OBITUARY:Sir Archibald Ross

Archibald Ross ended a distinguished diplomatic career as ambassador first to Portugal, from 1961 to 1966, and then to Sweden, from 1966 to 1971. He was in many ways typical of the old style of diplomat but none the less effective for it.

His father had been in the Indian Civil Service and there was a strong family tradition of government service. Archie was a scholar of Winchester and of New College, Oxford, where he took Firsts in Mods and Greats and won the Gaisford Prize for Greek Verse; he also won the Laming Travelling Fellowship at Queen's. When he took the pre-war Foreign Office examination in 1936, he passed in top.

His diplomatic career was somewhat narrow in the sense that he served always in the Foreign Office or in regular embassies abroad in Europe or the Middle East. He never served in a post involving multilateral diplomacy or in Washington or Paris, nor did he ever go further east than Iran. So he served successively at Stockholm, Tehran and Rome, with intervening periods in London in increasingly senior capacities until his appointment as ambassador to Lisbon at the age of 50. After five years there he was happy to spend his final five years as ambassador at Stockholm.

I served with and under Archie Ross in Rome 40 years ago. I could not have had a more agreeable and helpful colleague, generous in his support and available to give advice from his much greater experience. He could be counted on to carry out his instructions with care and accuracy and to promote British policies persuasively. Before coming to Rome as Minister (no 2) he had been head of the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office, a very demanding job at the time of our then difficulties with Iran. Rome was no doubt a reward for his success in that department and he and his wife, Mary, herself something of a paragon as ambassadress who preserved her good looks to an advanced age, enjoyed their time there, entertaining in an elegant little house overlooking the baths of Caracalla. Archie played a useful role over Trieste in the inter-regnum between Victor Mallet and Ashley Clarke. Later when he was an under-secretary at the Foreign Office he could chalk up a success over Cyprus in 1959.

Ross was regarded by some as ultra-conventional. He was indeed extremely correct in his demeanour and appearance on all official occasions. Nor did he fail to show all the minor old-fashioned courtesies which form part of diplomatic intercourse. But he was not without humour - sometimes concealed well beneath the surface - and he responded to teasing about his addiction to protocol.

I used to see Archie Ross at least once a year at the annual service of the Order of St Michael and St George in St Paul's Cathedral. His loud "Amen" after the prayer for members of the order reflected his own beliefs. I cannot imagine him enjoying any career other than service to the Crown. His sense of duty was immensely strong.

Alan Campbell

Archibald David Manisty Ross, diplomat: born 12 October 1911; HM Minister, Rome 1953-56; CMG 1953, KCMG 1961; Assistant Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1956-60; Ambassador to Portugal 1961-66; Ambassador to Sweden 1966-71; married 1939 Mary Macfadyen (one son, one daughter, and one son deceased); died 25 January 1996.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

SharePoint Administrator/Developer (C#, VB.NET, VISUAL STUDIO 2

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SharePoi...

European HR Director, London

£80000 - £95000 per annum: Charter Selection: A leading Global organisation Ja...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers