Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, normally referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior, high-ranking official within the Government of the United Kingdom and head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign Secretary is a member of the Cabinet, and the post is considered one of the Great Offices of State. It is considered a position similar to that of Foreign Minister in other countries. The Foreign Secretary reports directly to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The Foreign Secretary's remit includes: relations with foreign countries, matters pertaining to the Commonwealth of Nations and the Overseas Territories in addition to the promotion of British interests abroad. The Foreign Secretary also has ministerial oversight for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The Foreign Secretary works out of the Foreign Office in Whitehall, and the post's official residences are 1 Carlton Gardens in London and Chevening in Kent. Margaret Beckett, appointed in 2006 by Tony Blair, is the only woman to have held the post.
The position of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was created in the British governmental reorganisation of 1782, in which the Northern and Southern Departments became the Home and Foreign Offices, respectively. Eventually, the position of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs came into existence in 1968 with the merger of the functions of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs into a single Department of State. The India Office was a constituent predecessor department of the Foreign Office, as were the Colonial Office and the Dominions Office.
List of Foreign Secretaries
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
- Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
- Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs
- Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
- Secretary of State for the Colonies
- Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
- Foreign minister
- Great Offices of State