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Sir Simon Gerard McDonald KCMG KCVO (born 9 March 1961) is a British diplomat who is Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service.

Sir Simon McDonald

Germany- Simon McDonald (8484625313).jpg
Permanent Under-Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Head of HM Diplomatic Service
Assumed office
September 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Sec. of StatePhilip Hammond
Boris Johnson
Jeremy Hunt
Dominic Raab
Preceded bySir Simon Fraser
British Ambassador to Germany
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentChristian Wulff
Joachim Gauck
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
ChancellorAngela Merkel
Preceded bySir Michael Arthur
Succeeded bySir Sebastian Wood
British Ambassador to Israel
In office
MonarchElizabeth II
PresidentMoshe Katzav
British Prime MinisterTony Blair
Israeli Prime MinisterAriel Sharon
Ehud Olmert
Preceded bySir Sherard Cowper-Coles
Succeeded bySir Tom Phillips
Personal details
Born (1961-03-09) 9 March 1961 (age 58)
Salford, England
Spouse(s)Olivia Wright
Children4 (2 sons, 2 daughters)
Alma materPembroke College, Cambridge


McDonald was educated at De La Salle College, Salford, and read History at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1982 and served in Jeddah, Riyadh, Bonn and Washington, D.C. as well as in London. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary 2001–03; Ambassador to Israel 2003–06; Director for Iraq at the FCO 2006–07; Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister and Head of the Overseas and Defence Secretariat at the Cabinet Office 2007–10; and was appointed Ambassador to Germany in October 2010.[1][2]

In September 2015, McDonald became Permanent Under-Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, replacing Sir Simon Fraser.[3][4][5] As of 2015, McDonald was paid a salary of between £180,000 and £184,999 by the Foreign Office, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[6]


McDonald was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2004 New Year Honours[7] and Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to British foreign policy and British interests in Germany.[8][9] He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) during the Queen's state visit to Germany in June 2015.[10]


In 1989 Simon McDonald married Olivia, daughter of Sir Patrick Wright, later Baron Wright of Richmond, who had also been Permanent Under-Secretary at the FCO (1986–1991). Simon and Olivia have two sons and two daughters.[1]


  1. ^ a b McDONALD, Simon Gerard, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press Dec 2013
  2. ^ Simon McDonald CMG, British Ambassador to Germany,
  3. ^ "Appointment of new Permanent Under Secretary to the FCO". Foreign & Commonwealth Office. 29 July 2015.
  4. ^ Fraser, Simon (29 July 2015). "Simon Fraser on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 31 July 2015. Many congrats to @SMcDonaldFCO on his appointment as my successor @foreignoffice. Great choice.
  5. ^ Parker, George (31 July 2015). "Top Foreign Office mandarin cautions on hollowing out UK diplomacy". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 - GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  7. ^ "No. 57155". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2003. p. 3.
  8. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b4.
  9. ^ "Birthday Honours lists 2014". Honours. HM Government. 14 June 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
  10. ^ "No. 2360003". The London Gazette. 30 June 2015. p. 2742.
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles
Principal Private Secretary
to the Foreign Secretary

Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Adams
Preceded by
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles
British Ambassador to Israel
Succeeded by
Sir Tom Phillips
Preceded by
Sir Michael Arthur
British Ambassador to Germany
Succeeded by
Sir Sebastian Wood
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Simon Fraser
Permanent Under-Secretary at the
Foreign and Commonwealth Office