Harold Smedley was born 19 June 1920, the son of the late Dr R. D. Smedley, MA, MD, DPH, Worthing; he was educated at Aldenham School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1950 he married Beryl Mary Harley Brown, of Wellington, New Zealand.
After serving the war of 1939-45 in the Royal Marines, Smedley entered the Dominions Office (later the Commonwealth Relations Office) in 1946. His career included: Private Secretary to Permanent Under-Secretary of State, 1947-48; British High Commissioner's Office at Wellington, New Zealand, 1948-50 and Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia [later Zimbabwe], 1951-53; Principal Private Secretary to Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, 1954-57; Counsellor, British High Commissioner's Office at Calcutta, 1957, and New Delhi [India], 1958-60; British High Commissioner in Ghana, 1964-67; Ambassador to Laos, 1967-70; Assistant Under-Secretary of State, FCO, 1970-72; Secretary General, Commission on Rhodesian opinion, 1971-72; High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, and Ambassador to Republic of Maldives, 1972-75; High Commissioner in New Zealand and concurrently Governor of Pitcairn Island, 1976-80; High Commissioner in Western Samoa (non-resident), 1977-80.
He was awarded the KCMG in 1978 (CMG 1965); MBE 1946. He died in February 2004.