‘He leaves a bright light that we shall always remember’: Tribute to Bledlow resident Lord Carrington

The late Lord Carrington (right) during a visit to the Bucks County Museum
The late Lord Carrington (right) during a visit to the Bucks County Museum

The Duchess of Cornwall joined ministers and military personnel to celebrate the life, humour and modesty of the Late Lord Carrington in an emotional memorial service in Westminster Abbey on Thursday January 31.

The Conservative peer, who lived in Bledlow, died in July 2018 after a career in public service spanning over 70 years, a month after his 99th birthday.

Aylesbury MP David Lidington, who was also representing Prime Minister Theresa May, joined the speaker of the House of Commons and Buckingham MP John Bercow, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine in attendance at the ceremony.

The late Lord Carrington was the last surviving member of Sir Winston Churchill’s post-war government and was the longest serving member of the House of Lords, taking up his seat in 1945.

His son Rupert took up his post in the House of Lords in November last year after winning a crossbench hereditary peers’ by-election following the retirement of Lord Northbourne.

Lord Carrington famously resigned as Margaret Thatcher’s foreign secretary in 1982 after taking responsibility for the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands, which Lord Luce described in his tribute to Lord Carrington as: “The most sorrowful moment of his life.”

Henry Kissinger, the 95-year-old former US statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was also in attendance at the service, was quoted in Lord Luce’s tribute as saying: “I have met many world leaders in the past 25 years, and none have impressed me more than Lord Carrington.”

The Dean of Westminster Abbey John Hall praised Lord Carrington’s lifelong service to public duty, mentioning his dedication to Buckinghamshire: “We celebrate his love of his family, his devotion to his own community in Buckinghamshire, his long public service, in the Grenadiers, as a minister, as a high commissioner, at NATO.

“We are inspired by his bravery and modesty and by his example of high honour and public duty.”

His deep commitment to Buckinghamshire through activities, institutions and local charitable support for more than seventy years was mentioned alongside his love of farming and the countryside.

Lord Carrington’s son, Rupert gave a tribute to his father by reading some of his more notable memoirs as: “They demonstrate his intelligence, his humour, his self deprecation, his appreciation of those who worked with him, and his great love of life.”

One story included a time when he and former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan stayed up until 3am drinking at the British Embassy with Macmillan giving “fascinating and very personal versions of world events.”

At the start of the service, the Band of the Grenadier Guards, which Lord Carrington joined in 1938, performed as his decorations were brought forward by members of his family.