Charles Powell

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Person.png Charles Powell  Rdf-icon.png
(diplomat, politician, businessman)
Born6 July 1941
ParentsJohn Frederick Powell
SpouseCarla Bonardi
Member ofIntegrity Initiative/Cluster/Spain, Le Cercle
Le Cercle, House of Lords, Key advisor to Thatcher, on the payroll of various defence companies

Employment.png British Business Ambassador

In office
2010 - Present

Employment.png Co-Chairman

In office
2006 - 2014
EmployerAsia Task Force

Employment.png Director

In office
1995 - Present
EmployerLouis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy

Employment.png Director

In office
1992 - Present
EmployerJardine Matheson Group Companies


Charles Powell was educated at The Cathedral Choir School, Canterbury, The King's School, Canterbury and then got a BA in modern history from New College (Oxford)in 1963.


Charles Powell became a diplomat in 1963. His first posting was as Third Secretary to Helsinki in 1965, where he was promoted to Second Secretary. In 1968, he returned to London, spending three years at the FCO. He was posted as First Secretary to Washington, D.C. in 1971, and became the Ambassador's Private Secretary. Subsequent postings were to Bonn in 1974 and, as Counsellor, to UKREP Brussels in 1980.[1]

Al-Yamamah arms deal

Powell was seconded to 10 Downing Street and served as Private Secretary to Margaret Thatcher (1983 to 1990) and then as Private Secretary to John Major (1990 to 1991). During his time working for Mrs Thatcher, he became one of her most trusted foreign policy aides, and helped broker the Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia.[2]

Russian Business

E. P. Heidner refers to Lord Powell as a "key member" of "Diligence and its sister company New Bridge... demonstrat[ing] the Western political and financial muscle working with the Yeltsin family".[3]

House of Lords

He is a member of the House of Lords and has been on a range of committees since 2000:

  • Procedure Committee Jun 2015 -
  • Constitution Committee Jun 2010 - Mar 2015
  • European Union Committee Nov 2006 - Apr 2010
  • EU Sub-Committee B - Internal Market Nov 2006 - Apr 2010
  • Economic Affairs Committee Jun 2005 - Nov 2006
  • EU Sub-Committee C - Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Policy Nov 2003 - Nov 2004[4]

Brunei conflict of interest

In 2005, it was revealed that Powell had been acting as Tony Blair's special envoy to Brunei, an unpaid role, for several years. This was controversial because Powell was on the payroll of BAE Systems, and the company was at the time in dispute with Brunei over the purchase of three warships. Lord Powell denied a conflict of interest over both his links to BAE and the fact his brother Jonathan Powell was serving as Tony Blair's chief of staff.[5]


As of 2015, he was receiving a salary in the following capacities:

Deep political connections

He attended Le Cercle in the early 1990s. As of 2015, he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations/Global Board of Advisers.[4]


His brother, Jonathan Powell, was chief of staff to Tony Blair throughout his period as UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, and his father was Air Vice-Marshal John Frederick Powell.

6 July 1941|


  1. The Diplomatic Service List 1989 (page 278), HMSO, ISBN 0-11-591707-1.
  2. Leigh, David (2007-06-07). "BAE Files: Charles Powell". London: BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-18.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  3. Document:Collateral_Damage_911
  4. a b c
  5. MacAskill, Ewen (2005-10-08). "Blair's special envoy to Brunei on BAE payroll". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2008-03-18.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").