The son of Douglas L. Walters and Clara Walters (née Pomello), Walters was of English and Italian descent; he was brought up as a Roman Catholic. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was in Italy and was interned, but after the Armistice of 1943 he was released and served for eleven months with the Italian Resistance. He then returned to England and was educated at Downside School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he read Modern Languages as an Exhibitioner and completed an MA.
At the 1959 general election, Walters contested Blyth for the Conservatives, fighting the seat again the next year at a by-election after Alf Robens was appointed to the House of Lords. In October 1962, he was selected as his party's candidate for the Conservative-held safe seat of Westbury, which he represented as Member of Parliament (MP) for 28 years from 1964 onwards. During his early years in the Commons, he worked closely with Shadow Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home, of whom he later wrote "I could not imagine a more considerate, fair, or civilised person to serve."
Following the Six-Day War of 1967, Walters visited Palestine with his parliamentary colleague Ian Gilmour, and in a joint statement they said "The Israeli attitude to the refugees becomes clearer when their return rather than their expulsion is considered. Most people in Britain probably believe that Israel has agreed to their return and that repatriation is now satisfactorily proceeding. Nothing could be further from the truth." This was an early signal of the willingness of Walters and Gilmour to work closely together to explain the Arab point of view to the Western world, and they became close allies.
Outside parliament, Walters served as Chairman of Middle East International, founded in 1971 with "a mission to provide authoritative and independent news and analysis on the Middle East." A sympathiser with Arab interests, from 1970 to 1982 he was Chairman of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding and from 1978 to 1981 joint Chairman of the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Association. He was also a company director with interests in investment, advertising, public relations and travel.
When the Conservatives returned to government in 1979, Walters's well-known pro-Arabism cost him the chance of advancement as a Foreign Office minister, the area in which his hopes lay, as in the shape of Gilmour, Margaret Thatcher was willing to appoint one pro-Arab colleague, but not two.
In 1960, Walters was appointed MBE for political services. He was knighted in 1988, made a Commander of the National Order of the Cedar of Lebanon in 1969, and a Grande Ufficiale of the Ordine al Merito Repubblica (Italy) in 2012.
Walters was married three times: firstly in 1955 to Vanora McIndoe, a daughter of the surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe (divorced 1969); secondly to Celia Sandys, daughter of the politician Duncan Sandys (divorced 1979); and thirdly, in 1981, to Bridgett Shearer, daughter of the late J. Francis Shearer (divorced 2004). By his first wife, he had a son and daughter; by his second wife, a son, and by his third wife, a daughter and son. He lived in Chelsea.
He was a member of the Boodle's, Hurlingham and Queen's clubs. Walters' memoirs, Not Always with the Pack, were published in 1989, and translated into a revised Italian edition, which was issued in 1991.
Walters died on 1 October 2021, at the age of 92.
- "Living former Members of the House of Commons" (PDF). researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
- "Walters, Sir Dennis, (born 28 Nov. 1928)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u38783. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
- Dennis Walters, Not Always With the Pack (London: Constable, 1989), p. 26 et seq.
- Charles Roger Dod, Robert Phipps Dod, Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1991, p. 595
- Walters, op. cit., p. 86.
- Walters, op. cit., pp. 106–108
- Walters, op. cit., p. 108
- Walters, op. cit., p. 145
- Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest: a modern history of Palestine (1991), p. 147
- Alan Watkins, Brief lives: with some memoirs (1982), p. 51
- Walters, op. cit., p. 192
- Walters, Nicholas (4 October 2021). "Walters". The Telegraph Announcements. The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Dennis Walters