
Penn, United Kingdom
Died 16 September 1987(1987-09-16) (aged 66)
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Mary Churchill

Arthur Christopher John Soames, Baron Soames, GCMG, GCVO, CH, CBE, PC (12 October 1920 – 16 September 1987) was a British politician belonging to the Conservative Party and the son-in-law of Winston Churchill. A European Commissioner and the last Governor of Southern Rhodesia, he had previously been the longtime Member of Parliament for Bedford from 1950 to 1966. He held several government posts and attained Cabinet rank.

Early life[edit]

Soames was born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, England, the son of Captain Arthur Granville Soames (the brother of Olave Baden-Powell, World Chief Guide, both descendants of a brewing family which had joined the landed gentry) by his marriage to Hope Mary Woodbine Parish. His parents divorced while he was a boy, and his mother married as her second husband the 8th Baron Dynevor (a descendant of the 1st and last Earl Talbot), by whom she had further children including Richard Rhys, 9th Baron Dynevor.

Education[edit]

Soames was educated at two independent schools: at West Downs School, a former boys' junior school in the city of Winchester in Hampshire, followed by Eton College, a senior boys' school near Windsor in Berkshire and RMC Sandhurst.[1]

Political career[edit]

After military service in the Second World War, Soames served as the Assistant Military Attaché in Paris. He was the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bedford from 1950 to 1966 and served under Sir Anthony Eden as Under-Secretary of State for Air from 1955 to 1957 and under Harold Macmillan as Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty from 1957 to 1958. In the 1955 Birthday Honours he was invested as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[2]

He served in the Cabinet under Macmillan as Secretary of State for War from 1958 to 1960 and under Macmillan and his successor Sir Alec Douglas-Home as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from 1960 to 1964. In 1958 he was admitted to the Privy Council.

Between 1965 and 1966 Soames was Shadow Foreign Secretary under Edward Heath. In 1968 Harold Wilson appointed him Ambassador to France, where he served until 1972. In 1972 Soames was subsequently made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO),[3] a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG),[4] and a Grand Officer of the French Legion d'Honneur.[5] He was then a Vice-President of the European Commission from 1973 to 1976. He was created a life peer on 19 April 1978 as Baron Soames, of Fletching in the County of East Sussex,[6] and served as the interim Governor of Southern Rhodesia from 1979 to 1980 between the Lancaster House Agreement and that country gaining independence as Zimbabwe. From 1979 to 1981 he was Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords under Margaret Thatcher concurrent with his duties in Rhodesia. In 1980 he was invested as a Companion of Honour. [7]

Family[edit]

Lord Soames married Mary Churchill, the youngest child of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier, on 11 February 1947. They had five children:

Death[edit]

Lord Soames died from pancreatitis, aged 66, and is buried within the Churchill plot at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Papers of Baron Soames". Janus Library, Cambridge. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40497. p. 3269. 9 June 1955.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45554. p. 4. 1 January 1972.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 45713. p. 7689. 27 June 1972.
  5. ^ The Papers of Baron Soames – Website Janus
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 47519. p. 4731. 24 April 1978.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48212. p. 5. 14 June 1980.
  8. ^ "Person Page 10626". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Stevan Pavlowitch, Apologising for the Empire, Oxford University Press, England (1996)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Skeffington-Lodge
Member of Parliament for Bedford
19501966
Succeeded by
Brian Parkyn
Political offices
Preceded by
George Ward
Undersecretary of State for Air
1955–1957
Succeeded by
Ian Orr-Ewing
Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty
1957–1958
Succeeded by
Robert Allan
Preceded by
John Hare
Secretary of State for War
1958–1960
Succeeded by
John Profumo
Preceded by
John Hare
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
1960–1964
Succeeded by
Fred Peart
Preceded by
Reginald Maudling
Shadow Foreign Secretary
1965–1966
Succeeded by
Alec Douglas-Home
New office European Commissioner from the United Kingdom
1973–1977
Served alongside: George Thomson
Succeeded by
Christopher Tugendhat
Succeeded by
Roy Jenkins
Preceded by
Jean-François Deniau
European Commissioner for External Relations
1973–1977
Succeeded by
Wilhelm Haferkamp
Preceded by
Ralf Dahrendorf
European Commissioner for Trade
1973–1977
Preceded by
The Lord Peart
Leader of the House of Lords
1979–1981
Succeeded by
The Baroness Young
Preceded by
Michael Foot
Lord President of the Council
1979–1981
Succeeded by
Francis Pym
Preceded by
Humphrey Gibbs
Governor of Southern Rhodesia
1979–1980
Succeeded by
Canaan Banana
as President of Zimbabwe
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Carrington
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
1979–1981
Succeeded by
The Baroness Young
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Patrick Reilly
British Ambassador to France
1968–1972
Succeeded by
Edward Tomkins