Peter Duffell was educated at Dulwich College and after a period in journalism was commissioned into the 2nd Gurkha Rifles. He campaigned with his Regiment in Malaya, Brunei and Borneo and served in a succession of command and staff appointments in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Germany, Belize and in Whitehall at both the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office before retiring form the British Army in the rank of Lieutenant General. He is a graduate of the Army Staff College and the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Following military retirement Peter Duffell worked for ten years as Chief Executive of a major international law firm followed by a consultancy for his firm working primarily on projects in China, Hong Kong and Russia. He has held a number of extra-curricular appointments including Governor of Sandroyd School, Trustee of the Gurkha Welfare Trust and membership of the Advisory Board of the School of Oriental and African studies. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. He became a Trustee of the Foyle Foundation in 2006.