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Sir Peter Harold Reginald Marshall CMG KCMG CVO (30 July 1924-10 June 2023)

The College would like to share the news that our Honorary Fellow Sir Peter Marshall CMG, KCMG, CVO has died at the age of ninety-eight.

Sir Peter was born in Reading, Berkshire, on 30 July 1924, the son of Reginald and Winifred Marshall. His father, who had served as a lieutenant in the Northamptonshire Regiment in the First World War, was an auditor. Educated at Tonbridge School, Peter matriculated into Corpus in 1943 during the Second World War. Later that year he joined the Royal Air Force as a navigator; he always counted himself lucky to survive, which added to his naturally sunny disposition and optimistic outlook. Peter returned to the College in 1946 (the same year as Michael McCrum), where he read the Economics Tripos. Following graduation in 1949, he joined the Diplomatic Service. His early postings included four years (1952-6) in Washington, DC as private secretary to the ambassador, first Sir Oliver Franks then Sir Roger Makins, and later served for several years in Baghdad and Bangkok. His economic expertise was made use of in a series of increasingly senior appointments in Paris, Geneva, and London. From 1975 to 1979 he was UK representative on the Economic and Social Council of the UN, and from 1979 to 1983 ambassador and permanent representative to the UN and other international organisations in Geneva. He was knighted on completion of that term. Long a supporter of the Commonwealth, Peter became Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General (Economic) from 1983 to 1988, collaborating closely with the Secretary-General, Shridath (Sonny) Ramphal, at a time when the Commonwealth Secretariat still had important programmes in the social and economic sphere. He was remembered by other Commonwealth diplomats as great fun, immensely charming and persuasive, but resolute in achieving his desired outcomes.

In a very long retirement Peter took on a huge number of roles, many of them Commonwealth-related. He was, inter alia, chairman of the Commonwealth Trust and the Royal Commonwealth Society (1988-92), president of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford (1990-4), chairman of the Joint Commonwealth Societies Council (1993-2003), and patron of the Commonwealth Association (2010-23). Peter was made an Honorary Fellow of Corpus in 1989 and of the University of Westminster.

Peter was married twice and widowed twice; first to Patricia Stoddart, and secondly to Judith Tomlin. He and Patricia had a son and a daughter. In his early life Peter was a keen sportsman, and even into very old age he would continue playing tennis. He died on 10 June 2023 aged ninety-eight. His greatest love was cricket, and it is appropriate that he died peacefully while watching the World Test championship on television.

With grateful acknowledgements to The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs.