Obituary: Roland Hunt

ROLAND HUNT was appointed as High Commissioner to Uganda in 1965. There, involuntarily but inevitably, he became involved in the power struggle between the new President, Milton Obote, and the Kabaka of Buganda, "King Freddie", who appealed to him for British help before his deposition and exile in 1966.

The following year, as a result of the deteriorating security situation, Hunt issued public advice to British subjects to avoid certain roads which were subject to roadblocks and attacks by undisciplined units of the Ugandan Army. Obote chose to regard this as interference in Uganda's internal affairs and, to avoid the risk of Hunt's being declared persona non grata, on the advice of the Minister of State, Judith Hart, he was withdrawn from the post.

He was involved in a further newsworthy event the following year when, as Assistant Under-Secretary of State with responsibilities for the Caribbean, he accompanied William Whitlock, a junior FCO Minister, to the island of Anguilla where its leader, Ronald Webster, was trying to establish its independence from the associated state of St Kitts-Nevis. After a fruitless negotiation to restore legality, and in the absence of any British security protection, the British team was forced to withdraw in some disorder. Hunt looked back on the incident with considerable amusement, pointing out that none of his experiences, there or in Uganda, would have surprised the Greeks.

Sadly, however, bad luck continued to dog him when what turned out to be his final diplomatic appointment, in 1970, as High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago was brought to an untimely end by his seriously breaking his leg on the golf course. This involved his being brought home for major surgery and led to his early retirement from the service, though he went on to become British Secretary of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1973 until 1976.

Hunt was born in Highgate, north London, in 1916. He won a Classics scholarship from Rugby and, after coming down from Queen's College, Oxford, took the exams for entry to the Indian Civil Service in 1938. His success in them resulted in a further year at Oxford doing a government-sponsored course on Empire Studies, during which time he married Pauline Garnett.

On the outbreak of war in 1939, Hunt volunteered to join the Army, but was firmly told that his membership of the ICS had priority, and shortly afterwards he was despatched to Madras. As a newly arrived sub-collector in an up-country district he was not expected to be married, but with characteristic initiative Pauline soon managed to join him and their first two sons were born in India.

At Independence in 1947 the Hunts returned to London. In 1948 Roland joined the Commonwealth Relations Office and was immediately returned to the subcontinent as a Third Secretary on the staff of the British High Commissioner in Pakistan. Between 1950 and 1952 he was based in Whitehall, dealing with East African security matters, in the course of which he spent some time in Nairobi as a member of the UK team at the African Defence Facilities Conference. In 1952 he was promoted to be Political Secretary in the High Commission in South Africa, where with his previous defence experience he was appropriately involved in the negotiations for the Simonstown Agreement.

In 1956, on promotion to Counsellor, he was appointed as "John the Baptist" and Deputy High Commissioner designate to prepare the way for the setting up of the new High Commission in Kuala Lumpur prior to Malaya becoming independent in 1957. There he established a close working relationship with the founding Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Hunt's son Julian tells the story that when Benjamin Britten's entry to the international competition for Malaya's national anthem was received, the Tunku zoomed round with outriders to Hunt's home, where he had to be roused from a sickbed. After Hunt had played the proposed anthem on the piano, they both agreed that it would not do. So they tentatively proposed some modifications and returned the entry to Britten, who was, predictably, not amused. Nothing more was heard from him, and in the end a local dance tune, suitably slowed down, was chosen.

With the ending of the emergency in Malaya, Hunt visited South Vietnam to study and advise on the insurgency problem there. He returned to London in 1960 to attend the Imperial Defence College course, and in 1962 was posted back to Pakistan as Deputy High Commissioner, before being appointed High Commissioner in Uganda in 1965.

Roland Hunt's life was enormously enriched by his love of music, and he gave great pleasure to others as well as to himself through his gifted piano-playing. He had a close-knit family in which, until her death from cancer in 1989, he was powerfully supported by Pauline. She was probably more ambitious for him than he was for himself, and made no secret of her disappointment when his premature retirement deprived him of the knighthood he would probably otherwise have been awarded. Roland himself, on the other hand, had a deeply philosophical approach to events and, even after suffering a stroke which seriously impaired his speech and his piano-playing, was prepared to treat life's ups and downs with tolerant amusement.

Roland Charles Colin Hunt, diplomat: born London 19 March 1916; Deputy High Commissioner in the Federation of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur 1957-59; Assistant Secretary, Commonwealth Relations Office 1961; British Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan 1962-65; CMG 1965; British High Commissioner in Uganda 1965-67; Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Commonwealth Office/Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1967-70; High Commissioner, Trinidad and Tobago 1970-73; Director, British National Committee, International Chamber of Commerce 1973-76; married 1939 Pauline Garnett (died 1989; three sons, two daughters); died Reading, Berkshire 24 March 1999.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone