Antony Acland

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For the Jesuit, see Anthony Acland (Jesuit). For the British Army officer, see Sir Antony Guy Acland, 5th Baronet.
Sir Antony Acland
Sir Antony Acland.jpg
Sir Antony Acland in the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter
Born (1930-03-12)12 March 1930
Education Eton College
Christ Church, Oxford
Occupation Diplomat

Sir Antony Arthur Acland KG GCMG GCVO (born 12 March 1930) is a British former diplomat and Provost of Eton College.

Early life[edit]

Antony Acland is the second son of Brigadier Peter Acland. He was educated at Eton College, then in 1948 joined the Royal Artillery with a post-war "emergency commission".[1] After short army service he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, gaining a BA degree in PPE in 1953 (later upgraded to MA). After leaving Oxford in 1953 he went straight into the Foreign Office (FO).[2]


After studying at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, Acland was posted to Dubai and then Kuwait, then back to the FO as Assistant Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary (Selwyn Lloyd, then Lord Home) 1959–62. He then served at the UK Mission to the UN, first in New York 1962–66, then at Geneva 1966–68. Back at the FCO he was head of the Arabian department 1970–72.

Acland was Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary (Sir Alec Douglas-Home, then James Callaghan) 1972–75. He was Ambassador to Luxembourg 1975–77[3] and to Spain 1977–79. He was Deputy Under-Secretary at the FCO 1979–82, a post which then entailed chairing the Joint Intelligence Committee. In 1982 he was promoted to Permanent Under-Secretary and head of the Diplomatic Service. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982 and Acland came into collision with the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, over the diplomatic response. At one point during a heated discusion he threatened to resign, whereupon Thatcher backed down and said 'All right, no more Foreign Office bashing.'[4]

Acland was Ambassador to the United States at Washington, D.C., 1986–91, then retired from the Diplomatic Service and was Provost of Eton College 1991–2000.[5]

Acland was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford, helping to raise funds for the Institute's building and library.[6]


Acland was appointed CMG in the 1976 New Year Honours[7] and knighted KCVO in November of that year after Queen Elizabeth's state visit to Luxembourg.[8] He was given the additional knighthood of KCMG in 1982 and promoted to GCMG in 1986 and GCVO in 1991.[9] He was Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George 1994–2005.[10] In 2001 he was given the rare honour of appointment to the Order of the Garter.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956 Acland married Clare Anne Verdon; they had two sons and a daughter. She died in 1984 and in 1987 he married Jennifer McGougan.

Arms of Antony Acland
Coat of Arms of Antony Arthur Acland.svg
Knight since 1986
Upon a hand Argent and Sable, a falcon Argent.
Mantling Argent and Sable.
Chequy Argent and sable a fess Gules in chief a five rays star Argent.
The Order of the Garter circlet.[12][13][14]



  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38520. p. 442. 25 January 1949.
  2. ^ BDOHP interview, p.2
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46681. p. 11464. 11 September 1975.
  4. ^ BDOHP interview, p.33
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 52592. p. 10098. 2 July 1991.
  6. ^ Founding Council, Rothermere American Institute
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46777. p. 4. 30 December 1975.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 47074. p. 15755. 23 November 1976.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 52557. p. 8957. 11 June 1991.
  10. ^ "Court Circular". Independent. 10 June 1994. 
  11. ^ Honours and Awards, The Gazette, 23 April 2001
  12. ^ Anthony Acland's banner of arms image, Heraldic Sculptor. Retrieved 20 December 2013
  13. ^ Banner image. St George-Windsor. Retrieved 20 December 2013
  14. ^ Anthony Acland's crest image. Retrieved 20 December 2013

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John Graham
Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Stephen Barrett
Preceded by
John Roper
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Succeeded by
Patrick Wright
Preceded by
Sir Charles Wiggin
Ambassador to Spain
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Parsons
Preceded by
Sir Michael Palliser
Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Wright
Preceded by
Sir Oliver Wright
Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Sir Robin Renwick
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lord Charteris of Amisfield
Provost of Eton
Succeeded by
Sir Eric Anderson
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Gladstone, Bt
as a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter
as a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter
Succeeded by
Sir John Major
as a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter