General John Nicholas Reynolds Houghton, Baron Houghton of Richmond, GCB, CBE, DL (/ˈhɔːtən/ HAW-tən; born 18 October 1954) is a retired senior British Army officer and former Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) of the British Armed Forces. He was appointed CDS in July 2013, following the retirement of General Sir David Richards. He served as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, the Green Howards in Northern Ireland during The Troubles and later became Commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland. He deployed as Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq during the Iraq War. Later, he became Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters and served as Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff until assuming the position of CDS. Houghton retired from the British Army in July 2016, and was succeeded as CDS by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.

The Lord Houghton of Richmond
Official portrait, 2023
Born (1954-10-18) 18 October 1954 (age 69)
Otley, West Yorkshire, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1974–2016
Service number497441
Commands heldChief of the Defence Staff (2013–16)
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (2009–13)
Chief of Joint Operations (2006–09)
39th Infantry Brigade (1997–99)
1st Battalion, the Green Howards (1991–94)
Battles/warsThe Troubles
Iraq War
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Knight Grand Commander of the Order of Military Service (Malaysia)
Margaret Glover
(m. 1982)
Other workConstable of the Tower (2016–2022)
Member of the House of Lords
Assumed office
20 November 2017
Personal details
Political partyNone (crossbencher)

Early life edit

Houghton was born on 18 October 1954 in Otley, near Leeds, and is the son of Frank and Peggy Houghton.[1] He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, a private school near Bradford.[2] In 1977, he graduated from St Peter's College, Oxford, having taken an in-Service Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern History.[3][4]

Military career edit

After attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Houghton was commissioned into the Green Howards as a second lieutenant on 9 March 1974.[5] He was promoted to lieutenant on 9 March 1976,[6] to captain on 9 September 1980[7] and to major on 30 September 1986.[8] He was appointed Military Assistant to the Chief of Staff British Army of the Rhine and subsequently became a member of the Directing Staff at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham.[9] Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 30 June 1991,[10] he became Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Green Howards in 1991[4] and was deployed to Northern Ireland in 1993.[11]

Houghton was made Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff at HQ Land Command in 1994 and he attended the Higher Command and Staff Course in 1997.[4] Promoted to brigadier on 31 December 1997 with seniority from 30 June 1997,[12] he became Commander of 39 Infantry Brigade in Northern Ireland in 1997 and was Director of Military Operations at the Ministry of Defence from December 1999 to July 2002.[4] He was promoted to major general on 26 July 2002[13] and was made Chief of Staff of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps that year[1] before becoming Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations) in 2004.[4]

Promoted to lieutenant general on 14 October 2005,[14] Houghton was deployed as Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq in October 2005.[4] He became Chief of Joint Operations at Permanent Joint Headquarters (UK) in 2006[4] and, after being relieved of that post on 13 March 2009,[4] he was promoted to general and appointed Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff on 5 May 2009.[15]

Houghton took over as Chief of the Defence Staff on 18 July 2013.[16] He stated that one of his key objectives was to re-shape the Armed forces in the post-Afghanistan era.[17] Houghton also raised concerns about the Armed Forces' abilities with the personnel and budget cuts.[18] As of 2015, Houghton was paid a salary of between £255,000 and £259,999 by the department, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[19]

In January 2016, the government announced that Houghton would be replaced by Sir Stuart Peach as Chief of the Defence Staff in the summer of 2016.[20] Houghton handed over to Peach on 14 July 2016.[21]

Retirement edit

Holding the Sword of State in Parliament, 2022

In 2016, Houghton was appointed Constable of The Tower of London, as the monarch's representative for five years, replacing Richard Dannatt, Baron Dannatt.[22][23] This is primarily a ceremonial post but the Constable is also a trustee of Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Armouries.[24][25] He left his role in 2022 with Sir Gordon Messenger replacing him.[26]

On 20 November 2017, Houghton joined the House of Lords as a crossbencher.[27]

Honours and decorations edit

On 12 October 1993, Houghton was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) "in recognition of distinguished service in Northern Ireland".[11] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) on 14 April 2000 "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Northern Ireland during the period 1 April 1999 to 30 September 1999".[28] In 2006, he was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit by the United States government "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services during coalition operations in Iraq".[29] He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2008 Birthday Honours,[30] and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.[31][32]

Houghton was Colonel of the Regiment of 158 (Royal Anglian) Transport Regiment (Volunteers) from 1 November 2003[33] to 1 September 2008[34] and honorary Colonel Commandant of the King's Division from 10 December 2005[35] to 10 December 2008[36] as well as Colonel of the Regiment of The Yorkshire Regiment from 6 June 2006[37] to 6 June 2011.[38] He was appointed Colonel Commandant of the Intelligence Corps on 19 July 2008[39] and Aide-de-Camp General (ADC Gen) to The Queen on 1 October 2009.[40]

In June 2015, Houghton also received an honorary Panglima Gagah Angkatan Tentera (PGAT) award from the Deputy Minister for Defence of Malaysia.[41]

In October 2017, it was announced that a life peerage would be conferred on Houghton.[42][43] On 20 November of the same year, he was created Baron Houghton of Richmond, of Richmond in the County of North Yorkshire.[44] He was chosen to carry the Sword of Temporal Justice at the 2023 Coronation.[45]

Personal life edit

In 1982 Houghton married Margaret Glover: they have one son, the comedian Tom Houghton (born 1984),[46][47] and one daughter.[1] His interests include golf, sailing, shooting, cooking and history.[4]

Arms edit

Coat of arms of Nick Houghton
Coronet of a Baron
A Hound statant proper, the dexter paw resting on a Trumpet Or
Mantling Argent and Vert.
Helmet of a Peer
Vert, between in chief three Roses Argent, barbed and seeded Or, and in base a representation of the White Tower of London Argent, two Swords in saltire Argent hilted Or.
Dexter: A Lion rampant Gules, armed and langued Azure, statant upon a Mask of Comedy Argent.
Sinister: A Horse rampant Or, statant upon a closed Book Gules charged with a Quill pen Or, feathered Argent, bendwise.
A Mount Vert.
Latin: Good and Faithful
The circlet, laurel branches and collar as Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (Appointed KCB 2008 and GCB 2011)

References edit

  1. ^ a b c 'Houghton, General Sir Nicholas' in Who's Who 2010, A & C Black, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-1414-8
  2. ^ "John Nicholas Reynolds Houghton". Burke's Peerage. Burke's Peerage (UK) Limited. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Notable Alumni". St Peter's College, Oxford. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Biography at as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff". Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  5. ^ "No. 46270". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 April 1974. p. 5057.
  6. ^ "No. 46845". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 March 1976. p. 3579.
  7. ^ "No. 48331". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 October 1980. p. 13956.
  8. ^ "No. 50677". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 October 1986. p. 12945.
  9. ^ "General Sir Nicholas Houghton GCB CBE, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS)". Newcastle University. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  10. ^ "No. 52615". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 July 1991. p. 11597.
  11. ^ a b "No. 53453". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 October 1993. p. 16387.
  12. ^ "No. 55006". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 January 1998. p. 101.
  13. ^ "No. 56646". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 July 2002. p. 9095.
  14. ^ "No. 57789". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 October 2005. p. 13419.
  15. ^ "No. 59052". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 May 2009. p. 7596.
  16. ^ "Sir David Richards to become a lord – after overseeing the sacking of 20,000 troops". Daily Mirror. 13 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Exclusive interview with the new Chief of the Defence Staff" (PDF). Defence Focus. August 2013. p. 8. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  18. ^ "BBC News – Chief of defence staff warns of military expectations". BBC News. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 – GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  20. ^ BBC News (22 January 2016). "Sir Stuart Peach named as new head of UK armed forces". BBC News. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  21. ^ "Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL". UK Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  22. ^ "Lord Dannatt Leaves Constable of the Tower of London Role". Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  23. ^ "Letters patent appointing Lord Houghton of Richmond as Constable of the Tower of London". Crown Office. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  24. ^ "Lord Houghton of Richmond". Hospitality and Catering News. 11 October 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  25. ^ "Constable of the Tower of London: General Sir Nicholas Houghton". GOV.UK. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 7 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  26. ^ "General Sir Gordon makes history as first Royal Marine in charge of Tower of London".
  27. ^ "Lord Houghton of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  28. ^ "No. 55819". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 April 2000. p. 4251.
  29. ^ "No. 58183". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 December 2006. p. 17361.
  30. ^ "No. 58729". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2008. p. 2.
  31. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 2.
  32. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours List 2011" (PDF). Direct Gov.UK. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  33. ^ "No. 57122". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 November 2003. p. 14549.
  34. ^ "No. 58844". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 October 2008. p. 15296.
  35. ^ "No. 57887". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 January 2006. p. 1364.
  36. ^ "No. 58912". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 December 2008. p. 19637.
  37. ^ "No. 58191". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 December 2006. p. 17824.
  38. ^ "No. 59803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 June 2011. p. 10703.
  39. ^ "No. 58771". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 July 2008. p. 11005.
  40. ^ "No. 59216". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 October 2009. p. 17989.
  41. ^ UKK. "Majlis Pemakaian Pingat Oleh Timbalan Menteri Pertahanan". Archived from the original on 15 June 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  42. ^ "Life peerages". Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  43. ^ "Former Met Police chief and ex-bishop of London among five new life peers". ITV. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  44. ^ "No. 62119". The London Gazette. 24 November 2017. p. 21662.
  45. ^ "Coronation order of service in full". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  46. ^ "Tom Houghton – The Official Website – Tom Houghton Comedy". Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  47. ^ "What it feels like to... live in the Tower of London". Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  48. ^ "April 2018 Newsletter (No. 54) – College of Arms".
Military offices
Preceded by Senior British Military Representative
and Deputy Commanding General, Multinational Force, Iraq

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief of Joint Operations
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
Preceded by Chief of the Defence Staff
New title Colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Constable of the Tower of London
Followed by
Sir Gordon Messenger
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Houghton of Richmond
Followed by
The Lord Tyrie