100 Heroes: Ronnie Tree

The gay man who became an influential British politician during WWII.

100 Heroes: Ronnie Tree

Ronnie Tree was a British Conservative Party politician, journalist and investor who served as the Member of Parliament for the Harborough constituency in Leicestershire from 1933 to 1945.

His knowledge of Berlin helped shaped his understanding of the rise of Nazism. He was one of the early voices calling for Britain to oppose German expansionism.

He later established the Sandy Lane resort in Barbados.

Early Life

Arthur Ronald Lambert Field Tree – known as Ronnie – was born in Eastbourne in 1897.

He came from a wealthy family.

Tree was educated at Winchester College in England.

Tree edited Forum Magazine in New York from 1922, and from 1926 was working in investment on the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1927, Tree returned to England with his wife, Nancy. They subsequently had three children.


In 1933, Tree was elected Member of Parliament for Harborough in Leicestershire.

Tree was among a small group who saw the rising Nazi party in Germany as a threat to Britain, and using his home as its base he became friends with the group’s leader, Winston Churchill.

In February 1938, after Anthony Eden resigned as foreign secretary from Neville Chamberlain over the conduct of foreign policy, Tree himself became a follower of Eden, known then as the “Glamour boys” – primarily because they were a group of gay politicians. It was widely known that Tree was bisexual.

During World War II, Churchill gave Tree a job in the Ministry of Information. It was during this period that Tree met Marietta Peabody FitzGerald.

After Politics

Tree left Parliament when, in the election in 1945 at the end of the war, he was defeated by the Labour candidate for Harborough.

In 1947, Tree married Marietta. They had one child.

The family moved to New York City.

Marietta became heavily involved in politics and the couple effectively separated and Tree spent most of his time at his residence in Barbados.

Tree died in 1976.

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