Known for his role in the Falklands War when he was British Foreign Secretary, Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington came to the helm of the North Atlantic Alliance on 25 June 1984.
Carrington was particularly refined, cultivated and personable. He knew the names of all his staff and treated them like family. Whether he and Lady Carrington were organising an impromptu dinner with aristocrats and artists or a simple picnic with his staff, all were treated with the same respect and consideration.
Preferring Bedlow, his property in the Chiltern Hills, Carrington first wished to work from the United Kingdom instead of an official residence in the heart of Brussels. He agreed to move to Brussels but had the official residence moved from Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 55 to its current location on Avenue Louise, leaving an unintended legacy …
Carrington requested that a piece of art be installed in the new residence. Instead of the modern German art he thought he was getting, a classic tapestry was glued to the wall! As it is impossible to remove, the tapestry still adorns the walls of the residence today.
He was also known for preferring his British racing green Jaguar although he agreed to use the Secretary General’s Rolls Royce for official functions.
NATO’S STRENGTH IS THAT THE MEMBERS SING IN HARMONY, NOT IN UNISON.
Throughout his term, Carrington was mainly preoccupied with political issues amongst Allies, which he deftly handled. When the American Congress demanded that the European Allies increase defence spending threatening the removal of American forces if they did not, Carrington was credited with facilitating greater burden sharing and encouraging higher defence spending from the Europeans.
NATO very much existed to act as a deterrent to the Soviet Union. Yet tensions were fairly stagnant during Carrington’s term, which ended 1 July 1988. It has been suggested he understood the political climate placed limitations on the position and this may have contributed to his feelings that it had not been a particularly exciting job. On leaving the post, he shared his feelings with his successor, Manfred Wörner:
NOW IT IS UP TO YOU TO BORE YOURSELF FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, MANFRED.
However, with the turn events took in Europe a few months later, he wished he had stayed on…