Lord Watson of Richmond is the son of the Rev. John William Watson and Edna Mary Peters. He was educated at the Diocesan College, Cape Town in South Africa and Kingswood School in Bath. He was an Open Scholar in history at Jesus College, Cambridge 1959, a State Scholar 1959 and was awarded an MA in 1963. He was the Vice-President of the Cambridge Union.
Watson's German-born wife Karen is an artist: they have two sons, Stephen and Martin.
Lord Watson is Chairman of CTN Communications, a creative communications agency based on St. Martin's Lane in central London. He advises the leaders of major UK and international companies on their communications, with clients including BP, BAE Systems and Tesco.
Lord Watson joined the BBC after graduating from Cambridge University in 1963, and later became a regular presenter for The Money Programme on BBC2 and Panorama on BBC1. He also reported on LWTV, Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and wrote and presented award-winning documentaries over many years.
He is a Fellow and Former Chairman of the Royal Television Society. From 1976 to 1980 he was responsible for media at the European Commission.
In politics, Lord Watson's notable role was as President of the Liberal Party. He was appointed CBE in 1985 and, in 1999, was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Watson of Richmond, of Richmond in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. He is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union.
He stood for election four times: as the Liberal candidate for Richmond in the general elections of October 1974 and 1979, and as the Liberal candidate (SDP-Liberal Alliance) for Richmond and Barnes in the general elections of 1983 and 1987. On all four occasions, he came in second place, losing to the Conservatives.
Outside of the United Kingdom, Lord Watson is Chair of the Albanian British Chamber of Commerce and is a Member of the European Parliament's High Level Group on Romania. His political interests are the "worldwide use of English, EU enlargement and transatlantic relationship".Executive Chairman, CTN Communications
Executive Chairman, Havas Media
Chairman, Nexus Strategic Partnerships
Chairman, Coca-Cola European Advisory Board
Non-Executive Chairman, I-COMP
Chairman, The Council of Commonwealth Societies
Chairman, The European Movement UK
Chairman, The Father Thames Trust
Chairman, The Arcadia Advisory Board
British Chairman, Königswinter Anglo-German Conference
President, British-German Association
Co-Chair, Jamestown 1607-2007 British Committee
Non-Executive Chairman, Raisin Social (a wine importer)
Member, The Executive Committee of the Pilgrims Society
Member, The Prince of Wales Business Leaders' Forum
Patron, The Richmond Society
Patron, Museum of Richmond
Patron, The Richmond in Europe Association
International Chairman Emeritus, The English-Speaking Union
Chairman Emeritus, Royal Television Society
Former Executive Board Member, UNICEF UK
President, The European-Atlantic Movement (TEAM)
Lord Watson holds a range of visiting and honorary posts at universities in the United Kingdom and abroad.High Steward, Cambridge University
Visiting Fellow, Oriel College, Oxford University
Honorary Fellow, Jesus College, Cambridge
Chairman, Cambridge University Chemistry Advisory Board
Life Patron, Cambridge's Churchill Archives Centre
Chairman, The Cambridge Foundation
Honorary Professor, University of Birmingham
Trustee, The American International University in London
Former Chairman, Governors at Westminster College, Oxford
President, The British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education
Honorary Doctor, St Lawrence University, USA
Visiting Professor, Leuven, Belgium
Honorary Professor, Saint Petersburg State University, Russia
Honorary Professor, Korea University, South Korea
Trustee, The Centre for British Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin
Europe at Risk was Lord Waton's first publication, released in 1972.
The Germans: Who Are They Now? is a non-fiction book, first published in 1992.
Eminent Europeans: personalities who shaped contemporary Europe is a collection of 17 essays on the personalities who have shaped modern Europe, for which Lord Watson contributed the essay entitled Thatcher and Kohl: Old Rivalries Revisited. The book was published in 1996, and edited by Martyn Bond, Julie Smith and William Wallace.
Published in 2007, Jamestown: The Voyage of English is an exploration of the global significance of the arrival of the Godspeed, the Susan Constant and the Discovery on America's East Coast in 1607. These three ships carried the ideas and the language which would shape the modern world. Lord Watson tells the story of a precarious venture that nearly failed. But it succeeded against the odds, planting the seeds of representative government, capitalism and the rule of law. These ideas were expressed in a language which had just reached a peak of power and vitality – the English of Shakespeare, Tyndale and Cranmer's Prayer Book. The year 1607 marks the start of the voyage of English from the language of 4 million inhabitants of the British Isles to its role as today's working language of the global village used by almost 2 billion people world-wide.
The Queen and the USA is a non-fiction book published in March 2012 by Dementi Milestone Publishing. During 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 60th anniversary of her role as Queen of the United Kingdom. This book explores and celebrates the special relationship between the American and British people during this period, and honours Queen Elizabeth II for her role and contribution to a friendship recognised throughout the world. Co-authored by Horace Edward "Chip" Mann, the book is highly visual, and includes photographs of the Queen with twelve US Presidents.
Published in 2016, Churchill's Legacy, Two Speeches to Save the World is a non-fiction book published in September 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc to mark the 70th anniversary of Churchill's speeches in 1946, first in March in Fulton, Missouri, often known as the Iron Curtain speech, and then in September in Zurich, Switzerland, often known as the United States of Europe speech.
Below is a list of Lord Watson's most notable awards. For educational honours, please see the above section, Positions at Educational Institutions.Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 1985
Federal Cross of Merit (Germany), 1995 (for his "significant and enduring contribution" to understanding between Germany and Britain)
Grand Cross of Merit (Germany), 2001
Commander's Grand Cross of the Romanian Order of Merit, 2004
Churchill Medal, 2005
The Loyola Schools Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion of English by Manila University, 2005
Knights Grand Cross of the German Order of Merit, 2007