Antonia Romeo

Antonia Romeo (born 20 October 1974) is a British civil servant.[1] She is currently serving as the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.[2] She was the Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Trade and before that, the British Consul-General in New York for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and concurrently Director-General for Economic and Commercial Affairs in the USA.

Antonia Romeo
Clerk of the Crown in Chancery
Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice
Assumed office
18 January 2021
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
MinisterRobert Buckland
Preceded bySir Richard Heaton
Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade
In office
March 2017  18 February 2021
Prime MinisterTheresa May
Boris Johnson
MinisterLiam Fox
Liz Truss
Preceded byMartin Donnelly
Succeeded byJohn Alty (acting)
Director-General, Economic and Domestic Secretariat, Cabinet Office
In office
February 2015  October 2015
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
AmbassadorSir Kim Darroch
Preceded byMelanie Dawes
Succeeded byJonathan Slater
Her Majesty's Consul-General in New York
In office
July 2016  2017
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded byDanny Lopez
Succeeded byAntony Phillipson
Personal details
Antonia Rice-Evans

(1974-10-20)20 October 1974
EducationBrasenose College, Oxford (MA)
Columbia University (MPA)

Early life

Romeo was educated at North London Collegiate School and then Westminster School.[3][4] Her mother worked full-time as a Professor of biochemistry and Romeo would do her homework in her mother's lab.[5] Romeo's undergraduate education at Brasenose College, Oxford, culminated in her earning an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[6]


In 1996 Romeo joined the strategic consultancy firm Oliver Wyman where she worked for three years.[7] In 1999 Romeo left the firm and earned an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Joining the Civil Service

In 2000, Romeo applied for a one-year temporary contract as a professional economist in the Lord Chancellor's Department, a job she had seen advertised in the Economist newspaper. [5] In a 2016 interview with Management Today Romeo stated that at the time she "barely knew what the civil service did."[5]

In 2004, returning to work after the birth of her first child, Romeo became the head of the Information Rights Division within the new Department for Constitutional Affairs, in charge of freedom of information and related government policies.[1]

In 2006, Romeo became Principal Private Secretary to the Lord Chancellor — initially The Lord Falconer, then from 2007 Jack Straw.

In 2008, Romeo transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as the Director of Whitehall Liaison Department, responsible for the FCO's relations with intelligence agencies and other government departments.[1][7] She left the role in 2010.

Cabinet Office

Following the 2010 United Kingdom general election and the subsequent formation of the Cameron–Clegg coalition, Romeo transferred to the Cabinet Office as the Executive Director in the new Efficiency and Reform Group under Francis Maude. The group was responsible for reforming the Government's governance and Board model, as well as working with businesses. [8]

Ministry of Justice

In 2011, after 18 months at the Cabinet Office, Romeo moved back to the Ministry of Justice, taking on the role of Director-General, Transformation. Romeo was made responsible for reform and savings programmes, strategy, Digital Services, communications, Group HR and Group Estates.[8] Two years later, Romeo was promoted to Director General, Criminal Justice, taking over from Helen Edwards.[9] Romeo was responsible for all criminal justice policy and major programmes, Romeo also delivered a 2+12-year, £1bn programme to reduce reoffending among ex-offenders.[10] Romeo left the role in February 2015 and was succeeded by Indra Morris.[11]

Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat

During the 2015 election Romeo took on the role of Director General at the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat and was responsible for delivering the Prime Minister's top policy priorities. Her work involved coordinating policy advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, oversight of the Implementation Unit, and the operation of the Implementation Task Forces. [10] Romeo later described this as her "dream job." After nine months she left the job for personal reasons, moving her family to New York. Romeo later said that the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood had asked her to stay in the civil service, and encouraged her to take on a role in New York as the Government's envoy to the tech sector.[12] Before undertaking the role Romeo attended Columbia University in New York where she completed the Advanced Management Programme.

Special Envoy to US technology companies

From October 2015 to 2016 Romeo served as the Government's Special Envoy to the U.S. technology companies. The formal title was "Her Majesty's Government's Envoy to the United States' Communications Service Providers".[13] In this role she worked with the US-based technology firms across prosperity, security, and regulatory issues.[8]

Her Majesty's Consul General

In July 2016, Romeo was appointed Her Majesty's Consul General in New York, replacing Danny Lopez. Aged forty-one, Romeo was the first woman to hold the position in its two-hundred-and-thirty-one year history. [14] In addition to her duties as Consul General, Romeo was given the additional role of Director General Economic and Commercial Affairs USA, under the auspices of UK Trade & Investment.[15] As DGECA USA, Romeo's responsibilities included oversight of the North American operations of the foreign commercial arm of the UK Government.[10]

In a talk given to Global Citizen[disambiguation needed] magazine in October 2016, Romeo emphazied that following the Brexit vote, the country was no less committed to its international standing than it was before. "We want to become more globally outward facing," she told the room. "Britain isn’t turning in on itself."[16]

Asked about the xenophobia rhetoric used in the Brexit campaign Romeo replied that the government "thinks xenophobia and hate crime are completely unacceptable." And added: "We want to be engaged and tolerant at home."[16]

Romeo left the role as Director General Economic and Commercial Affairs USA in March 2017, after nine months.

