Board of Governors

Ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts

Ambassador, Sir Ivor Roberts

Sir Ivor Roberts, KCMG, MA Oxford, FCIL

Born in 1946 in Liverpool. He was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and at Keble College, Oxford (Open Gomm Scholar) where he was a University triallist in rugby. He graduated in Modern Languages in 1968 and took his MA in 1972.

He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1968 as a Third Secretary in West African Department. A year later he was posted to the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon. After a spell in 1970 in the Arabian Department of the FCO he was posted in September of that year to Paris.  

He was acting Head of Chancery in Luxembourg in 1973 before returning later that year to the FCO to serve firstly in Eastern European and Soviet Department (Balkans desk), then in Western European Department (German desk) and subsequently in European Integration Department, where he worked on the European Community's Common Agricultural Policy and the European Parliament.

He was transferred in January 1978 to Canberra as First Secretary in Chancery. In 1980 he was posted temporarily to the newly independent Pacific state of Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) as Political Adviser at the time of a rebellion. He returned to Canberra as Head of the Economic and Commercial Department and Agricultural Adviser until 1982. He was then moved back to London once more to take up the post of Deputy Head of News Department in the FCO. From 1989 to 1993 he was Minister in the British Embassy in Madrid. He was appointed Chargé d'Affaires and Consul - General in Belgrade in March 1994, and after recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Kingdom, he became Ambassador. During his time in Belgrade he conducted negotiations on behalf of the international mediators (Lord Owen and Carl Bildt) with both the Yugoslav authorities and the Bosnian Serbs. He was also involved in the negotiations for the release of British soldiers held hostage by the Bosnian Serbs in May/June 1995. He left Belgrade at the end of 1997. 

From January 1998 to February 1999 he was on a sabbatical as a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, Oxford, writing and lecturing on his experiences in Yugoslavia.

From February 1999 to March 2003 he served as British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and from May 2003 to September 2006 as Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. 

In 1974 he married Elizabeth Smith, now Lady Roberts, a scholar of French poetry and former diplomat in the Australian Foreign Service who has been a University lecturer in Balkan history and has written a history of Montenegro published in 2006. They have two sons and one daughter. 

Sir Ivor speaks fluent Italian, French and Spanish and passable Serbo-Croat. His hobbies include Italian opera, theatre, photography and sport (skiing, golf and tennis). He was for many years a rugby referee.  

Sir Ivor is an Honorary Fellow of Keble College Oxford, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (FCIL) and a member of the Advisory Board of and frequent contributor to the MacKinder Forum dedicated to the work of the great geographer. He is a Patron of the Venice in Peril Fund and a Member of the Council of the British School in Rome.  

In the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List he was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) and in the 2000 List was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG).  

He retired from the Diplomatic Service in September 2006 on his election as the President of Trinity College