Charles Guthrie, Baron Guthrie of Craigiebank
|The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank|
Guthrie at a NATO defence ministers' meeting
17 November 1938 |
Chelsea, London, England
|Years of service||1959–2001|
|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
|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.
Born in Chelsea, London into a Scottish landed family, Guthrie was the elder son of Ronald Guthrie and Nina Guthrie (née Llewelyn). He was educated at Harrow School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst,
Guthrie was commissioned into the Welsh Guards on 25 July 1959. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 June 1961 and captain on 25 July 1965. 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. He returned to the Welsh Guards in Münster in 1970 and, following his promotion to major on 31 December 1970, he was given command of a mechanised infantry company in the 1st Battalion. 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 and having been promoted to lieutenant colonel on 31 December 1975, he became Brigade Major for the Household Division in 1976. 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).
He was appointed Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in 1977 in which role he was deployed to Berlin. Promoted to colonel on 31 December 1979, 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. In 1980 he was also briefly Commander of British Forces in the New Hebrides. He then spent two years as Colonel on the General Staff for Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence. Promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1981, he became Brigade Commander of 4th Armoured Brigade in 1982. In 1984 he was made Chief of Staff for 1st British Corps in Bielefeld. Following his appointment as General Officer Commanding (GOC) North East District and Commander 2nd Infantry Division based in York on 18 January 1986, he was given the substantive rank of major general on 31 March 1986.
On 24 November 1987 Guthrie became Assistant Chief of the General Staff at the Ministry of Defence. On 2 October 1989 he was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed GOC 1st British Corps, and, having been appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours 1990, he relinquished his command on 2 December 1991.
He was appointed Commander of Northern Army Group and British Army of the Rhine on 7 January 1992 and, following promotion to (full) general on 14 February 1992, became ADC to the Queen on 13 July 1993. He then became Chief of the General Staff (CGS) on 15 March 1994, being advanced to a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1994. As CGS, he was responsible for providing strategic military advice to the British Government on the deployment of troops for the Bosnian War. He went on to become Chief of the Defence Staff on 2 April 1997. In that position, he advised the British Government on the conduct of the Kosovo War. He also warned against a British invasion of Zimbabwe to undertake regime change against Robert Mugabe, saying "Hold hard, you'll make it worse." Guthrie retired from the British Army in 2001.
Guthrie was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps on 1 March 1986, Colonel of the Life Guards and Gold Stick-in-Waiting to The Queen on 1 January 1999 and Colonel Commandant of the SAS in 2000.
Guthrie, after retiring as Chief of the Defence Staff, 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. He was created a Life Peer, 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. 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. Guthrie also clashed with Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown in 2008 over military funding.
Guthrie was promoted to the honorary rank of field marshal in June 2012. 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.
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. He is also a member of the Top Level Group of UK Parliamentarians for Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation, established in October 2009.
Guthrie is President of several charities, including Action Medical Research, the Army Benevolent Fund, Soldier On!, the Federation of London Youth Clubs and the Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for Dorset.
A Roman Catholic convert, he became a Knight of Malta and is a Patron of the Catholic homeless charities Cardinal Hume Centre and Caritas Anchor House. He became Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University in July 2013.
He was one of several contributors to a 2013 book on public sector management.
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.
His interests include tennis, opera and travel.
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.
Sinister: a Griffin Gules, winged, beaked, legged and armed Azure, charged on the shoulder with a Pheon Or.
Guthrie's honours and decorations include:
|Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)||1994|
|Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)||1990|
|Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO)||1977|
|Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)||1980|
|Badge of Honour, New Hebrides||1980|
|Commander Degree of the Legion of Merit||2001 (United States)|
|Officer of the Legion of Merit||(United States)|
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- Thomson, Alice (25 July 2009). "Guthrie attacks Gordon Brown over helicopters for Afghanistan troops". The Times.
- Charles Guthrie and Michael Quinlan (2007). Just War: The Just War Tradition: Ethics in Modern Warfare. Walker. ISBN 9780802717030.
- Richard Norton-Taylor (3 November 2007). "Immoral victories". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
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- "Our Patrons". Soldier on!. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "General tells pupils about history and leadership". Catholic Herald. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
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|General Officer Commanding 2nd Infantry Division
|Assistant Chief of the General Staff
Sir Peter Inge
|GOC 1st (British) Corps
Sir Jeremy Mackenzie
|Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine
|Chief of the General Staff
Sir Roger Wheeler
|Chief of the Defence Staff
Sir Michael Boyce