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AM100 Dinner: hear from the man who was at the centre of power the day the world changed

Sir Christopher Meyer KCMG

“We live in the most uncertain times that I have known since I was in Moscow back in 1984.

“Back then we had no idea how scared Russia was of war, just how close it was to a pre-emptive attack against the United States.

“Now I think people are more savvy, a little more aware of what’s going on…and they have every right to be scared.”

Sir Christopher Meyer (pictured) was 37 years in the British Diplomatic Service. His career culminated as Ambassador to the United States during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies between 1997 and 2003.

His five and a half years in Washington, which made him the longest-serving British Ambassador to the USA since the Second World War, coincided with 9/11, the wars in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, and the preparation for war in Iraq.  

Taking to the podium as guest speaker at this year’s AM100 dinner on June 22, Meyer assures a unique blend of insights for behind the scenes of situations which have seen the world’s power brokers meet their most daunting challenges.

But he insists there will be humour too.

“It may seem unlikely, but I will attempt to share a few jokes and inject some humour. I’m well aware that people don’t want things to be too heavy and the last thing I want to do is scare people to death.”

While he has held postings as Ambassador to Germany and in the former Soviet Union, Spain and the European Union in Brussels, he was also Press Secretary to Prime Minister Sir John Major, Press Secretary to Foreign Secretary, the late Lord Howe, and speech writer to three Foreign Secretaries, James Callaghan, Anthony Crosland and David Owen.

He concedes, however, that most people are still keen to speak to him about the “day that changed the world” - September 11, 2001.

Meyer was sharing official accommodation with former Prime Minister John Major, in Washington, when the two passenger planes hit the twin towers and was within earshot of the fourth tragedy of the day, American Airlines Flight 77 colliding with the Pentagon.

He said: “As soon as I saw that second plane hit on the television I knew that the world had changed.

“I called Condoleeza Rice and she said straight away that they believed it was Osama Bin Laden.

“After that it was a case of keeping the Prime Minister informed and establishing just how many Brits had lost their lives.

“Some of the days that followed, those I spent in New York, were the most traumatic I have ever witnessed. The stories that came from that day were heart-breaking.”

In the days that followed Meyer was party to meetings between then Prime Minister Tony Blair and former President George W. Bush.

He believes Bush was underrated as a President, unlike the current incumbent.

“Between Trump and Putin we are left with a very worrying situation. Relations really are as bad as they have ever been.

“People have forgotten what was learnt at the end of the cold war in terms of political relations. They need to re-learn the rules very quickly.”

Sir Christopher is now a regular television, radio and newspaper commentator on international affairs and the media. 

In 2005 he published DC Confidential, a memoir of his time in the Diplomatic Service.

A further book, Getting Our Way: 500 Years of Adventure and Intrigue: the Inside Story of British Diplomacy, was published in 2009 and accompanied a three-part TV series for BBC4.

In 2012 he presented and co-wrote a six-part TV documentary series for Sky Atlantic, Networks of Power and in 2016 he appeared in and helped research Inside The War Room: World War 3 for BBC2.   

In 2013 he published as an Amazon Kindle Single a personal memoir, Only Child.

Attending the 2017 AM100 Dinner

Book your places at the AM100 Dinner, June 22, at London Marriott, Grosvenor Square, London, through the AM100 events website.

 



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