Muirhead was educated at Cranbrook School, Kent where he was a Cadet Serjeant in the Officers' Training Corps. He was commissioned in the Artists Rifles in 1937 with the rank of second lieutenant. In 1939, having passed the Officers Examination at RMC Sandhurst, he was appointed to the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and served during the Second World War in France, Belgium and South-East Asia. In 1946 he passed the Foreign Service Examination and was appointed to the Foreign Office. He was appointed consul at La Paz in 1948, and posted to Buenos Aires in 1949, Brussels in 1950, the Foreign Office in 1953, Washington in 1955 and the Foreign Office again in 1959, where he was Under-Secretary 1966–67. He was British Ambassador to Peru 1967–70, to Portugal 1970–74 and to Belgium 1974–78. He was a Special Representative of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 1979–94, was a member of the Council of St Dunstan's 1981–89 and a Commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 1981–86.
He was appointed CVO in 1957, CMG in 1964, and knighted KCMG in 1976. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Portuguese Military Order of Christ and the Grand Cross of the Peruvian Order of Distinguished Service.
|Ambassador from the United Kingdom to Peru
Hugh Travers Morgan
Sir Anthony Lambert
|Ambassador from the United Kingdom to Portugal
Hon. Sir Nigel Trench
Sir John Beith
|Ambassador from the United Kingdom to Belgium
Sir Peter Wakefield
In 1942 David Muirhead married the Hon. Elspeth Hope-Morley, daughter of the 2nd Baron Hollenden and Lady Hollenden, née the Hon. Mary Gardner, daughter of Herbert Gardner, 1st Baron Burghclere. They had two sons and one daughter. Lady Muirhead (as she became) died in 1989.
- Obituary, The Times, 10 February 1999
- The London Gazette, 13 July 1937
- MUIRHEAD, Sir David (Francis), Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007, accessed 25 March 2012
- The London Gazette, 27 July 1948
- The London Gazette, 29 October 1957
- The London Gazette, 13 June 1964
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 1 January 1976