William Strang, 1st Baron Strang

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Strang in 1947

William Strang, 1st Baron Strang GCB, GCMG, MBE (2 January 1893 – 27 May 1978) was a British diplomat who served as a leading adviser to the British Government from the 1930s to the 1950s and as Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1949 to 1953.

Early life and education[edit]

Strang was the eldest son of James Strang, a farmer, and his wife Margaret Steven, daughter of William Steven. He was educated at Palmer's School, University College, London and at the Sorbonne.

Military and diplomatic career[edit]

Strang was commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment in 1915 and served in the First World War. He ended the war as a Captain.

In 1919, he joined the Diplomatic Service and served at the British embassy in Belgrade from 1919 to 1922, at the Foreign Office from 1922 to 1930 and at the embassy in Moscow from 1930 to 1933. During his time in Moscow he played an important role in the Metro-Vickers engineers trial, in which six British engineers were accused of spying. He returned to the Foreign Office in 1933, and held office as head of the League of Nations section until 1937 and of the Central Department from 1937 to 1939. From 1939 to 1943 he was assistant under-secretary of state for Europe.

During the 1930s he was an adviser to the government at the major international meetings, and met Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin. He was a tacit opponent of appeasement, but always stayed loyal to the government. He continued as an adviser during and after the Second World War and was present at the major conferences between the Allied leaders. In 1943 Strang was appointed the British representative on the European Advisory Commission, with the rank of ambassador. The commission was set up by the Allies to study the possible post-war political problems in Europe and make recommendation but was dissolved at the Potsdam Conference In June 1945, Strang became political adviser to the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Germany, Bernard Montgomery.[1]

Strang again returned to the Foreign Office in 1947 and served as Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the German section from 1947 to 1949 and as Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1949 to 1953. The six years Strang served as Permanent Under-Secretary of State saw the gradual recovery of Europe through the Marshall Plan, the establishment of the Western European Union and NATO and the breaking of the Berlin blockade. He retired from the Foreign Office in 1953 due to ill health, following an incident where he fainted during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.


While serving as an army captain, Strang was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1918. was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1932, a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1939, a KCMG in 1943, a GCMG in 1950 and a KCB in 1953. In 1954, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Strang, of Stonesfield in the County of Oxford. He later served as a Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords and as Convenor of the Crossbench Peers.[2] He was also Chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and of the college committee of University College, London. He published The Foreign Office (1955), Britain in World Affairs (1961) and Diplomatic Career (1962) as well as his autobiography Home and Abroad (1956).

Family and legacy[edit]

In 1920, he married Elsie Wynne Jones, daughter of Josias E. Jones. They had one daughter and one son, Colin, who succeeded him in the barony.

Because of standing up for Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn (in the meetings of the European Advisory Committee held in London) so that it did not become part of the Soviet occupation zone, as was Stalin's wish, William Strang is highly revered on the island, although he never visited it during his lifetime.

Lord Strang died at the age of 85.


  1. ^ Hamilton, Nigel (1986). Monty: The Final Years of the Field Marshall 1944-1976. McGraw-Hill Book Company. pp. 559–60. 
  2. ^ The Independent Crossbenchers: Lord Strang of Stonesfield Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.


  • Blake, Lord and Nicholls, C. S (editors). The Dictionary of National Biography, 1971-1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Kidd, Charles and Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New position
Convenor of the Crossbench Peers
Succeeded by
The Baroness Hylton-Foster
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
Baron Strang
Succeeded by
Colin Strang