Francis Richards (diplomat)

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Sir Francis Richards
Governor of Gibraltar Sir Francis Richards - 2005.jpg
Sir Francis Richards at the ceremony of the Keys, Gibraltar
Born 1945
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Commands held Director of the Government Communications Headquarters
Governor of Gibraltar
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

Sir Francis Neville Richards KCMG CVO DL (born 1945), was Her Majesty's Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 2003 to 2006, and the director of the Government Communications Headquarters from 1998 to 2003.


Richards is the son of Sir Brooks Richards, who served in Gibraltar with the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, and was later the Cabinet Office's Coordinator of Intelligence in the late 1970s.[1] Francis Richards was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge and then commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets, serving with the United Nations Force in Cyprus.[2]

After Richards' army career was cut short by injury, he entered the Diplomatic Service, serving in New Delhi and Namibia and holding a number of senior posts at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[2] He was the first High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Namibia.[3]

He was director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham from 1998 to 2003. On his departure from GCHQ Richards said that the role was "...the best job I have ever had or ever expect to have...but you need to keep things fresh."[4] Richards would later criticise Malcolm Rifkind, the chair of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, saying that it was "not a very good idea" for a former Conservative minister to chair the committee.[5] Richards also questioned whether Rifkind was "well-placed to command confidence."[5] Richards was the chairman of the trustees of Bletchley Park from 2006 to 2011 and the chairman of the Imperial War Museum from December 2011.[6]

Richards served as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar from 2003 to 2006.[7]

Sir Francis Richards leaving Gibraltar on HMS Monmouth

At the end of his term in Gibraltar on 17 July 2006, Richards handed-over the keys to the fortress of Gibraltar, in the traditional 'Ceremony of the Keys', and departed on HMS Monmouth. He was succeeded as Governor in September 2006 by Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fulton, KBE, a former Commandant General of the Royal Marines.[8]

An honorary senior fellow at the University of Birmingham, Richards was appointed Director of its Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy in April 2007.[9][10][11] He currently stands on the board of Governors at Rendcomb College.

Richards is married with two children.


  1. Aldrich 2011, p. 504
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Governor 11 March 2003
  3. "High Commission history". British High Commission in Windhoek. 3 Aug 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "New chief for GCHQ". BBC News Online. 19 December 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Snowden leaks: Rifkind's spy scrutiny role questioned". BBC News Online. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Sir Francis Richards Appointed New Chairman of Imperial War Museum" (PDF). Imperial War Museum. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. NSI appoints Sir Francis Richards as new Chairman
  8. Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society
  9. University of Birmingham
  • Aldrich, Robert J. (2011). GCHQ. London: Harper Press. ISBN 978-0-007312-665.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Kevin Tebbitt
Director of GCHQ
July 1998 – April 2003
Succeeded by
Sir David Pepper
Preceded by
Sir David Durie
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Fulton