Department for International Trade

In January 2017 Romeo was appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade. Her first day was on 27 March 2017, just two days before Article 50 was triggered, a major step in the UK's exit from the European Union.[13][17] Romeo's team was tasked with ensuring that the UK was prepared to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. During that time, they developed and published a temporary tariff regime, negotiated vital continuity agreements, and secured continued participation in the GPA to ensure UK businesses could continue to bid for public sector contracts globally worth more than £1.3 trillion per year.[12]

At DIT Romeo had responsibility for 4000 staff, based across 108 countries worldwide. She was in charge of trade policy, trade negotiation and market access arrangements with countries outside the EU, global trade promotion and finance, inward and outward business investment, and initiated the GREAT Campaign.[8] Romeo said of the job: "I believe it’s important to work in a job that you really love: if I’m going to leave my kids every day, it has to be for something amazing."[5]

#dataisGREAT campaign

In the course of her duties as Director General Economic and Commercial Affairs, Romeo and her staff had a number of contacts with British tech company Cambridge Analytica. The company were keen to expand in the US following their success on the Trump campaign. Romeo met with executives and as a result of the meeting her subordinates invited the company to take part in a potential spin-off of the "GREAT campaign" titled "#dataisGREAT". The spin-off campaign was never launched. [18]

Trade Agreements consultation

In July 2018, Romeo's team launched four public consultations on future free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, the US as well as potentially seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). They received more than 600,000 responses, making this one of the largest ever public consultations.[12]

Management style

On her role in the DIT, Romeo told Management Today in 2019: "As a leader, you’re always "on". You need to think about the shadow you cast, and even if you're having a bad day you can't show it. When I get in the lift in the DIT building, I try to engage with every person in there and ask them about what they're working on. As a leader, your daily interactions can have a huge impact on someone's day, so they have to be good. Think about the shadow you cast as a boss. Your role is to motivate and lead others, not just worry about your own to-do list."[5]

Legacy at DIT

Following Romeo’s tenure at the DIT, and her prioritisation of diversity and inclusion policies, the DIT rose 340 places to number 30 in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers List. [19]

Return to the Ministry of Justice

In January 2021 Romeo moved back to the Ministry of Justice as Permanent Secretary. [20]As of January 2021 just six UK government departments, out of a total of 21, were run by women.

Antonia Romeo taking oath as Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

Other interests

As the Civil Service’s Gender Champion one of Romeo’s first roles was to set up the Gender Equality Leadership Group, a group of director general level gender champions from all departments, in Romeo’s words, "working to galvanize top level action in departments."[21]

Board memberships

Romeo is President of the Whitehall Choir, one of london's leading amateur choirs.[22] She is also a member of the Civil Service Board, which describes itself as the highest level of governance in the UK's civil service.[23] In addition to this she serves as a Trustee of the John Brown Charitable Trust, which helps people from under-represented backgrounds to excel, and is also a Trustee of the Donmar Warehouse theatre. [24] From 2016 to 2021 Romeo was a Member of the International Advisory Board of British American Businesses (BAB).[citation needed]


  1. "ROMEO, Antonia". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. "Warrants Under the Royal Sign Manual". The London Gazette. HM Government. 22 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021. The Queen has been pleased by Royal Warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual dated 18th January 2021 to appoint Antonia Romeo to the Office of Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.
  3. "Old North Londoners — ONL Profiles: Antonia Romeo". North London Collegiate School. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  4. "Overseas OWW". Westminster School (OWW Online). Archived from the original on 13 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  5. Bassett, Kate (6 August 2019). "Antonia Romeo: "Leaders can't have bad days"". Management Today. Haymarket. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  6. Biography, retrieved 4 January 2021,
  7. "Antonia Romeo named Her Majesty's Consul General in New York". 26 April 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  8. "Antonia Romeo Permanent Secretary at Department for International Trade (DIT)". Centre for Science and Policy. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  9. "Inspirational Woman: Antonia Romeo | Director General Criminal Justice". WeAreTheCity. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  10. "Antonia Romeo, Her Majesty's Consul General". Oliver Wyman. Oliver Wyman. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  11. Ministry of Justice (10 June 2015). "Ministry of Justice Annual Report and Accounts 2014–15" (PDF). Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  12. Romeo, Antonia (3 April 2019). "Two years in the life of a Permanent Secretary". Linked In. Linked In. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  13. Romeo, Antonia. "Linked IN Bio". Linked In. Linked In. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  14. Niarchos, Nicholas (18 July 2016). "Britain's First Female Consul-General in New York". The New Yorker. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  15. "Change of Her Majesty's Consul General in New York". Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  16. MaCarthy, Joe (3 October 2016). "Post-Brexit Britain Wants to Be More Globally Engaged". Global Citizen. Global Citizen. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  17. "New Permanent Secretary for the Department for International Trade" (Press release). GOV.UK. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  18. Spence, Alex (4 June 2018). "Cambridge Analytica Wanted To Crack Trump's Washington. "Our Job Is To Help You," A Top British Official Told Them". Buzzfeed News. Buzzfeed. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  19. "'We celebrate what we've achieved but also commit to going further': How the civil service marked International Women's Day". 25 June 2020.
  20. "Appointment of Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Justice" (Press release). GOV.UK. 4 January 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  21. "'We celebrate what we've achieved but also commit to going further': How the civil service marked International Women's Day". 25 June 2020.
  23. "Labour demands urgent action to close gender gap at top of civil service". 13 January 2017.
  24. "Staff".