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Paul Madden

British Ambassador to Japan

Part of UK in Australia

30th July 2012

London: the centre of the world

Waiting to do a radio interview, I heard an ABC reporter in the slot before me say, “When you’re here in London with all the history and all the international connections, it really feels like it’s the centre of the world.” And, at least for the next few weeks, so it is.

HE Paul Madden raises the Olympic flag on the roof of the British High Commission Canberra, with the Australian Parliament in the background.

July 27 began for me on the roof of the High Commission in Canberra, raising the Olympic flag. After a three hour drive to Sydney, there was more climbing when we mounted the 170 spiral steps of the bell tower at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The friendly bell-ringers were delighted to be joining with others all around the world for the “All the bells” celebration to mark the Olympics.  St Mary’s bells were cast in the Whitechapel foundry in East London, just like the Olympic bell. Elsewhere in Australia, they were ringing bells at the National Carillon in Canberra, and the Swan Bell Tower in Perth, whose historic bells – a gift to the people of Australia for the bicentennial – originally graced St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square.

By the time we came to watch the opening ceremony, along with a couple of hundred members of the Australia Britain Chamber of Commerce, it was 6.00am Saturday morning. They were a discerning audience, many recalling the spectacular opening ceremony for Sydney 2000. But all were wowed by the fantastic spectacle in London. As the Sydney Morning Herald described it, “Ironic, wry, nostalgic: it could only be Britain.”

It was definitely a moment to feel very proud to be British. The portrayal of the Industrial Revolution and the UK’s contribution to so many aspects of popular culture, struck a chord with many in the room. It was a history they could share. The genuine commitment to the values of sport and inclusion also shone through. But for me, the defining British moments were the humorous ones, particularly the suggestion of the Queen leaping out of the helicopter with James Bond, which reduced everyone around me to helpless laughter.

So the Games have begun. Millions of Australians will be staying up late to watch over the next 17 days.

About Paul Madden

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017. He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia…

Paul Madden has been the British Ambassador to Japan from January 2017.

He was Additional Director for Asia Pacific at the FCO in 2015.He was British High Commissioner to Australia until February 2015. Prior to this he was British High Commissioner in Singapore from 2007-2011.

A career diplomat, he was previously Managing Director at UK Trade and Investment (2004-2006), responsible for co-ordinating and
implementing international trade development strategies to support
companies across a wide range of business sectors.

As Assistant Director of Information at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office (2003-2004) he was responsible for public diplomacy policy,
including managing the FCO funding of the BBC World Service, the British
Council and the Chevening Scholarships programme. He led the team
responsible for the award-winning UK pavilion at the Aichi Expo in Japan

He was Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore from 2000-2003 and has
also served in Washington (1996-2000) and Tokyo (1988-92). Between
1992-96 he worked on EU enlargement and Environmental issues at the FCO
in London.

Before joining FCO he worked at the Department of Trade and Industry
(1980-87) on a range of industrial sectors and trade policy, including
two years as a minister’s Private Secretary.

He has an MA in Economic Geography from Cambridge University, an MBA
from Durham University, studied Japanese at London University’s School
of Oriental and African Studies, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Geographical Society. His first book, Raffles: Lessons in Business
Leadership, was published in 2003.

Married to Sarah, with three children, he was born in 1959, in Devon.