Charles Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank

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The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank
General Guthrie.jpg
Guthrie at a NATO defence ministers' meeting
Born (1938-11-17) 17 November 1938 (age 78)
Chelsea, London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1959–2001
Rank Field Marshal
Service number 461440
Unit Welsh Guards
Commands held Chief of the Defence Staff
Chief of the General Staff
British Army of the Rhine
1st British Corps
2nd Infantry Division
4th Armoured Brigade
1st Battalion, Welsh Guards
Battles/wars Operation Banner
Bosnian War
Kosovo War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)

Field Marshal Charles Ronald Llewelyn Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank, GCB, LVO, OBE, DL (born 17 November 1938) was Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army, from 1994 to 1997 and Chief of the Defence Staff from 1997 until his retirement in 2001.

Guthrie's military career saw service with the Welsh Guards and the Special Air Service; he was closely involved in military operations in Northern Ireland and provided advice to the British Government during the Bosnian War and the Kosovo War.

Army career[edit]

Harrow School where Guthrie was educated

Born in Chelsea, London into a Scottish landed family, Guthrie was the elder son of Ronald Guthrie and Nina Guthrie (née Llewelyn).[1][2] He was educated at Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst,[1]

Guthrie was commissioned into the Welsh Guards on 25 July 1959.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 June 1961[4] and captain on 25 July 1965.[5] In 1966 he became a troop commander with 22 Special Air Service Regiment serving in Aden, the Persian Gulf, Malaysia and East Africa and then in 1968 he became a squadron commander with 22 Special Air Service Regiment serving in the Persian Gulf and the United Kingdom.[6] He returned to the Welsh Guards in Münster in 1970 and, following his promotion to major on 31 December 1970,[7] he was given command of a mechanised infantry company in the 1st Battalion.[6] He became Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff in 1973 and, following a year as Second in Command of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in London and Cyprus[6] and having been promoted to lieutenant colonel on 31 December 1975,[8] he became Brigade Major for the Household Division in 1976.[1] In the Jubilee Honours of 1977 he was appointed a Member (fourth class) of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO); on 31 December 1984 this rank was reclassified as Lieutenant (LVO).[9]

He was appointed Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in 1977 in which role he was deployed to Berlin.[1] Promoted to colonel on 31 December 1979,[10] he undertook a tour of duty in Northern Ireland in Spring 1980 for which he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[11] In 1980 he was also briefly Commander of British Forces in the New Hebrides.[1] He then spent two years as Colonel on the General Staff for Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence.[1] Promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1981,[12] he became Brigade Commander of 4th Armoured Brigade in 1982.[1] In 1984 he was made Chief of Staff for 1st British Corps in Bielefeld.[6] Following his appointment as General Officer Commanding (GOC) North East District and Commander 2nd Infantry Division based in York on 18 January 1986,[13] he was given the substantive rank of major general on 31 March 1986.[14]

On 24 November 1987 Guthrie became Assistant Chief of the General Staff at the Ministry of Defence.[15] On 2 October 1989 he was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed GOC 1st British Corps,[16] and, having been appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1990,[17] he relinquished his command on 2 December 1991.[18]

He was appointed Commander of Northern Army Group and British Army of the Rhine on 7 January 1992[19] and, following promotion to (full) general on 14 February 1992,[20] became ADC to the Queen on 13 July 1993.[21] He then became Chief of the General Staff (CGS) on 15 March 1994,[22] being advanced to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1994.[23] As CGS, he was responsible for providing strategic military advice to the British Government on the deployment of troops for the Bosnian War.[24] He went on to become Chief of the Defence Staff on 2 April 1997.[25] In that position, he advised the British Government on the conduct of the Kosovo War.[26] He also warned against a British invasion of Zimbabwe to undertake regime change against Robert Mugabe, saying "Hold hard, you'll make it worse."[27] Guthrie retired from the British Army in 2001.[1]

Lord Guthrie (left) riding in the 2012 Trooping of the Colour as Colonel of the Life Guards

Guthrie was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps on 1 March 1986,[28] Colonel of the Life Guards and Gold Stick-in-Waiting to The Queen on 1 January 1999[29] and Colonel Commandant of the SAS in 2000.[1]

Later career[edit]

