George Walden

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George Gordon Harvey Walden CMG (born 15 September 1939) is a British journalist, former diplomat and former politician for the Conservative Party, serving as Minister for Higher Education 1985-87.


Walden was educated at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, London, at Jesus College, Cambridge, and post-graduate at Moscow University. During his time in the diplomatic service he studied Chinese at the University of Hong Kong 1965–67, spent a year at the École nationale d'administration (ÉNA, then located in Paris) 1973–74, and a sabbatical year at Harvard 1981–82.


Walden joined the Foreign Office in 1962 and worked there as a researcher until 1965 when he went to Hong Kong to study Chinese. After that he was posted as Second Secretary in the office of the British Chargé d'Affaires in Peking 1967–70 (there was no ambassador at that time). As First Secretary he was at the Soviet Desk in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 1970–73 (during which he was formally appointed an Officer in the Diplomatic Service[1]) and, after his year at ÉNA, at the British Embassy in Paris 1974–78. He was then appointed Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, serving David Owen and Lord Carrington, for which he was decorated CMG in the New Year Honours of 1981.[2] After his sabbatical at Harvard he was head of the planning staff at the FCO 1982–83, and then left the Diplomatic Service to stand for Parliament.


Walden was elected as the MP for Buckingham at the 1983 general election. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, Sir Keith Joseph, 1984–85 and Minister for Higher Education 1985–1987. He was re-elected in 1987 and 1992 and retired from parliament at the 1997 general election.


Walden wrote a column for the Evening Standard 1991–2002 and now writes for various papers as a guest columnist.



In 1970 George Walden married the art historian Sarah Hunt, daughter of Dr Thomas Hunt, physician to Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and Anthony Eden. Her sister, Marigold, married the historian Paul Johnson.[3] They have two sons and a daughter, the journalist, novelist and critic Celia Walden.[4]


  1. ^ The London Gazette, 1 February 1972
  2. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 31 December 1980
  3. ^
  4. ^ My Mentor: Celia Walden on George Walden The Independent, 4 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 April 2009)

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ewen Fergusson
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

Succeeded by
Brian Fall
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Benyon
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
Succeeded by
John Bercow