Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is based in the heart of London. As a measure of its importance in the world of international relations, the name 'Chatham House' - the building - is now commonly used to refer to the organization.
The House has given its name to the famous Chatham House Rule, first established here in 1927 and revised twice since. The Rule is used around the world to ensure free and open debate.
In 1919 British and American delegates to the Paris Peace Conference, under the leadership of Lionel Curtis, conceived the idea of an Anglo-American Institute of foreign affairs to study international problems with a view to preventing future wars. In the event, the British Institute of International Affairs was founded separately in London in July 1920 and received its Royal Charter in 1926 to become The Royal Institute of International Affairs. The American delegates developed the Council on Foreign Relations in New York as a sister institute. Both are now among the world's leading international affairs think-tanks.
The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) is an independent international affairs think-tank and membership organization. It is precluded by its Charter from expressing any institutional view or policy on any aspect of international affairs. It does not receive any statutory government funding and is not a government organization, although some government departments are corporate members of Chatham House and may fund specific projects.
Based in St James's Square in London, the listed building was home to three Prime Ministers (William Pitt the Elder, Edward Stanley and William Gladstone) before being gifted to what was then the British Institute of International Affairs in 1923. The book, Chatham House: Its History and Inhabitants, is available to order.
Read more about the background of Chatham House.