Guthrie, after retiring as Chief of the Defence Staff,[1] was one of the several retired Chiefs of Defence Staff who spoke out in the House of Lords about the risk to servicemen facing liability for their actions before the International Criminal Court, particularly in respect to the invasion of Iraq.[30] He was created a Life Peer,[31] as Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank, of Craigiebank in the City of Dundee, in June 2001, and sits as a crossbencher in the House of Lords.[32] However, Guthrie has been criticised by George Monbiot for an alleged lack of understanding of international law. Monbiot based his argument on Guthrie's September 2002 statement for an invasion of Iraq and subsequent comments, in which he appeared to support launching "surprise wars", something forbidden by the United Nations Charter.[33] Guthrie also clashed with Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in 2008 over military funding.[34]

In 2007 Guthrie co-authored a book on Ethics in Modern Warfare with Michael Quinlan, former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.[35][36]

Guthrie was promoted to the honorary rank of field marshal in June 2012.[37][38] Guthrie represented HRH The Prince of Wales at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday 2012 where he was photographed wearing the epaulettes of a field marshal and carrying his field marshal's baton.[39]

Guthrie is a non-executive director of N M Rothschild & Sons, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, Ashley Gardens Block 2 Ltd, Colt Defense LLC, Sciens Capital and Petropavlovsk PLC and non-executive chairman of Siboney Ltd.[40] He is also a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.[41]

Guthrie is President of several charities, including Action Medical Research, the Army Benevolent Fund, Soldier On!,[42] the Federation of London Youth Clubs and the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association.[40] He is a Deputy Lieutenant for Dorset.[1]

A Roman Catholic convert,[43] he became a Knight of Malta[44] and is a Patron of the Catholic homeless charities Cardinal Hume Centre[45] and Caritas Anchor House.[46] He became Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University in July 2013.[47]

He was one of several contributors to a 2013 book on public sector management.[48]

In August 2014, Guthrie was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[49]

Guthrie initially supported the "Remain" campaign during the 2016 referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, but switched to "Leave" less than a week before the vote over concerns that a "European army" might eventually be formed.[50]

His interests include tennis, opera and travel.[1]


Guthrie descends from an ancient Scottish landowning family: his kinsman is David Guthrie, 7th of Craigie. He married, on 11 Sep 1971, Catherine, daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Claude Worrall, Coldstream Guards; they have two sons.[1][31]


Lord Guthrie matriculated his family armorial bearings at the Lyon Office in 1999 (and was granted supporters for life).


Guthrie's honours and decorations include:

