Tributes to 'fearless' Iraq hostage negotiator Thomas Kingston pour in

Lady Gabriella Kingston, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, describes her husband as 'exceptional'

Thomas Kingston once served as a hostage negotiator in Iraq. PA
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From hostage negotiating in Iraq to joining the royal family, Thomas Kingston led an eventful life.

The 45-year-old went from surviving repeated attacks in Baghdad during his time serving with the Foreign Office, to years later entering the royal family through his marriage to Lady Gabriella Windsor, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Mr Kingston was found dead by his father last weekend and a gun was found near his body, an inquest heard on Friday. Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court was told Mr Kingston was at his parents’ home in the west of England on February 25.

His wife paid tribute to an “exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him”, describing his death as a “great shock”.

The son of devout Christians, Mr Kingston, whose nickname at Bristol University was “Christian Tom”, joined the Foreign Office and was posted to Baghdad between 2003 and 2006 as the project manager for the International Centre for Reconciliation, based at Coventry Cathedral.

He was given the challenging role of mediating between political and tribal leaders as well as negotiating the release of hostages.

Working as an aide to Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad because he ran St George’s Church, the only Anglican church in Iraq, he was entrusted with carrying out parish work in often dangerous situations.

In one instance he narrowly escaped a bombing that claimed 22 lives.

Paying tribute to Mr Kingston, Dr White, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special Middle East envoy, described him as a fearless friend who always had a smile on his face.

“The thing about Tom was he was never scared. Whatever I asked him to do he would do it with a big smile on his face in the middle of a war zone,” he told The Telegraph.

“We survived several suicide bomb attacks.

“We were regularly caught up in IED [improvised explosive device] attacks. Cars would blow up in front of us and we would just move on. We were always together and had 35 armed guards at all times.

“It is terrible [news] about my Tom, I loved him so much.”

Mr Kingston had helped him to build up his ministry to 6,500 worshippers.

Dr White originally trained at St Thomas' Hospital in London and at one point worked alongside former eye surgeon and current Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. In a previous interview with the Mail, he described Mr Kingston as “an exceptional young man” who “makes things happen”, whose great strength was to “see beyond the impossible”.

After his time in Iraq, Mr Kingston returned to the UK and began a career in finance.

He was a director of Devonport Capital, which specialises in providing finance for companies in “frontier economies”.

He met Lady Gabriella through his royal connections, and in 2019, the couple married at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, with Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, among the guests.

Lady Gabriella, 42, who is 56th in line to the throne, is King Charles III’s second cousin. They are both great-grandchildren of King George V.

Buckingham Palace broke the news of Mr Kingston's death and led tributes to him.

“The king and the queen have been informed of Thomas’s death and join Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew him in grieving a much-loved member of the family,” a representative for the palace said.

“In particular, their majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and to all the Kingston family.”

A statement released on behalf of Lady Gabriella Kingston his parents, sisters Joanna Connolly and Emma Murray, said: “It is with the deepest sorrow that we announce the death of Thomas Kingston, our beloved husband, son and brother.

“Tom was an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him. His death has come as a great shock to the whole family and we ask you to respect our privacy as we mourn his passing.”

One friend described him as “a true gentleman”.

“We are so upset about the news, everybody loved him. He was kind, charming and thoroughly decent and one of the last true English gentlemen,” she told The Telegraph.

Another person who knew him said: “It is beyond tragic and so hard to get one’s head around.”

“Tom’s great achievement is that none of his old girlfriends have anything but nice things to say about him,” another friend told The Mail.

“Even when it’s all over, they still like him. In old-fashioned terms, he is a gentleman, just the kind of guy you want to introduce to your mother.”

“They are a lovely, gentle family who do a lot for the village and the church. They are a big part of the local community,” the family’s local postmaster told The Telegraph.

“Thomas popped into the shop a lot, he would come by every so often. I last saw him a few months ago. He was a very gentle soul, just like his father. Everyone is in shock, it’s really sad and very fresh.”

Although Lady Gabriella is not a working member of the royal family, she and Mr Kingston’s family are being supported by the royal household.

Updated: March 01, 2024, 6:11 PM