- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Sir Nicholas Henderson, a former British ambassador to the U.S. who helped build support for Britain’s war effort in the Falkland Islands, died in his sleep Monday morning in London, his family said. He was 89.

Henderson also served as ambassador to Poland, Spain, Germany and France, and as private secretary to Britain’s foreign minister.

Alexandra Drogheda, his daughter, said Henderson played an instrumental role in building support in the U.S. for Britain’s decision to invade the Falkland Islands _ known in Spanish as Las Malvinas _ after they were seized by Argentina in 1982.

She said his close friendships with President Ronald Reagan, first lady Nancy Reagan and other senior U.S. officials including Secretary of State Alexander Haig helped win support for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s position.

“He was one of the first diplomats to understand the power of the media,” Drogheda said. “He went on television a lot to explain the government’s position.”

She said her father also became known in Washington and elsewhere for his “stylish and eccentric” style of dress.

“It was stylish English dressing, but everything was slightly awry,” she said. “He had already retired once when he was brought out of retirement to serve in Washington. He loved Washington and felt he understood it very well.”

Henderson wrote several books, and excerpts from his private diary have been posted on the Margaret Thatcher Foundation Web site, offering rare insights into the pleasures and pressures of diplomatic life.

He described, for example, how much planning went into an official dinner at the British Embassy in Washington in which Thatcher hosted the Reagans in 1981.

Henderson described how Thatcher loved to dance and seemed disappointed that President Reagan left without asking her onto the dance floor.

“So I went up to her and said, ‘prime minister, would you like to dance?’” and then escorted her onto the floor.

“Mrs. T. accepted my offer without complication or inhibition and, once we were well launched on the floor, confessed to me that that was what she had been wanting to do all the evening,” he wrote, “She loved dancing, something, so I found out, that she did extremely well.”

Henderson’s wife Mary died in 2004. She was a one-time journalist who was active in the British fashion world and worked with the Laura Ashley company.

In retirement, Henderson divided his time between his London home and a country house in Wiltshire, where he spent long hours toiling in the garden.

He also played a role in development of the tunnel linking France and England, as chairman of the Channel Tunnel Group.

He is survived by his daughter and three grandchildren.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide