Ambassador of the United Kingdom to the United States

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UK Ambassador
to the United States
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Karen Pierce.jpg
Dame Karen Pierce

since 23 March 2020[1]
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Embassy, Washington D.C.
StyleHer Excellency
Reports toSecretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
ResidenceBritish Ambassador's residence, Washington, D.C.
AppointerThe Crown
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderGeorge Hammond
First Envoy extraordinary to US Julian Pauncefote, 1st Baron Pauncefote
First Ambassador extraordinary to US
Envoys extraordinary
Ambassadors extraordinary
WebsiteBritish Embassy – Washington

The British Ambassador to the United States is in charge of the British Embassy, Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom's diplomatic mission to the United States. The official title is Her Majesty's Ambassador to the United States of America.

The ambassador's residence is on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built in 1928.


The position of ambassador to the United States is considered to be one of the most important and prestigious posts in Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service, along with that of Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The ambassador's main duty is to present British policies to the American government and people, and to report American policies and views to the Government of the United Kingdom. They serve as the primary channel of communication between the two nations, and play an important role in treaty negotiations.

The ambassador is the head of the United Kingdom's consular service in the United States. As well as directing diplomatic activity in support of trade, they are ultimately responsible for visa services and for the provision of consular support to British citizens in America. They also oversee cultural relations between the two countries.


The first British envoy to the United States was Sir John Temple, who was appointed Consul General in 1785 and was based in New York at the estate at Richmond Hill (Manhattan) which served previously as a headquarters for George Washington.[2]

George Hammond was appointed on 5 July 1791. He held the title of Minister in Washington or Minister to the United States of America.

In 1809, David Erskine and President James Madison negotiated a compromise on Anglo-American disputes over shipping in the Atlantic, which might have averted the War of 1812. However, the deal was rejected by King George III and the British Government recalled Erskine.

By the 1850s, the envoy's title was Her Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, and the United Kingdom had consulates in several American cities. Under the direction of Sir John Crampton in 1854 and 1855, British consuls attempted to enlist American volunteers to fight in the Crimean War. The American government strenuously objected, and President Franklin Pierce asked for Crampton to be recalled. The United Kingdom refused, and in May 1856 the American government dismissed Crampton, along with the United Kingdom's consuls in New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. After much negotiation, the United Kingdom was allowed to re-establish its Legation in Washington the following year, and Lord Napier became the new minister.

In 1893, the British diplomatic mission in Washington was raised from a Legation to an Embassy, and Sir Julian Pauncefote, Minister since 1889, was appointed as the United Kingdom's first ambassador to the United States, with the title Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States.

The role has in the past been offered to three former Prime Ministers: the Earl of Rosebery, David Lloyd George and Sir Edward Heath, all of whom declined.[3]

Heads of mission[edit]

Minister plenipotentiary (1791–1795)[edit]

As a republic, the United States was not entitled to receive an ambassador. Instead, the United Kingdom dispatched a diplomat with the lower rank of minister plenipotentiary. This placed the United Kingdom on equal footing with France, which also maintained a minister plenipotentiary in the United States.[4]:1

1791–1795: George Hammond

Envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary (1796–1893)[edit]

In 1796, the United Kingdom raised its representation to envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary, or minister. Diplomatic relations would be maintained at this rank for almost 100 years.[4]:1

Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary (from 1893)[edit]

Ambassadors in fiction[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pierce, Karen [@KarenPierceUK] (23 March 2020). "Delighted to be accredited by @StateDept this afternoon as the new UK Ambassador. For me, the US is the UK's single most important bilateral relationship. We share experiences in war and peace, in defence, in commerce and now in tackling the coronavirus crisis" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ "No. 12625". The London Gazette. 26 February 1785. p. 109.
  3. ^ Theakston, Kevin (May 2010). "What next for Gordon Brown?". United Kingdom: History & Policy. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b Mayo, Bernard, ed. (1941). Instructions to the British Ministers to the United States, 1791-1812. United States Government Printing Office.
  5. ^ "No. 13874". The London Gazette. 12 March 1796. p. 249.
  6. ^ "No. 15553". The London Gazette. 25 January 1803. p. 114.
  7. ^ "No. 15938". The London Gazette. 19 July 1806. p. 897.
  8. ^ "No. 16260". The London Gazette. 23 May 1809. p. 736.
  9. ^ "No. 17020". The London Gazette. 6 June 1815. p. 1076.
  10. ^ "No. 17617". The London Gazette. 22 July 1820. p. 1430.
  11. ^ "No. 18121". The London Gazette. 26 March 1825. p. 513.
  12. ^ "No. 19310". The London Gazette. 25 September 1835. p. 1791.
  13. ^ "No. 20279". The London Gazette. 14 November 1843. p. 3705.
  14. ^ "No. 20972". The London Gazette. 27 April 1849. p. 1378.
  15. ^ "No. 21284". The London Gazette. 23 January 1852. p. 183.
  16. ^ "No. 21961". The London Gazette. 23 January 1857. p. 239.
  17. ^ "No. 22209". The London Gazette. 14 December 1858. p. 5415.
  18. ^ "No. 22945". The London Gazette. 3 March 1865. p. 1324.
  19. ^ "No. 23330". The London Gazette. 6 December 1867. p. 6704.
  20. ^ "No. 24994". The London Gazette. 8 July 1881. p. 8404.
  21. ^ "No. 25917". The London Gazette. 2 April 1889. p. 1863.
  22. ^ "No. 27471". The London Gazette. 5 September 1902. p. 5751.
  23. ^ "No. 27614". The London Gazette. 10 November 1903. p. 6854.
  24. ^ "No. 27995". The London Gazette. 15 February 1907. p. 1065.
  25. ^ "No. 28713". The London Gazette. 25 April 1913. p. 2975.
  26. ^ "No. 32907". The London Gazette. 12 February 1924. p. 1265.
  27. ^ "No. 33592". The London Gazette. 28 March 1930. p. 1960.
  28. ^ "No. 37828". The London Gazette. 24 December 1946. p. 6253.
  29. ^ "No. 39838". The London Gazette. 28 April 1953. p. 2357.
  30. ^ "No. 40981". The London Gazette. 22 January 1957. p. 502.
  31. ^ "No. 42519". The London Gazette. 21 November 1961. p. 8445.
  32. ^ "No. 43654". The London Gazette. 18 May 1965. p. 4861.
  33. ^ "No. 44912". The London Gazette. 7 August 1969. p. 8127.
  34. ^ "No. 45324". The London Gazette. 18 March 197. p. 2389.
  35. ^ "No. 46272". The London Gazette. 23 April 1974. p. 5068.
  36. ^ "No. 47308". The London Gazette. 23 August 1977. p. 10881.
  37. ^ "No. 47968". The London Gazette. 2 October 1979. p. 47968.
  38. ^ "No. 50551". The London Gazette. 13 June 1986. p. 3.
  39. ^ The British Ambassador
  40. ^ Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to the United States of America, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 20 August 2015
  41. ^ "Sir Kim Darroch resigns as UK ambassador to US". BBC News. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  42. ^ "UK names first woman US ambassador". BBC News. Retrieved 7 February 2020.

External links[edit]