Tributes to UK’s ‘formidable diplomat’ Sir Christopher Meyer after death aged 78

Sir Christopher Meyer (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
Sir Christopher Meyer (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

Former British ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer has been described as a “dedicated public servant” and “formidable diplomat” following his death at the age of 78.

Sir Christopher served in the post for six years from 1997, and had previously been press secretary to Conservative prime minister John Major between 1994 and 1996.

He is reported to have suffered a stroke while on holiday with his wife Catherine in the French Alps.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “saddened” to hear the news.

He tweeted: “He was a dedicated public servant throughout his career and devoted his life to international diplomacy.

“My thoughts are with his wife Catherine and his loved ones”.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Sir Christopher was a “formidable diplomat, who strengthened the UK/US special relationship and a man of great acumen, wit and wisdom”.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt praised the diplomat for his “passion for his country, his warmth and humour”, while the current ambassador, Karen Pierce, said he was “a great diplomat and a great character”.

Sir Christopher Meyer giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry (PA) (PA Media)
Sir Christopher Meyer giving evidence to the Iraq inquiry (PA) (PA Media)

Sir Christopher served as ambassador to Germany before he became the ambassador to the US in 1997.

His time in Washington DC covered the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan.

Recounting his time in post in his memoirs DC Confidential, released in 2005, he claimed he was instructed by Jonathan Powell, Sir Tony Blair’s chief of staff, “to get up the arse of the White House and stay there”.

The memoirs also included sharp criticism of Sir Tony for his handling of the period leading up to the Iraq War.

In a tribute, Sir Tony described Sir Christopher as a “distinguished diplomat who played an essential role building relationships for the new Labour Government, first in Germany and then later with the USA”.

He added: “This became particularly important following the attacks on America on 9/11 when thousands of Americans lost their lives to terrorism.

“He was crucial during this time in keeping strong bonds between the UK and the USA.

“My deep condolences and sympathy to Catherine and his family.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, tweeted: “We’re sad to learn of the death of Sir Christopher Meyer, former British diplomat and ambassador to the United States.

“We pay tribute to his years of service at the Foreign Office.

“Our thoughts are with his family.”

Sir Christopher is survived by wife Catherine, Conservative peer Baroness Meyer, who is the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Ukraine.