Chief Executive, Commonwealth Summit Unit

Tim Hitchens


Tim Hitchens is currently the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit.

He was most recently a member of the Foreign Office Board, until April 2017. Until December 2016, he was the British Ambassador in Japan. He has previously been Director of Africa and Director of Europe in the Foreign Office, and Deputy Ambassador in Paris.

Tim was born in 1962 and joined the Foreign Office in 1983. He trained in Japanese and worked in Tokyo (1985-9). He has a broad interest in Asia, having worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan (1994-97) and in the South East Asia department.

He also has Europe experience, having been Private Secretary to the Minister for Europe (1990-94). He has been speechwriter to the Foreign Secretary, and Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen (1998-2002).

Tim is married to Sara; they have two children who work in London.

In January, he was elected as President of Wolfson College Oxford, a position he will take up in May 2018.

Previous experience

  • 2012 - 2016: Ambassador to Japan
  • 2010 - 2012: Director Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Responsibility for Britain’s relations with the continent of Africa.Member of the Foreign Office Board 2012
  • 2008 - 2010: Director, European Political Affairs, FCO. Responsibility for 41 posts across Europe, from Lisbon to Kyiv to Ankara. Policy responsibility for non-EU matters.
  • 2005 - 2008: Minister, British Embassy, Paris.
  • 2003 - 2005: Head, Africa Department (Equatorial), FCO. Overseeing countries in west, central and east Africa
  • 2002 - 2003: Head, Consular Crisis Team
  • 1998 - 2002: Deputy Private Secretary to The Queen, Buckingham Palace. Responsible for full range of tasks in 3 person Private Office: managing republican debate in Australia; role of monarchy with new Scottish parliament; conception and execution of Golden Jubilee programme in 2002.
  • 1997 - 1998: Deputy Head, South East Asia Dept. South East Asian Financial Crisis
  • 1995 - 1997: Head, Political Team, Islamabad. Reporting and lobbying on: Pakistan nuclear and missile programme; Kashmir dispute ; and coverage of Afghan issues (no Embassy in Kabul)
  • 1994 - 1995: Speechwriter to Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. Also planning staff member for Asian issues.
  • 1991 - 1995: Private Secretary to Europe Minister. Negotiation of Maastricht Treaty, then passage of Maastricht Bill; UK Presidency of EU in 1992.
  • 1989 - 1991: HM Treasury Officer, Europe Department (Internal)
  • 1985 - 1989: Second Secretary, Tokyo; economic team, interpreter.
  • Joined FCO in 1983


Scholar at Christ’s College Cambridge, graduating in 1983 in English Literature.

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Other Information

  • Born 1962; diplomat since 1983
  • Fluent French and Japanese
  • Experience in negotiation, running Private Offices, media work, and running a large mission and networks (250 people in France, 4000 in Europe)

Chief Executive, Commonwealth Summit Unit

Tim Hitchens is the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit. He is responsible for delivering the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018, working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and member states. His dedicated unit, based in the Cabinet Office, will report directly to the Prime Minister.

Previous roles in government

  1. Director General, Economic and Consular (Acting)

    • 2017 to 2017
  2. British Ambassador to Japan

    • 2012 to 2016