Oliver Wright

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For the British trade unionist and political activist, see Oliver Wright (trade unionist).
Sir Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright and Ronald Reagan 1982.jpg
at right, in the Oval Office
Personal details
Born (1922-03-06)March 6, 1922
Died September 1, 2009(2009-09-01) (aged 87)
Spouse(s) Marjory Osborne
Alma mater Solihull School
Christ's College, Cambridge

Sir John Oliver Wright, GCMG GCVO DSC (6 March 1922 – 1 September 2009) was a British diplomat.[1] He was British Ambassador to West Germany from 1975 to 1981 and British Ambassador to the United States from 1982 to 1986.

Early life[edit]

Wright was born on 6 March 1921 in Hammersmith, London, England. He was the younger son of Arthur Wright, a catering manager and hotelier, and his wife, Ethel Louisa Hicks, (née Shearod). The family moved from London to the West Midlands when Wright was very young.[2] He was educated at Solihull School, then an all-boys independent school in Solihull, West Midlands.[3] He won a scholarship to Christ's College, Cambridge. There, he studied modern languages and specialised in German and French.[2] Following graduation, he joined the military for service during World War II.[4]

His studies were interrupted by World War II. He served in the Royal Naval Reserve (1941–45) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Following his service he took and passed the Foreign Office exam, thus was accepted to Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service.

Military service[edit]

In 1941, having completed his university degree, Wright joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.[4]

Diplomatic career[edit]

Wright's career as a Diplomat was a highly distinguished one:

Having retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1981, he was elected Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. He would have become the new Master in 1982, but was recalled to the Diplomatic Service to become British Ambassador to the United States and therefore never took up the appointment.[5]

Later life[edit]

On 1 January 1987, Wright was appointed King of Arms of the Order of St Michael and St George. This appointment is the herald, one of six officers, of the Order of St Michael and St George.[6] In July 1996, he was succeeded in the appointment by Sir Ewen Fergusson.[7]

Honours and decorations[edit]

On 1 December 1964, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for his services as Private Secretary to Alec Douglas-Home from 1960 to 1964.[8] On 26 May 1978, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).[9] Knight Grand Cross is the highest grade within the Royal Victorian. He was appointed GCVO following the state visit under taken by Queen Elizabeth II to West Germany between 22 and 26 May 1978.

Offices held[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Ian Samuel
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

Succeeded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
Preceded by
Sir John Henniker-Major
British Ambassador
to Denmark

Succeeded by
Sir Murray MacLehose
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
British Ambassador
to West Germany

Succeeded by
Sir John Taylor
Preceded by
Sir Nicholas Henderson
British Ambassador
to the United States

Succeeded by
Sir Antony Acland


  1. ^ A & C Black (2009). "WRIGHT, Sir (John) Oliver". Who Was Who, online edition. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2012-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b Whitehead, John (January 2013). "Wright, Sir (John) Oliver (1921–2009)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Palliser, Sir Michael (22 September 2009). "Sir Oliver Wright: Diplomat who served under two Prime Ministers in Downing Street and as ambassador to the US". The Independent. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Sir Oliver Wright". The Daily Telegraph. 6 September 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "Sir Oliver Wright GCMG GCVO DSC". Christ's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "no. 50791". The London Gazette. 2 January 1987. p. 16959. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "no. 54471". The London Gazette. 19 July 1996. p. 9759. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "(Supplement) no. 43502". The London Gazette. 27 November 1964. p. 10229. Retrieved 11 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "no. 47567". The London Gazette. 13 June 1978. p. 7147. Retrieved 11 May 2015.