Nicholas Henderson

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Sir Nicholas Henderson
GCMG, KCVO
British Ambassador to
the United States
In office
1979–1982
President Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Peter Jay
Succeeded by Oliver Wright
British Ambassador to
France
In office
1975–1979
President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by Edward Tompkins
Succeeded by Reginald Hibbert
British Ambassador to
West Germany
In office
1972–1975
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Harold Wilson
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt
Preceded by Frank Roberts
Succeeded by Oliver Wright
British Ambassador to
Poland
In office
1969–1972
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Edward Heath
Preceded by Thomas Brimelow
Succeeded by Frank Brenchley
Personal details
Born 1 April 1919
Died 16 March 2009
Nationality British

Sir (John) Nicholas Henderson, GCMG KCVO (1 April 1919 – 16 March 2009) was a distinguished[1] British career diplomat and writer, who served as British Ambassador to the United States from 1979 to 1982.

Life and career[edit]

Educated at Stowe School and Hertford College, Oxford, he joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1946 and rose to become Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary in 1963. Subsequently he served as British Ambassador to Poland, Germany and France. He retired in 1979 but, on the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in May of that year, she invited him to return to service as Ambassador to Washington, where he served until 1982. Mrs Thatcher had first asked Edward Heath to take up the post, but he had refused the offer.

Upon retiring (as he thought) from the foreign service in 1979 when relinquishing his post in Paris, he wrote a final dispatch titled "Britain's decline; its causes and consequences". The Economist magazine obtained a copy and printed it in the same year stating "The despatch does not, needless to say, reach us from him and was presumably written for very limited circulation. But it is so unusually forthright and timely, particularly in its middle and concluding passages on British policy in Europe, under governments of every stripe, as to merit publication virtually in full." [2]

Henderson was enormously popular in Washington, and he and his wife Mary formed a close personal friendship with President Ronald Reagan at a crucial time in the latter's presidency, oiling the special friendship which developed between Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

In retirement, Henderson wrote several books on history, and an account of his career as a diplomat, Mandarin. He held directorships of several major British companies, including the Channel Tunnel Group, Sotheby's, and Hambros. He also had close ties with the Prince of Wales, serving as Lord Warden of the Stannaries and Chairman of the Prince's Council (the body which oversees the Duchy of Cornwall) after retiring from the Diplomatic Service. He was appointed KCVO for this service to the Crown. He gave the Romanes Lecture in Oxford in 1986.

His father was Sir Hubert Henderson, a prominent political economist and holder of the Drummond Professor of Political Economy seat at Oxford University. His mother was Faith Marion Jane Bagenal.

In 1951, Henderson married Mary Barber (née Cawadias), a Greek-born former war correspondent for Time-Life.[3][4] She died in 2004. Their only child, Alexandra Nicolette, married the photographer Derry Moore, now the 12th Earl of Drogheda. As Alexandra Henderson, she has followed a career as a television and radio producer specialising in current affairs.

He was generally known as "Nicko (sp. "Nico" in Lady Thatcher's memoirs) Henderson" in private life.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Prince Eugen of Savoy. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, (1966). ISBN 1-84212-597-4
  • The Birth of NATO, 1982
  • The Private Office, 1984
  • Channels and Tunnels: Reflections on Britain and Abroad (1987)
  • Diplomatic Immunity: Principles, Practices, Problems by Grant McClanahan with a foreword by Sir Nicholas Henderson (Hurst & Co. for the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, 1989). ISBN 1-85065-043-8
  • Mandarin, The Diary, 1994
  • Old Friends and Other Instances, 2000
  • The Private Office Revisited, 2001

In popular culture[edit]

Henderson was portrayed by Jeremy Clyde in the 2002 BBC production of Ian Curteis's controversial The Falklands Play.

Diplomatic Posts and Offices[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Oliver Wright
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

1963-1965
Succeeded by
Murray, The Lord MacLehose of Beoch
Preceded by
Ian Samuel
Minister at the
British Embassy, Madrid

1965–1969
Succeeded by
Thomas Keeble
Preceded by
Thomas, The Lord Brimelow
British Ambassador
to Poland

1969–1972
Succeeded by
Frank Brenchley
Preceded by
Sir Roger Jackling
British Ambassador
to West Germany

1972–1975
Succeeded by
Sir Oliver Wright
Preceded by
Sir Edward Tompkins
British Ambassador
to France

1975–1979
Succeeded by
Sir Reginald Hibbert
Preceded by
Peter Jay
British Ambassador
to the United States

1979–1982
Succeeded by
Sir Oliver Wright
Court offices
Preceded by
Peter, The Marquess of Lothian
Lord Warden of the Stannaries
1985–1990
Succeeded by
John, The Lord Ashburton

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Times obituary (printed version)". The Times. March 17, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Britain's decline; its causes and consequences" The Economist Jun 2nd 1979
  3. ^ HENDERSON, Sir (John) Nicholas, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2009, accessed 6 March 2012
  4. ^ Xenia, the Greek spirit personified, The Telegraph, London, 17 February 2004

External links[edit]