Chris Patten Biography

Chris Patten is a British politician who served as the 28th Governor of Hong Kong. Check out this biography to know about his birthday, childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 12, 1944

Nationality: British

Famous: Political Leaders British Men

Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Taurus

Also Known As: Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes

Born Country: England

Born in: Cleveleys, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Famous as: Politician


Spouse/Ex-: Lavender Patten (m. 1971)

father: Frank Patten

mother: Joan Patten

children: Alice Patten, Kate Patten, Laura Patten

Notable Alumni: Balliol College, Oxford

More Facts

education: Balliol College, St Benedict's School - Senior & Sixth Form

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Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC is a politician from Britain. He was the 28th and last Governor of Hong Kong, serving between 1992 and 1997. Before that, he was the Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1992. He became a life peer in 2005, and since 2003, he has held the position of the Chancellor of Oxford University. A Lancashire native, Patten grew up in London and was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. After obtaining a modern history degree in 1965, he became active in politics and joined the Conservative Party. In 1979, he won his first parliamentary election to become an MP from Bath. In 1989, the then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made him the Secretary of State for the Environment. During the tenure of John Major as the PM, Patten served as the Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and played an instrumental role in his party’s victory in the 1992 general election. As the last Governor of Hong Kong, he supervised the final years of British governance in the colony and readied it for the transition to Chinese control in 1997.

Childhood & Early Life
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Early Political Career
  • In 1966, Chris Patten became involved with the Conservative Party. His first job in the party was as a desk officer. Between 1974 and 1979, he served as the director of the Conservative Research Department.
  • He lost his first parliamentary election (for Lambeth Central) in 1974 against the Labour Party candidate Marcus Lipton. However, in 1979, he contested from Bath and won. He held the parliamentary seat until 1992.
  • In June 1983, he was made the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Northern Ireland Office. In September 1985, he was appointed a Minister of State in the Department of Education and Science. A year later, he became Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
  • In PM Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, Patten served as the Secretary of State for the Environment from July 1989 to November 1990. He garnered widespread criticism for the controversial Community Charge (or so-called "Poll Tax"). He also helmed the initiative of passing the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  • In 1990, he was appointed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chairman of the Conservative Party. While he basically orchestrated the Conservative victory in the general election of 1992, he lost his own MP seat at Bath.
The Last Governor of Hong Kong
  • After his loss in 1992, Patten declined the offer of a new seat and assumed the position of the 28th Governor of Hong Kong. He was also the last governor of the colony, as it was transferred to Chinese control on June 30, 1997. Patten was not a career diplomat, unlike the previous governors.
  • During his time in Hong Kong, Patten and his government considerably increased the reach of the territory's social welfare programmes and brought about democratic reforms to the electoral system. The latter initiative was heavily criticised in China, with one Chinese media outlet calling him a “wrongdoer who would be condemned for a thousand generations”. Despite this, he enjoyed significant popularity in Hong Kong.
Later Years
  • Between 1998 and 1999, Chris Patten served as the Chairperson of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland. He was one of the United Kingdom's two members to the European Commission as Commissioner for External Relations from 1999 to 2004.
  • For a decade between 1999 and 2009, he was the Chancellor of Newcastle University. In 2003, he was appointed the Chancellor of Oxford University.
  • In 2005, he became an appointed member of the British peerage. On May 1, 2011, following the advice from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron, the Queen-in-Council made him the Chairman of BBC Trust. After serving the organisation for three years, he resigned on May 6, 2014.
  • In 2019, amidst the protests in Hong Kong, Patten spoke out in support of the protesters. In October, he severely criticised the Hong Kong government for banning face masks.
Family & Personal Life
  • On September 11, 1971, Chris Patten married barrister Lavender Thornton. They have three daughters together, Katharine Joan (born 1973), Laura (1974 or 1975), and Alice (1980).
  • He put out his memoir, ‘Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs’, on September 29, 2005.
  • Between February 2010 and June 2011, he served as the President of Medical Aid for Palestinians.
  • A practising Roman Catholic, he organized Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010. From 2014 to 2016, he worked under Pope Francis as the head of the body that advises the Vatican on media strategy.

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