John Ure (diplomat)

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Sir John Burns Ure KCMG LVO FRGS (born 5 July 1931) is a retired British diplomat, ambassador to Cuba, Brazil and Sweden, and an author.


John Ure was educated at Uppingham School. After active service as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) in Malaya, 1950–51, he read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge before joining the Foreign Service in 1956. Besides various posts at the Foreign Office he was 3rd Secretary (and private secretary to the Ambassador), Moscow, 1957–59; 2nd Secretary, Léopoldville, 1962–63; First Secretary (Commercial), Santiago, 1967–70; Counsellor, and intermittently Chargé d'Affaires, Lisbon, 1972–77; Ambassador to Cuba 1979–81; Ambassador to Brazil 1984–87 and Ambassador to Sweden 1987–91. During his career he attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

After retiring from the Diplomatic Service, Sir John was a non-executive director of companies including Thomas Cook and Sotheby's Scandinavia, and served on the council of the Royal Geographical Society of which he is a Life Fellow.

John Ure was made LVO in 1968, CMG in 1980 and knighted KCMG in 1987. In 1973 he was made a Commander in the Portuguese Military Order of Christ.

In Who's Who, John Ure gives his recreation as "Travelling uncomfortably in remote places and writing about it comfortably afterwards."



  • Ure, John (1973). Cucumber sandwiches in the Andes. London: Constable. 
  • Prince Henry the Navigator, Constable, London, 1977. ISBN 0094612404
  • The Trail of Tamerlane, Constable, London, 1980. ISBN 0094633509
  • The Quest for Captain Morgan, Constable, London, 1983. ISBN 0094652600
  • Trespassers on the Amazon, Constable, London, 1986. ISBN 0094665001
  • Royal Geographic Society History of World Exploration (Central and South America sections), Hamlyn, London, 1991. ISBN 0600568199
  • A Bird on the Wing: Bonnie Prince Charlie's flight from Culloden retraced, Constable, London, 1992. ISBN 0094698902
  • Diplomatic bag: an anthology of diplomatic incidents and anecdotes from the Renaissance to the Gulf War (ed.), John Murray, London, 1994. ISBN 0719548268
  • The Cossacks, Constable, London, 1999. ISBN 0094774005
  • In search of nomads: an English obsession from Hester Stanhope to Bruce Chatwin, Constable, London, 2003. ISBN 1841193089
  • Pilgrimage: the great adventure of the Middle Ages, Constable, London, 2006. ISBN 1841197866
  • contribution to The Seventy Great Journeys in History (ed. Robin Hanbury-Tenison), Thames & Hudson, London, 2006. ISBN 0500251290
  • Shooting Leave: spying out central Asia in the Great Game, Constable, London, 2009. ISBN 1849010404
  • contribution to The Great Explorers (ed. Robin Hanbury-Tenison), Thames & Hudson, London, 2010. ISBN 050025169X
  • Sabres on the Steppes: Danger, Diplomacy and Adventures in the Great Game, Constable, London, 2012. ISBN 1849016674

Book reviews[edit]

Year Review article Work(s) reviewed
2014 Ure, John (Sep 10, 2014). "[Untitled review]". Books. Country Life. 208 (37): 140.  Parker, Matthew (2014). Goldeneye : where Bond was born : Ian Fleming's Jamaica. London: Hutchinson. 


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Edward Jackson
British Ambassador to Cuba
Succeeded by
David Thomas
Preceded by
William Harding
British Ambassador to Brazil
Succeeded by
Michael Newington
Preceded by
Sir Richard Parsons
British Ambassador to Sweden
Succeeded by
John Grant