Obituary: Sir Ashley Clarke

Henry Ashley Clarke, diplomat: born 26 June 1903; Third Secretary, Budapest 1925-27; Third Secretary, Warsaw 1927-28; Second Secretary, Constantinople 1928-31; Second Secretary, Tokyo 1934-36, First Secretary 1936-38; Foreign Office, London 1938-44; CMG 1946, KCMG 1952, GCMG 1962; Foreign Office 1949-53; Ambassador to Italy 1953-62; GCVO 1961; Governor, BBC 1962-67; Chairman, British-Italian Society 1962-67; Vice- Chairman, Venice in Peril Fund 1970- 83, President 1983-94; Knight of St Mark 1979; FSA 1985; married 1937 Virginia Bell (marriage dissolved 1960), 1962 Frances Molyneux; died 20 January 1994.

IN the two years 1953-55 I saw Ashley Clarke almost every day, sometimes more than once, writes Sir Alan Campbell. He had arrived in Rome in the autumn of 1953 as newly appointed ambassador and inherited me as his head of chancery. He proved to be a splendid boss and became a close friend.

Ashley had taken great trouble over the plans for his arrival. He was right to do so since in 1953 the British had recently been unpopular owing to the Trieste dispute in which the Italians believed us to have been unsympathetic to their interests. On arrival at Ciampino airport the new ambassador, good- looking and with a friendly air, accompanied by his attractive first wife, Virginia, made an excellent impression, especially when in making a short statement to the press (in already quite good Italian) he referred to Italy as being 'the heart of Europe'. From then on he never looked back and became more and more admired as he settled down to know and understand Italy in a way that no other British ambassador since the war has succeeded in doing. He was as mad on music as his wife was on bulldogs - interests regarded by the Italians as amiable eccentricities in a British ambassador's household.

Ashley Clarke was a first-class professional diplomat of the traditional kind who worked hard at getting to know and influence key people in every field. By the end of his nine-year embassy he was known and respected by everybody in Italy who mattered.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent