Arthur de la Mare

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Sir Arthur de la Mare KCMG KCVO (15 February 1914 – 15 December 1994) was a British diplomat. He rose to the rank of High Commissioner of Singapore, and was a leading authority on Asian affairs to the British Foreign Office.


Arthur James de la Mare was born into a farming family in Jersey.[1] He grew up speaking the Norman French patois of his native island.[1] He was educated at Victoria College, Jersey, then won a scholarship to Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he gained a double first in modern languages. He joined the Foreign Service in 1936 and served in Tokyo, Seoul, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..

De la Mare was acting consul general to Seoul by 1938 when the consul general fell ill and had to return to Britain.[2] At the time he had nothing more than two years' Japanese language training.[2]

Upon his arrival in Seoul in the late 1930s he was acting consul general, and then the vice consul promptly retired, and De la Mare took on his responsibilities as well.[2] De la Mare had no consular training at this stage.[2]

He was appointed ambassador to Afghanistan 1963–65,[3] High Commissioner in Singapore 1968–70 and ambassador to Thailand 1970–73.[4]

De la Mare oversaw the transition to independence from Britain whilst High Commissioner for Singapore. De la Mare expressed his anger that the British military bases on the island were handed over to the Singapore People's Action Party government.[5]

De la Mare's valedictory dispatches from Thailand and Singapore are included in Matthew Parris's book Parting Shots (Penguin, 2011). In a view that was considered old-fashioned at the time, De la Mare maintained that the British Empire could be a force for good around the world.[6]

De la Mare was appointed CMG in 1957[7]

De la Mare was knighted KCMG in 1968.[8]

After the Queen's visit to Thailand in 1972 she gave him the additional knighthood of KCVO[9] and the King of Thailand made him a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Elephant.

He lived in the 1960s and 1970s in Walton on Thames, Surrey. He had an impish sense of humour. One of his neighbours, Valissa Gordon, saw Sir Arthur, somewhat shabbily dressed, doing the gardening in 1965. Assuming he was a hired hand, Mrs Gordon asked him whether he would be willing to do the gardening at her house. He readily agreed. It took him some weeks to reveal to his neighbour that he was the ex-ambassador to Afghanistan and a Knight of the British Empire.



  1. ^ a b Sir arthur de la mare;obituary. (1995, Jan 05). The Times Retrieved from
  2. ^ a b c d J. E. Hoare (31 October 2013). Embassies in the East: The Story of the British and Their Embassies in China, Japan and Korea from 1859 to the Present. Routledge. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-136-79617-3. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette, 19 July 1963
  4. ^ The London Gazette, 17 November 1970
  5. ^ Derek Thiam Soon Heng; Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied (2011). Singapore in Global History. Amsterdam University Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-90-485-1437-3. 
  6. ^ Matthew Parris; Andrew Bryson (2 June 2011). Parting Shots. Penguin Books, Limited. p. 302. ISBN 978-0-670-91929-1. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette, 1 January 1957
  8. ^ The London Gazette, 5 June 1968
  9. ^ The London Gazette, 9 May 1972

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Michael Gillett
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Kabul
Succeeded by
Sir Gordon Whitteridge
Preceded by
John Vernon Rob
High Commissioner to Singapore
Succeeded by
Sir Sam Falle
Preceded by
Sir Neil Pritchard
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Bangkok
Succeeded by
Sir David Cole