Nicholas Houghton

General Sir Nick Houghton

Former Chief of the Defence Staff

In-service BA Modern History (1977)

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Baron Houghton of Richmond, was the highest-ranking military officer in the UK between 2013 and 2016. He was the professional head of the Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence to whom, along with the Prime Minister, he reported directly. In October 2016, he was installed as the Constable of the Tower of London.

Born in 1954 in West Yorkshire, he was educated at Woodhouse Grove School in Bradford and at RMA Sandhurst. In 1977, he came up to St Peter’s where he read for an in-service BA in Modern History. Commissioned into the Green Howards in 1974, General Houghton was both a Company Commander in and Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion in the Mechanised and Air Mobile Roles and in Northern Ireland. 

After Regimental duty, General Houghton commanded 39 Infantry Brigade in Belfast during the period which led to the Good Friday Agreement. He was the Director of Military Operations in the Ministry of Defence at the time of 9/11, and was subsequently Chief of Staff of the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps from July 2002 to April 2004 and Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations) from May 2004 to October 2005.

More recently, General Houghton served as the Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Force-Iraq from October 2005 until March 2006. He became Chief of Joint Operations (CJO) in April 2006 and was appointed Chieft of the Defence Staff in 2013. He was appointed both OBE and CBE for his time in command in Northern Ireland and awarded the US Legion of Merit for his service in Iraq. He was appointed KCB for his time as CJO. He retired as Chieft of the Defence Staff in July 2016 and is currently Constable of the Tower of London.

Sir Nicholas is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s.