Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles KCMG

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Former British Ambassador

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Sherard served as British Ambassador in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, before returning as Special Representative. After his serious account of foreign adventures in Cables From Kabul, he’s now written Ever The Diplomat: Confessions of a Mandarin. Our man lifts the lid on embassy life.


Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles is a career diplomat with particular knowledge and experience of the Middle East and south-east Asia. He has represented the UK in various countries in the regions throughout the turbulent post-9/11 period.

Sir Sherard joined the diplomatic service after university and was posted to Cairo. He later worked in Washington DC, Paris, and Hong Kong. Back in London he served in the planning and security departments of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as Resident Associate at International Institute for Strategic Studies and as Principal Private Secretary to Robin Cook when he was Foreign Secretary.

Returning to foreign postings, Sir Sherard’s first Head of Mission appointment was in Tel Aviv as the British Ambassador to Israel. He then served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia and then in post-invasion Afghanistan.

Sir Sherard has been outspoken about the political and military strategies in Afghanistan, notably in his acclaimed book Cables from Kabul. He courted controversy by frequently refusing to follow the public pronouncements of the allies and the military and declaring that their anti-insurgency strategy and plans for political and social stability were deeply flawed.

Now working for BAE System advising on business development in the Middle East and south-east Asia, Sir Sherard is also a regular contributor to the broadcast and print media on the regions and on diplomacy more generally. He also speaks fluent Arabic, Hebrew, and French and studied Pashtu before his Afghanistan appointment.

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