By Cary Shuman
Harriet Cross, a career diplomat with extensive experience in international relations, is the new British Consul General of Boston and New England.
Mrs. Cross began her work on Aug. 22 in the esteemed position as the leader and liaison for the 70,000 British nationals living in the region, succeeding former Consul General Susie Kitchens.
Mrs. Cross and her husband, Phil Saltonstall – a relative of former Massachusetts governor and U.S. senator Leverett Saltonstall and a member of the prominent Saltonstall family – are living in Beacon Hill where the official Consul General’s residence is located. Mr. Saltonstall is the owner of a microbrewery in the United Kingdom.
Governor Charlie Baker welcomed the new Consul General to Boston during a reception in his offices at the State House. Though the 41-year-old Consul General stands 5-feet, 10 inches tall, she jested, “I still looked small,” standing next to the 6-foot-6-inch governor of the Commonwealth.
Mrs. Cross has enjoyed meeting some of her new neighbors in Beacon Hill.
“I really appreciated the friendly reception from the residents in Beacon Hill. The people have been welcoming and happy to exchange a few friendly words. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better.”
Prior to coming to Boston, Mrs. Cross served as the United Kingdom’s deputy ambassador to Yemen, an appointment that was cut short due to security reasons. She was relocated to Saudia Arabia.
Mrs. Cross grew up in Yorkshire, the largest county in England with much history.
“I’m a Yorkshire woman,” she said. “People from the Yorkshire are very proud of where they’re from. It’s one of those places that generates a lot of pride. Some of the Olympic gold medalists were from Yorkshire.”
Mrs. Cross received a First Class Honors Degree in Politics and French from the University of Warwick. She entered diplomatic service at the age of 23, serving as Second Secretary to the British Embassy in Morocco for four years.
She returned to the United Kingdom to work as an international policy advisor for the United Kingdom National Crime Squad, working on issues of policing, particularly the international relationships that the British Police had with their counterparts in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Mrs. Cross returned to diplomatic service as the First Secretary to the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York City.
During her work in New York, Mrs. Cross organized Queen Elizabeth II’s official visit to the city in 2010.
“I met the Queen and Prince Philip,” said Mrs. Cross. “She was such a nice person. I can’t emphasize that enough. Sometimes when you get official visitors from the UK, they can be demanding. But with the Queen, she was very friendly and gracious. That was a really important moment for me. It was a real honor to meet the Queen. In some ways, my appreciation of the Royal Family changed after having organized that visit.”
She worked at the University of York for two years before resuming her career in diplomatic service in Yemen.
Mrs. Cross said she is excited about her new role as Consul General.
“We have a very strong diplomatic team in Boston, so I am very fortunate to be leading such a professional, energetic and knowledgeable group of people,” she said. “We have a trade and investment team, which is the biggest unit in the consulate so I see a big part of my work as promoting the UK’s economy and looking at ways where we can find mutual benefit in trade and investments. This relationship has already created one million jobs between the UK and the United States.”
She will focus on innovation in business and building on the UK’s relationships with area universities.
“There is a lot of interesting developments coming out of MIT with the new start-ups. Whether it’s robotics, the future of cities and manufacturing, and the really cutting-edge stuff, I think sometimes the UK doesn’t get enough credit. I’m really happy to promote the UK as a place of history and the colonial relationship but what I really want to get across to the people of Boston and New England is the fact that we have some of best innovation in the world in the UK. There is some fantastic stuff coming out of the UK.”
Mrs. Cross and her husband have toured the city, visiting such landmarks as the Bunker Hill Monument, and Faneuil Hall. She looks forward to attending sporting events at the TD Garden, Fenway Park, and Gillette Stadium.
“I’ve seen baseball in New York, but I’ve never been to a professional basketball, ice hockey or American football game,” she said.
A vegetarian and avid runner, Mrs. Cross has competed in half marathons and may set her sights on competing in the world’s most famous race, the Boston Maraton. “Never say never,” she said.
Upon her appointment as Consul General, Mrs. Cross received a beautiful scroll from Queen Elizabeth II and the Secretary of State and Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson, former mayor of London.
The British American Business Council of New England (BACNE) is hosting a welcome reception for the new Consul General this week at the Old State House. The event is sold out.
Her enthusiasm for her new position is noteworthy. “I think the Consulate staff has seen my enthusiasm and now it’s my job to bring that enthusiasm to the people of Boston and throughout New England, and that’s one thing I’m really excited to do. I can’t think of a place I’d rather be than here in Boston at this particular time.”