Dame Karen Pierce named UK's first female ambassador to US

Pierce will succeed Sir Kim Darroch, who stood down following leaks of diplomatic memos

Photo: PA

By Richard Johnstone

10 Feb 2020

Dame Karen Pierce has been named as the UK’s new ambassador to the United States, replacing Sir Kim Darroch who resigned last year after a series of memos he wrote criticising the Trump White House were leaked.

Pierce, who is currently the UK ambassador to the United Nations, will be the first woman to serve as US ambassador.

The appointment has been made on the recommendation of foreign secretary Dominic Raab and approved by prime minister Boris Johnson.


Raab said Pierce would build on the two countries' friendship at a time of “huge opportunity” as the UK negotiates a free trade agreement with the US after leaving the European Union.

“I am delighted that Karen Pierce will take forward this exciting new chapter in our relationship,” he said. “We’re proud to be sending to Washington such an outstanding diplomat, and I warmly congratulate her on her appointment.”

Darroch resigned last July after memos he wrote describing the Trump administration “uniquely dysfunctional” were published.

The ambassador said the row meant he could not stay on in his role. Following the leak, President Donald Trump had said he would no longer deal with Darroch

Pierce joined the Foreign Office in 1981. Her first overseas role was in Tokyo between 1984 and 1987, then returned the UK to work in the Security Policy Department. She has subsequently held a host of diplomatic posts, including as private secretary to the UK ambassador to the United States between 1992 and 1995.

In 2006, she moved to New York as deputy permanent representative at the UK Mission to the UN. She returned to London in 2009, where she held several positions before being named the UK’s ambassador to Afghanistan in 2015.

This was followed by a spell as the Foreign Office’s director general for political affairs and chief operating officer before becoming the UK’s permanent representative to the UN in March 2018.

Pierce said she was “honoured to have been asked to represent the UK in the US”.

She added: “I think it is the UK’s single most important relationship. There is a deep bond between Britain and the US, built on many pillars.

“We have a fantastic cross-government team across the US and I look forward to working with them to strengthen and even further deepen the special relationship between our two countries and peoples.”

Pierce will take up her appointment after obtaining the United States’ formal agrément – the process through which host countries approve top diplomatic postings.

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