Rory Stewart is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Penrith and The Border, a constituency in Northern Cumbria. He was briefly in the army, before serving in the diplomatic service, running a charity in Afghanistan, and teaching at Harvard University. He is the author of three books and walked 6000 miles across Asia between 2000 and 2002.
He was educated at Eton, and Balliol College, Oxford, (where he studied history and philosophy). After serving briefly as an infantry officer in the Black Watch, he joined the Diplomatic Service, serving in the British Embassy in Indonesia, and as British representative to Montenegro. Between 2000 and 2002, the Foreign Office granted him leave of absence, which he used to travel 6000 miles on foot across Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. On his return, and following the coalition intervention in Iraq in 2003, he was appointed as Coalition Deputy Governor, responsible for two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of Southern Iraq.
In 2005, after a year at Harvard University, he moved to Afghanistan where he established and ran a charity, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, and lived for three years in Kabul. There he worked to restore a historic section of the old city of Kabul. The charity has brought water supply, rebuilt 90 buildings, established a clinic, a primary school, the Institute for Traditional Afghan Arts and Architecture, and continues to support Afghan crafts worldwide. He returned to Harvard at the end of 2008, when he was appointed director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy, and the Ryan Professor of Human Rights, at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Rory was selected in an open primary to be the Conservative candidate for the Penrith and The Border constituency, and was elected in May 2010. He has been a member of the UK parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary group on Local Democracy, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mountain Rescue, and Treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Upland Farming. In May 2014, he was elected Chair of the Defence Select Committee by his parliamentary colleagues. He tours his Northern Lakeland constituency on foot whenever possible, and has focused on broadband and mobile technology; on defence and military intervention internationally; on rural and upland farming policy; and on devolving power to local communities across Britain.
He has written three books, ‘The Places in Between’ (a New York Times bestseller, which describes his walk across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001-2002), ‘The Prince of the Marshes’ (which describes his time as an administrator in Southern Iraq), and ‘Can Intervention Work?’ (with Gerald Knaus, an essay on military intervention). He has presented three BBC television documentaries (In Search of Lawrence of Arabia, Afghanistan: The Great Game, and Border Country: The Story of Britain’s Lost Middleland). He has written over seventy articles on parliament, and UK politics (accessible on: www.rorystewart.co.uk).
He is married to Shoshana Stewart, and they have recently had their first child, Alexander. They live on the border between the Lake District and the Eden valley of Cumbria.