Karen Pierce

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Dame Karen Pierce
Karen Pierce.jpg
Pierce in 2016
British Ambassador to the United States
Assumed office
23 March 2020
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentDonald Trump
Joe Biden
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byThe Lord Darroch of Kew
Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations
In office
23 March 2018 – March 2020
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Boris Johnson
Preceded byMatthew Rycroft
Succeeded byDame Barbara Woodward
British Ambassador to Afghanistan
In office
1 May 2015 – 29 February 2016
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Preceded byRichard Stagg
Succeeded byDominic Jermey
Personal details
Born (1959-09-23) 23 September 1959 (age 62)
Alma mater

Dame Karen Elizabeth Pierce, DCMG (born 23 September 1959) is a British diplomat who is currently British Ambassador to the United States[1] at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and was previously the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations.[2][3]


Pierce was educated at Penwortham Girls' High School in Lancashire and Girton College, Cambridge (BA in English, later raised to MA). In 2012 she gained an MSc degree in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the London School of Economics (LSE).[4][5]


Pierce joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1981. After a period of training in Japanese, she was posted to Tokyo as a Third Secretary in 1984. In 1987, she returned to London and joined the Security Policy Department of the FCO. From 1992 to 1995, she was based in Washington, D.C., as Private Secretary to the Ambassador. She held various positions at the FCO between 1996 and 2000: Team Leader for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova (1996 to 1997), Deputy Head Eastern Adriatic (Balkans) Department (1997 to 1999), and Head of the FCO Newsroom (1999 to 2000).[6]

From 2006 to 2009 Pierce was the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. In this capacity, she acted as the President of the UN Security Council in April 2007 and in May 2008. From 2009 to 2012 she was Director, South Asia and Afghanistan at the FCO, acting as the UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan June 2010 – June 2011.[citation needed]

From 2012 to 2015 Pierce was the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in Geneva, and also to other international organisations in Geneva including the World Trade Organization.[6] From May 2015 to February 2016 she was the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.[7] Until early 2018, she served as the FCO's Director General Political.[citation needed]

Pierce was appointed as the UK's Permanent Representative to the UN in March 2018,[8] the first woman to take on this role.[9] During her time in office, Britain coordinated the Council's activities on Myanmar.[10]

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) in the 2018 Birthday Honours.[11]

On 7 February 2020, she was named as the new ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States and became the first woman in the post, replacing Lord Darroch of Kew.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Pierce is married to Charles Roxburgh, a senior civil servant at HM Treasury.[13] Together they have two sons, born 1991 and 1997.[6]


  1. ^ "UK Names First Woman US Ambassador". BBC. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian. 23 September 2014. p. 41.
  3. ^ Wintour, Patrick (27 November 2017). "Karen Pierce becomes first female UK ambassador to the UN". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  4. ^ Kirkpatrick, Laura E. (12 June 2019). "Call Me Dame Karen: UK's Ambassador Dashes Style With Diplomacy". PassBlue. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  5. ^ "LSE alumna to be UK's first female US Ambassador". The London School of Economics and Science. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 6 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Change of UK's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and World Trade Organisation in Geneva". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 5 August 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  7. ^ "New UK Ambassador to Afghanistan Presents Letter of Credence to President Ghani" (Press release). Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 26 May 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015.
  8. ^ "New Permanent Representative of United Kingdom Presents Credentials - Meetings Coverage and Press Releases". www.un.org. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  9. ^ Elizabeth Piper (27 November 2017), Britain appoints first woman as permanent secretary to U.N. Reuters.
  10. ^ Michelle Nichols (24 October 2018), China fails to stop U.N. Security Council Myanmar briefing Reuters.
  11. ^ @UKUN_NewYork (13 February 2019). "Formal investiture of Dame Karen Pierce today at Buckingham Palace. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has bestowed the honour of Dame Commander of St Michael and St George upon @KarenPierceUN in recognition of her long-term outstanding contribution to British foreign policy" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ "UK names first woman US ambassador". BBC News. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Charles Roxburgh - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
British Permanent Representative
to the United Nations in Geneva

Succeeded by
Preceded by
British Ambassador
to Afghanistan

Succeeded by
Preceded by
British Permanent Representative
to the United Nations

Succeeded by
Preceded by
British Ambassador to the United States