After studying History at Cambridge University, Peter Williams spent over 30 years in the Coldstream Guards and enjoyed an unusually varied career.
As an Infantryman he carried out ceremonial duties in London, spent two years with Baluchi soldiers in the mountains of Oman, served twice in Northern Ireland and commanded 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards in Germany. In the early 1990s he wrote speeches for the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, an American general.
During the Cold War he specialised in intelligence, serving first in Berlin from 1973 to 1975 as a Regimental Intelligence Officer. He then studied Russian and German before spending more than four years in the 1980s in Berlin and East Germany as an officer in the British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (known as BRIXMIS), in effect working as a military spy. In 1983 he was awarded an MBE for his success as an intelligence collector and analyst.
From 1993 to 1994 he commanded his Coldstream Guards armoured infantry battalion group in central Bosnia on UN peacekeeping operations during the civil war there, for which he received an OBE. In the late 1990s he then went on to do two more 6-month tours in the former Yugoslavia, first as the Deputy Chief UN Military Observer and then in Sarajevo as a senior NATO officer liaising with the Bosnian Serb and Federation general staffs and with the national Mine Action Centre.
After serving first on the Western European Union's and then on the European Union's Military Committee as UK Deputy Military Representative, his final posting was from 2002 to 2005 in Moscow, where he started up and led NATO's Military Liaison Mission to the Russian Federation, working on military cooperation projects, including defence reform and peacekeeping issues, with the Russian armed forces. On leaving Moscow he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. He retired from the Army in December 2005.
He now enjoys giving talks on cruise ships, to military academies, schools and summer schools and to charity audiences about the Cold War and other current and historical issues; these include talks under the Government-sponsored pro bono 'Speakers for Schools' scheme. He also helps to train British military diplomats.
He is the Chairman of the BRIXMIS Association, a member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides, the Patron of the British Ex-Services Association of Western Australia and a Governor of Rendcomb College near Cirencester. From 2008 until 2013 he was the editor of The Guards Magazine, the in-house journal of the British Army's Household Division (Household Cavalry and Foot Guards).
He is married to Anne, a language teacher and jewellery designer. They live in Wiltshire and have three grown-up children and two grandsons.