Sir Philip Adams

Philip George Doyne Adams, diplomat: born Wellington, New Zealand 17 December 1915; CMG 1959, KCMG 1969; ambassador to Jordan 1966-70; Assistant Under-Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1970; Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Office 1971-72; ambassador to Egypt 1973-75; Director, Ditchley Foundation 1977-82; married 1954 The Hon Elizabeth Lawrence (two sons, two daughters); died London 14 October 2001.

Philip Adams was a most self- effacing man. It says much for his quality and talent and is perhaps a tribute to the perspicacity of the Diplomatic Service to which he devoted the greater part of his working life that, as ambassador successively to Jordan and Egypt, he came to hold two of the most important posts in that troubled region in which he had specialised.

His father was a doctor, from a long line of doctors, but Philip Adams did not follow family tradition. Instead, after leaving Lancing College, he read PPE at Christ Church, Oxford. After a period of preparation including travels in Germany and France with his father and a time in Heidelberg where he was able to observe the growth of Nazism, he passed into the Levant Consular Service in 1938 and was posted as a probationary Vice-Consul to Beirut, to learn Arabic in the time spared from his official duties.

With the outbreak of the Second World War Adams volunteered for the Army and was duly commissioned and posted as Intelligence Officer to an Australian battalion. In that capacity he took part in the invasion of Lebanon and Syria in 1941 to oust the Vichy French regime, and was present at the battle for the crossing of the Litani River in Southern Lebanon. However he was soon recalled by the Foreign Office, into which the separate consular services were absorbed, and spent the rest of the war working in Cairo.

In 1945 he was posted to Jedda for two years before returning to the Foreign Office in 1947. Postings followed to Vienna in 1951, to Khartoum in 1954, where as Chargé d'Affaires he established the first British Embassy after Sudanese independence, and in 1956 to Beirut, where he held the testing appointment of Regional Information Officer at the time of the Suez débâcle. It was in Vienna that he met Libby Lawrence who was working in the embassy. They married in 1954 and together formed a famously happy and successful partnership for the next 47 years.

After a short spell in London Adams was appointed Consul- General in Chicago, a key post in the advancement of British commercial interests and in explaining British policies to the American public. This was a particularly happy time and the Adamses formed many enduring friendships in the Windy City and the wider area.

Adams's knack of being at the centre of trouble was tested again when he became ambassador to Jordan in 1966. The Six Day War between Israel and the Arab states broke out in June 1967, and the ambassador's residence, on the same hill and some 400 yards from the the King's Palace, came under attack from the air. The Adamses evacuated this exposed position, which in any case had become over the years more and more politically inappropriate, and established themselves in a new house on the other side of Amman which has since remained the ambassador's residence.

In 1970 Adams returned to London, first as an Assistant Under- Secretary in the Foreign Office and later as Deputy Secretary in the Cabinet Office. It was in the latter capacity that he accompanied Lord Goodman on two visits to Rhodesia as pathfinders for Sir Alec Douglas-Home's drive to reach agreement to end Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of independence. The effort eventually failed the test of African opinion, but not the least of the achievements of the Goodman/ Adams missions was their success in carrying them out incognito and undetected, despite the unmistakable figure of Lord Goodman.

Appointed ambassador to Egypt in 1973, Adams was in time for the Yom Kippur war. There he was called upon to act as a channel of communication between the United States Administration and President Anwar Sadat, the US having no embassy at that time in Cairo. These exchanges paved the way for Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy and eventually to the settlement between Egypt and Israel at Camp David. Adams also played a major part during his time in Cairo in the arrangements for the participation of the Royal Navy in the clearance of the Suez Canal. From a passing resemblance to the images of the Egyptian god, Adams was reputedly known affectionately to his staff as "Horus".

He retired from the Diplomatic Service in 1975 and after a short interregnum took over as Director of the Ditchley Foundation, the privately funded conference centre in Oxfordshire devoted to the furtherance of transatlantic understanding. Here Adams's American contacts, as well as his knowledge of the British political scene, came into play and formed the basis for a successful and happy five years. At the same time he served on the board of the British Council, whose work overseas he had always admired and supported, on the board of the Marshall Memorial Commission and on the Council of the David Davies Institute.

During what with some licence may be called their retirement Philip and Libby Adams indulged their love of travel by intrepid caravanning, particularly to Eastern Europe, which during the Cold War had been closed to them. To the astonishment of their friends, on various different holidays they towed their caravan, with Philip always at the wheel, through Ceausescu's Romania, to Leningrad as it then was, and to Prague. They visited South Africa a number of times, a country with which Philip felt an affinity, his mother having been born there, and in whose development he took a particular interest.

I have described Philip Adams as self-effacing. He was the most delightful companion, with a characteristic quiet chuckle and, with Libby, a genial and generous host. By his own admission he was not an intellectual: he was however interested in and responded to people, who responded to him in return. I doubt if he had an enemy.

He is survived by his wife and their four children, of whom one son has followed him in the Diplomatic Service and in the Middle East.

John Graham

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Early Years Teacher - Jan 2015 - China

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes