Anthony Parsons

Parsons (r) talking with Ali Akbar Abdolrashidi (l)

Sir Anthony Derrick Parsons GCMG LVO MC (9 September 1922 – 12 August 1996) was a British diplomat, ambassador to Iran at the time of the Iranian Revolution and Permanent Representative to the UN at the time of the Falklands War.


Anthony Parsons was educated at King's School, Canterbury. He served as an artillery officer during the Second World War and was awarded the Military Cross at the end of the war in August 1945.[1] He was then given the opportunity to read Oriental Languages at Balliol College, Oxford as an apprenticeship to a career in the diplomatic service and achieved a First Class degree. He remained in the army to serve as Assistant Military Attaché in Baghdad 1952–54.

Parsons joined the Foreign Office in 1954 and served in the British embassies in Ankara, Amman, Cairo and Khartoum, and was Political Agent in Bahrain 1965–69. He was Counsellor in the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York City 1969–71 and Under-Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1971–74.

Parsons was British Ambassador to Iran 1974–79 and mistakenly predicted the survival of the Shah of Iran shortly before his downfall in the Iranian Revolution.[2] In 1979 he was appointed UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations; in April 1982 after the outbreak of the Falklands War he tabled a resolution which was adopted as United Nations Security Council Resolution 502 demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and a withdrawal of Argentine forces.

Sir Anthony retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1982 and was part-time special adviser to the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, on foreign affairs 1982–83. He also served on the board of the British Council 1982–86. In 1984 he became a research fellow at the University of Exeter and lectured there 1984–87.

Anthony Parsons was appointed LVO in 1965, CMG in 1969, knighted KCMG in 1975 and GCMG in 1982. The Sudanese government awarded him the Order of the Two Niles in 1965. Balliol College, Oxford, gave him an Honorary Fellowship in 1984.

In 1995, Parson wrote the foreword to Century Story, the autobiography of his cousin Claudia Parsons, the first person to circumnavigate the globe by car.[3]

Sir Anthony was portrayed by Robert Hardy in The Falklands Play.


  • The Pride and the Fall: Iran 1974–1979; Jonathan Cape, London, 1984. ISBN 0224021966
  • Vultures and Philistines: British Attitudes to Culture and Cultural Diplomacy, British Council 50th anniversary lecture, in International Affairs vol.61, no.1, Blackwell, 1984
  • They Say the Lion: Britain's legacy to the Arabs: a personal memoir; Jonathan Cape, London, 1986. ISBN 0224028294
  • The United Nations and the quest for peace (with Professor Alan James), special paper no.11, Welsh Centre for International Affairs, 1986.
  • Antarctica : the next decade (ed.); report of a group study chaired by Sir Anthony Parsons, Cambridge University Press, 1987. ISBN 0521331811
  • The Saddamic verses: a personal sketch in verse and prose of the Iraqi conflict from August 1990 by Charmian Steele, introduction by Sir Anthony Parsons, illustrated exclusively by the work of photographers for The Independent; Charmian Steele, UK, 1991. ISBN 0951852205
  • Peace in the Middle East? (introduction); The Oxford International Review (special issue), 1992. ISSN 0966-0054
  • Terrorism and democracy: some contemporary cases, report of a study group of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, ed. Peter Janke, introduction by Sir Anthony Parsons; Macmillan in association with the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, London, 1992. ISBN 0333554884
  • The United Nations in the Post-Cold War Era in International Relations, December 1992, vol.11 no.3, pp189–200
  • Central Asia, the last decolonisation, David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, Occasional paper no.4, London 1993
  • The Security Council : an uncertain future, David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, Occasional paper no.8, London, 1994. ISSN 1353-9884
  • Human rights and civil conflict in the post-imperial world (Eileen Illtyd David memorial lecture, 1993); University College of Swansea, 1994. ISBN 0860761002
  • From Cold War to Hot Peace: UN interventions 1947–1994; Michael Joseph, London, 1995. ISBN 0718138287


  1. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 23 August 1945
  2. ^ Diplomatic notes from 1978, The Guardian, London, 30 December 2008
  3. ^ Parsons, Claudia (1995). Century Story. The Book Guild. ISBN 1-85776-027-1.


Offices heldEdit

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Peter Ramsbotham
Ambassador to Iran
Succeeded by
Sir John Graham
Preceded by
Ivor Richard
UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Succeeded by
Sir John Thomson

External linksEdit