After his training at the 'Royal Military College,' Peter was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 'Grenadier Guards,' an infantry regiment of the 'British Army,' on January 26, 1939.
During the Second World War, he served as part of the regiment. On January 1, 1941, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He was then made a temporary captain and later also appointed as an acting major.
On March 1, 1945, he was honored with the 'Military Cross’ (MC), in recognition of his bravery and courageous service in northwest Europe during the war.
After the war ended in 1945, he continued to serve the army until 1949, although inactively.
After Peter turned 21 on June 6, 1940, he became eligible for the membership of the 'House of Lords.' However, as he was on active military service due to the war, he did not claim his seat until October 9, 1945.
After leaving the army in 1949, Peter actively participated in politics. On July 2, 1951, he was appointed as the deputy lieutenant (DL) of Buckinghamshire.He served in the conservative governments led by Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden. Between November 1951 and October 1954, he was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture and food.
In the wake of the political scandal known as the “Crichel Down affair,” he offered to resign, only to be rejected by the prime minister.
He was appointed as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defense in October 1954 and remained in this position for 2 years.
In 1956, he was named the high commissioner to Australia. He continued to serve in this position until 1959.
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He was made the “Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George” (KCMG) in 1958.
In 1959, he was made the “Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council” (PC) and also the penultimate “First Lord of the Admiralty.” He served in the latter role until 1963.
During this tenure as the “First Lord of the Admiralty,” he was educated in high-level defense. He elevated the status of the 'Royal Navy' and made it equal to that of the ‘Army’ and the 'Royal Air Force.' He also reformed it by procuring ships with guided-missile destroyers, a massive new nuclear submarine, the Leander frigate building program, and interim retention of a more extensive carrier program.
In 1963, he was made a minister without a portfolio and the leader of the 'House of the Lords.' He served in these positions until 1964.
Between 1964 and 1970, he was appointed as the leader of the opposition in the 'House of Lords.' From 1968, he doubled as a shadow defense secretary.
In 1970, when the 'Conservative Party' was voted to power, with Edward Heath as the new prime minister, Peter was made the defense secretary.
He was chosen as the chairman of the 'Conservative Party' in 1972 and worked in this capacity until 1974. During this period, he also had a short stint as the secretary of state for energy (from January to March 1974).
From 1974 until 1979, he again became the leader of the opposition in the 'House of the Lords.'
When the 'Conservative Party' formed the government in 1979, under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, he was appointed as the foreign secretary and the minister for overseas development.
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Two major events took place during his tenure as a foreign secretary. The first was the signing of the ‘Lancaster House Agreement’ in 1979, which led to the independence of Rhodesia (currently known as Zimbabwe). The second event was the attack on the Falkland Islands by Argentina on April 2, 1982. Admitting responsibility for the failure of his office to foresee the incident, he resigned from the post 3 days later, on April 5, 1982.
He was honored as the “Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour” (CH) in 1983.
In 1984, he was appointed the secretary-general of ‘NATO’ and the chancellor of the 'Order of St. Michael and St. George.' He served until 1988 in the former position and until 1994 in the latter role.
In 1985, he was awarded the title of the “Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter” (KG).
In 1988, he was bestowed with the title of the “Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George” (GCMG). The same year, he was awarded the 'Presidential Medal of Freedom' by the United States of America.
He helmed the diplomatic negotiations on the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991.
He was appointed as the “Chancellor of the Order of the Garter” on November 8, 1994, and served in this role until 2012.
The enactment of the 'House of Lords Act' in 1999 took away the automatic right of hereditary peers to be part of the ‘House of Lords.’ This affected Peter, too. However, on November 17, 1999, he was given a life peerage as “Baron Carington of Upton,” of Upton in the County of Nottinghamshire.
He was the longest-serving member of the 'House of the Lords,' a seat he held until his death in 2018.
Family, Personal Life, & Death
Peter was married to Iona McClean. The couple had three children: Alexandra Carington, Virginia Carington, and Rupert Francis John Carington.
Iona passed away on June 7, 2009, at the age of 89.
Peter died of natural causes on July 9, 2018, at the age of 99.
Peter's direct male ancestor Robert Smith, M.P. for Nottingham, was made “Baron Carrington” (thus becoming Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington), in 1796 (‘Peerage of Ireland’) and 1797 (‘Peerage of Great Britain’).
Robert's son, Robert John Smith, adopted the surname “Carrington” after receiving a royal license in 1839 and thus came to be known as Robert Carrington, 2nd Baron Carrington.
The spelling of the surname “Carrington” was changed to “Carington” by the second baron's sons in 1880. However, the spelling of the title was retained as before.