Sir Kim Darroch, British Ambassador to the United States, resigned on July 10, after sensitive diplomatic cables were leaked to the British tabloid the Daily Mail. The tabloid revealed Darroch considered President Donald Trump to be “inept,” “insecure,” and “incompetent.” Darroch had sent the private communication to officials in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. May announced his resignation to the House of Commons, saying it was “a matter of great regret.”
“Sir Kim has given a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude,” May said in her address. “Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice.”
Darroch was equally critical of Trump’s staffers, describing discord within the White House administration as akin to “knife fights.”
“We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept,” Darroch wrote.
Darroch warned that Trump’s ability to fend off scandal could result in his re-election. He said Trump could “emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of The Terminator.”
President Trump told reporters that Darroch “has not served the UK well.”
Britain’s Foreign Office called the leaks “mischievous” but supports Darroch’s candor. “The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” a spokeswoman told The Guardian.
“Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government,” she added, noting “we pay them to be candid.” The office said an investigation into who leaked the documents is forthcoming.
Here’s what you need to know about Sir Kim Darroch.
1. Darroch Entered the Diplomatic Service after Completing a Zoology Degree
Kim Darroch was born on April 30, 1954, in South Stanley, County Durham in the North of England. He graduated from Durham University in 1975 with a BSc degree in zoology. Darroch joined Britain’s diplomatic service in 1977.
For more than four decades, Darroch has held a number of important diplomatic posts. He was appointed as Ambassador to the United States in January 2016.
He served as the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor from January 2012 to September 2015 and acted as Secretary of the National Security Council, working on issues such as the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
While stationed in Brussels, Darroch was the UK Permanent Representative to the European Union from 2007 to 2011. He was the European Union Advisor to the Prime Minister from 2004 to 2007 and Head of the Cabinet Office European Secretariat. Darroch has an extensive background in Middle East affairs. He has also had diplomatic postings in Tokyo, and Rome.
Darroch is married wife Vanessa in 1978 and the couple has two children, Georgina and Simon. Simon is an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University and Georgina, a botanist. Vanessa Darroch currently teaches preschool at the British International School in Washington, D.C.
2. Darroch Is Known for Using Restraint When Speaking Publicly about Trump
While Darroch’s leaked comments may show his true feelings, he is typically known for putting his diplomatic skills to work when speaking about the president.
“I have met (Trump) seven or eight times and always found him to be absolutely charming,” he said.
In another interview, he said that he finds that Trumps administration is comprised “mostly of anglophiles and always good at hearing contrary opinions.”
When he was asked if he’d ever considered making more “off the cuff” remarks like Trump, Darroch told the Financial Times that he prefers a more thoughtful approach. “If you play safe, you might lose some audience, but you’re never going to screw up.”
3. Trump Wanted Ultra-Conservative Nigel Farage to Serve as Ambassador
After the election, Trump tweeted that he wanted UK Independence Party (UKIP) founding member Nigel Farage to serve as Great Britain’s ambassador to the United States. Farage is a nationalist with ultra-conservative views. He has also been a key player in the Brexit movement. Farage called for Darroch’s removal soon after the memos were released.
In the November 21, 2016 tweet Trump said Farage “would do a great job!” The endorsement was considered by many as disrespectful to both the Queen, who appoints ambassadors upon consultation with government leaders and Darroch. Farrage, however, said he was flattered by the tweet.
Trump’s relationship with Farage was criticized after he began pushing Farage and his friends to fight against wind farms that were located near Trump’s resort and golf course, Trump International, Scotland. Trump said he was “dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape.”
Trump didn’t deny making the ask when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman interviewed him. “I might have brought it up,” he told her.
4. Darroch Has Received Two Prestigious Titles for His Service
In 1997, Darroch was awarded the Companion of Order of St, Michael and St. George. The honor is bestowed upon individuals who have provided extraordinary non-military service to Great Britain while stationed in a foreign country. The order is named after Archangel Michael and St. George, the patron saint of England.
In 2008, Darroch was made a Knight Commander (KCMG), also of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. Knights Commanders receive the title “Sir.” The honor is often conferred upon British diplomats being recognized for outstanding service to the Commonwealth.
5. Darroch Is an Unconventional Ambassador
Darroch goes against the stereotype of the traditional diplomat. He’s a fan American football and classic British rock groups. He’s got a Led Zeppelin ring tone on his cell phone. He told the Washingtonian that he has just about every recording by Mark Knopfler, lead singer, and songwriter for Dire Strats. He’s also a big Mick Fleetwood and Steve Winwood fan.
When Darroch gives speeches, he typically stands underneath a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created by pop artist Andy Warhol. The artwork was created in 1985 taken from a photo from the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. Darroch told the Financial Times he’s chosen that spot so that as he’s speaking he can look directly across the room and see a portrait painted by Hans Holbein of Queen Elizabeth I.
When it comes to cars, Darroch also has contrasting tastes. He travels by Bentley for diplomatic business but enjoys his Volkswagen Tiguan for personal outings. He said that he tries to get out of Washington, D.C. periodically, admitting that “Washington is not America. But this is a wonderful convening place.”