Order of the Bath UK ribbon.png Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) 1994 (United Kingdom)[23]
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) 1990 (United Kingdom)[17]
Royal Victorian Order UK ribbon.png Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) 1977 (United Kingdom)[9]
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) 1980 (United Kingdom)[11]
Badge of Honour ribbon.png Badge of Honour 1980 (New Hebrides)[51]
US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Commander Degree of the Legion of Merit 2001 (United States)[52]
Us legion of merit officer rib.png Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)[53]
Ordine di San Gregorio Magno.COMM.PNG Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (KCSG) 2008 (Holy See)[54]
SMOM.svg Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (KM) 1999 (SMOM)[55]
Justicia - Konstantinischer St. Georgs-Orden.png Knight Grand Cross of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (GCJCO) 2013 (House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies)[56]
Gracia - Konstantinischer St. Georgs-Orden.png Knight Commander of Justice of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (KCJCO) 2003 (House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies)[57][58]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  2. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  3. ^ "No. 41826". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 September 1959. p. 6045. 
  4. ^ "No. 42419". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 July 1961. p. 5495. 
  5. ^ "No. 43721". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 1965. p. 7137. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Nato biography". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "No. 45271". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1971. p. 119. 
  8. ^ "No. 46773". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1975. p. 16370. 
  9. ^ a b "No. 47234". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1977. p. 7084. 
  10. ^ "No. 48080". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 January 1980. p. 1438. 
  11. ^ a b "No. 48346". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 October 1980. p. 14607. 
  12. ^ "No. 48852". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1982. p. 157. 
  13. ^ "No. 50426". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 February 1986. p. 1965. 
  14. ^ "No. 50515". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 May 1986. p. 6487. 
  15. ^ "No. 51136". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 November 1987. p. 14769. 
  16. ^ "No. 51890". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 October 1989. p. 11310. 
  17. ^ a b "No. 51981". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1989. p. 2. 
  18. ^ "No. 52732". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 December 1991. p. 18536. 
  19. ^ "No. 52792". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 January 1992. p. 497. 
  20. ^ "No. 52838". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 February 1992. p. 2789. 
  21. ^ "No. 53369". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 July 1993. p. 11759. 
  22. ^ "No. 53645". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 April 1994. p. 5799. 
  23. ^ a b "No. 53696". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1994. p. 2. 
  24. ^ "Transcript of the Press Briefing". NATO. 24 July 1996. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  25. ^ "No. 54726". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 April 1997. p. 4170. 
  26. ^ "UK military briefing on operation allied force". 27 March 1999. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  27. ^ "Lord Guthrie: 'Tony's General' turns defence into an attack". The Independent. 11 November 2007. 
  28. ^ "No. 50452". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 March 1986. p. 3441. 
  29. ^ "No. 55365". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1999. p. 54. 
  30. ^ "Armed Forces: Chain of Command". Hansard. 14 July 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  31. ^ a b "Burkes Peerage". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "No. 56260". The London Gazette. 2 July 2001. p. 7767. 
  33. ^ Monbiot, George (1 January 2008). "How Britain became party to a crime that may have killed a million people". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  34. ^ Thomson, Alice (25 July 2009). "Guthrie attacks Gordon Brown over helicopters for Afghanistan troops". The Times. 
  35. ^ Charles Guthrie and Michael Quinlan (2007). Just War: The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare. Walker. ISBN 9780802717030. 
  36. ^ Richard Norton-Taylor (3 November 2007). "Immoral victories". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "Announcement". AFP. Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  38. ^ "No. 60350". The London Gazette. 7 December 2012. p. 23557. 
  39. ^ Duell, Mark (11 November 2012). "Lest we forget: Queen, Kate and William pay their respects at the Cenotaph as Britain comes to standstill on Remembrance Sunday". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  40. ^ a b "House of Lords: Register of Interests". Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  41. ^ Borger, Julian (8 September 2009). "Nuclear-free world ultimate aim of new cross-party pressure group". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  42. ^ "Our Patrons". Soldier on!. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  43. ^ "General tells pupils about history and leadership". Catholic Herald. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  44. ^ Moreton, Cole (11 November 2008). "Lord Guthrie: 'Tony's General' turns defence into an attack". London: The Independent. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  45. ^ "About Us: Patrons". Cardinal Hume Centre. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  46. ^ "Our Supporters". Caritas Anchor House. 
  47. ^ "SAS veteran Lord Guthrie becomes new Liverpool Hope University chancellor". Liverpool Echo. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  48. ^ Stevenson, Alexander (2013). The Public Sector:Managing the Unmanageable. Kogan Page. ISBN 978-0-7494-6777-7. 
  49. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". 7 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  50. ^ "EU referendum: Ex-army chief Lord Guthrie switches to Leave". BBC News. 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  51. ^ Mackay, James, Editor; Mussell, John W. (2004). The Medal Yearbook 2004. Devon, UK: Token Publishing Ltd. p. 236. ISBN 9781870192620. 
  52. ^ Dod, Charles Roger; Dod, Robert Phipps (2005). Dod's Parliamentary Companion. Vacher Dod Publishing, Limited. p. 599. ISBN 9780905702513. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  53. ^ "Charles Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank". Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  54. ^ "Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 5 Septembris 2008" (PDF). Holy See. Retrieved 18 June 2017. 
  55. ^ "The International Who's Who 2004". Europa Publications. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  56. ^ "New promoted Delegation Knights and Dames invested at London ceremony". Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, Delegation of Great Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  57. ^ "Constantinian Order 2003 - Westminster Cathedral Investiture Ceremony". Constantinian Order at Youtube. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  58. ^ "Announcements: Investiture in Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George". The Times. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Peter Inge
General Officer Commanding 2nd Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Murray Naylor
Preceded by
John MacMillan
Assistant Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Richard Swinburn
Preceded by
Sir Peter Inge
GOC 1st (British) Corps
Succeeded by
Sir Jeremy Mackenzie
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
Command disbanded
Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Roger Wheeler
Chief of the Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Boyce