On Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Meyer was having breakfast on the British Embassy in Washington together with his former boss, ex-British prime minister John Main. They had been discussing Mr. Meyer’s chat the earlier night with nationwide safety adviser Condoleezza Rice about challenges for the West within the Center East and elsewhere.
Then Mr. Meyer and Main realized concerning the first airplane hitting the World Commerce Heart and watched the remainder unfold beneath lockdown-level safety. “That world we had been speaking about earlier than bore no resemblance to what we had been confronted with the next morning,” Mr. Meyer later informed the Day by day Telegraph.
“They had been bushy days,” added Mr. Meyer, who started his tenure in Washington in late 1997 throughout President Invoice Clinton’s administration. “It was a really emotional time. I felt choked.”
For the following 18 months, Mr. Meyer was within the thick of a transatlantic struggle council between Blair’s authorities and the Bush administration as Britain turned the primary U.S. associate within the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan and the buildup to the struggle in Iraq. Blair broke with many European leaders to assist U.S.-led contentions — contradicting U.N. arms inspectors — that Saddam Hussein was creating weapons of mass destruction.
Britain in 2002 issued its personal intelligence report reinforcing the Bush administration line that Iraq appeared to have organic and chemical weapons that might be deployed in as little as 45 minutes. The claims over Iraq’s weapons program had been confirmed false after the invasion, which touched off years of warfare, civil battle and regional instability that claimed a minimum of 150,000 lives, in line with teams monitoring struggle casualties.
Mr. Meyer underwent emergency coronary heart surgical procedure simply earlier than U.S.-led forces moved into Iraq in March 2003 and didn’t return as ambassador. He later solid himself as a skeptic of the claims about Iraq’s arsenal and mentioned he privately advocated to gradual the march to struggle. However the rising bonds between Blair and Bush proved to be a “nice accelerator,” he informed the Telegraph in 2003.
“My presence in Washington wouldn’t have made the blindest little bit of distinction,” he mentioned. “In my expertise of the primary Gulf Conflict and of Kosovo and the Afghanistan struggle, when struggle begins, diplomacy takes a again seat.”
Mr. Meyer lower a glamorous swath by way of the often-staid corridors of worldwide diplomacy. He was an clever storyteller, favored purple (and generally inexperienced) socks, performed tennis with Rice, and beloved to throw lavish bashes together with his multilingual spouse Catherine. Their mates included Hollywood energy couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.
“The cool youngsters are transferring away,” The Washington Put up wrote concerning the Meyers’ farewell occasion in early 2003.
After leaving the diplomatic corps quickly after, he nonetheless had extra to say. His 2005 e-book “DC Confidential” was filled with name-dropping asides — about tenting with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and white-water rafting with Protection Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld — however was unsparing with some British officers. Blair, he wrote, was “seduced” by U.S. energy, and lots of of Blair’s envoys had been political “pygmies” who did not impress American counterparts.
Christopher John Rome Meyer was born in Beaconsfield, northwest of London, on Feb. 22, 1944. Weeks earlier, his father, a Royal Air Power flight lieutenant, was misplaced on a World Conflict II mission over the Aegean. His mom rejoined the struggle effort, and Mr. Meyer was despatched north to Leicester to dwell together with his grandmother, seeing his mom on weekends.
Mr. Meyer joined the British Overseas Workplace a yr after finishing a historical past diploma from the College of Cambridge in 1965. Postings in Europe and again in London adopted, together with Soviet Union evaluation on the Overseas Workplace and serving as spokesman for Overseas Secretary Geoffrey Howe from 1984 to 1988.
Mr. Meyer was in america for six years till 1994, on a one-year sabbatical at Harvard College after which in varied envoy roles together with dealing with commerce coverage. He left diplomacy in 1994 to grow to be spokesman for Main’s Conservative authorities from 1994 to 1996.
He was given the ambassador publish to america — one of many crown jewels of British diplomacy — at a time when America was using an financial wave and Britain was rebranding itself as “Cool Britannia.” Mr. Meyer principally simply needed to maintain his hand on the tiller, with chores corresponding to holding London apprised of the most recent twists in disclosures over President Invoice Clinton’s affair with White Home intern Monica Lewinsky.
He did his homework. Clinton was term-limited from one other White Home run. Mr. Meyer puzzled how Bush — then a potential candidate — would mesh with Blair. He sought out then-Texas Gov. Bush in 1998 on the governor’s mansion in Austin and had a 40-minute chat. “Bush admitted that, aside from Mexico, he didn’t know a lot about worldwide affairs and that he would do properly to broaden his expertise,” Mr. Meyer wrote in an official report on the encounter.
Between 2003 and 2009, he served as chairman of Britain’s Press Complaints Fee, which offers with complaints about media intrusions into non-public lives, together with the royal household. He then hosted a number of TV sequence together with “Mortgaged to the Yanks” in 2006, recounting U.S. postwar loans to Britain, and “Getting Our Manner,” a 500-year historical past of British diplomacy based mostly on his 2009 e-book of the identical identify.
He saved a operating commentary on world affairs and British insurance policies on his Twitter account @sirsocks. He was knighted in 1998.
“DC Confidential” induced essentially the most stir, nonetheless. A former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, branded Mr. Meyer a “red-socked fop” and joined others calling for him to be punished for spilling insider tales of British leaders. However the public beloved his tales, together with how Main would generally complain about press protection even earlier than he placed on his pants.
“If society’s shakers are divided between the insiders and the outsiders, Sir Christopher Meyer is extra insider-ish than a langoustine cosy in its shell,” wrote British creator Jasper Gerard within the Sunday Instances.
His first marriage, to Françoise Winskill, with whom he had two sons, led to divorce. In 1997, whereas serving briefly as ambassador to Germany, he married Catherine Laylle Volkmann, a half-French, half-Russian former commodity dealer. On the time, she was concerned in a global marketing campaign for the rights of divorced and separated dad and mom to have entry to their kids when taken throughout borders.
For a decade, her ex-husband had refused to let their two sons return to Britain from a trip in his native Germany. A German courtroom dominated the youngsters ought to stay in Germany, however as younger adults they had been reunited with Laylle. In 1999, she created the group Pact (Dad and mom and Kidnapped Youngsters Collectively), recruiting Hillary Clinton as honorary chairwoman.
Full details about survivors was not instantly obtainable.
Laylle’s courtroom combat was additionally what introduced her along with Mr. Meyer. A “whirlwind courtship,” he later mentioned. They had been married at a registrar’s workplace the day earlier than he was scheduled to go away for Washington to take up the ambassador publish.
“I consider two folks standing, hand in hand, on the best diving board,” he informed the Day by day Mail in 2005, reflecting on his marriage and arrival in Washington in lower than 24 hours. “We shut our eyes, leap and hit the water. It was sink or swim.”