Lillie was educated at South Wolds Comprehensive School and The Queen's College, Oxford. He joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1988 and was sent for Chinese language training at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the Chinese University of Hong Kong 1989–91. He served in Beijing 1992–96, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 1996–99, at Guangzhou as Consul-General 1999–2003, and in New Delhi 2003–06. He was head of the Far Eastern Department at the FCO 2006–09, then ambassador to the Philippines and also non-resident ambassador to Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau 2009–13. He was Director, Asia Pacific, at the FCO 2013–17 and was then appointed to be High Commissioner to the Republic of Cyprus from April 2018.
- Philippines: Grand Cross of the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu (2 July 2013).
- United Kingdom: Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) (2017 Birthday Honours).
- "Lillie, Stephen". Who's Who 2018. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- "Change of British High Commissioner to Cyprus". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 13 July 2017.
- "The Order of Sikatuna". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines.
- "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B4.
| British Consul-General in Guangzhou
| British Ambassador to the Philippines, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau
| British High Commissioner to Cyprus
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