Letter: Tartans that defy English fashions

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Sir: While delighted to see the photograph of my great-uncle, Sir Harry Maclean, with your article 'The gay Gordons, Toms, Harrys and Jean-Pauls' about the wearing of the kilt by all and sundry, especially gays, I found it rather incongruous, considering Sir Harry's remarkable life.

Resigning from the British Army's 69th Foot in 1876 at the age of 28 (he could not live on a lieutenant's meagre pay), he accepted the post of instructor in artillery to the army of the Sultan of Morocco, Maulay al-Hassan. His wife, Catherine, and his two daughters accompanied him, as later did his third daughter and his son.

Through his ability in modernising the Moroccan army he won the confidence of the Sultan and was in a few years appointed Army C-in-C with the title of Kaid, equivalent to General. My great-uncle greatly increased British influence in Morocco during the early 20th century rivalry between European powers there, including Germany. When kidnapped by the notorious brigand Raisuli he was ransomed for the then enormous sum of pounds 20,000 and the giving to Raisuli of the status of 'British Protected Person'. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1901 for his services.

Yours faithfully,


Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

8 December

(Photograph omitted)