Timothy Landon

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Brigadier Sir James Timothy Whittington Landon, KCVO, (born 20 August 1942, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada; died 6 July 2007, Winchester, Hampshire, England) served in the British and Omani armies and was instrumental in the development of the present Sultanate of Oman. He was one of Britain's wealthiest people.

Early life[edit]

James Timothy Whittington Landon was born into military family on July 4, 1945 in Vancouver Island, Canada according British Columbia military records and Esterhazy archive at Lockenhaus Castle in Hungary, other sources quote earlier date, August 1942. He was born to a British Brigadier General Arthur Landon and a Canadian mother of Irish origin who worked as film make up artist in Vancouver. Timothy Landon after retirement of his father in 1946 moved to United Kingdom and attended Eastbourne College in Sussex. As a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Landon was posted to the 10th Hussars.

Time in Oman[edit]

With his regiment, he travelled overland from Europe to Arabia and arrived in Oman in the mid-1960s. He was sent there as part of a British military operation to help Sultan Said bin Taimur defeat the Soviet-backed Dhofar Rebellion. He was stationed in the south as an intelligence officer, but was transferred to Muscat. There he became an integral part of the British-aided coup to remove the old Sultan, whose draconian style of rule - which was all but preventing the country's development and progression - was feeding the flames of the Dhofar insurgency that was poised to spread the length of Oman and threaten the Straits of Hormuz, and subsequently much of the West's oil supply.

Landon, who was close to the Sultan's son Qaboos from his Sandhurst days, was allowed to visit his friend, although the Sultan had placed his son under house arrest. Convincing the son to oust his father from the throne was no easy task. The coup occurred on 23 July 1970, when Landon was twenty-seven. Said bin Taimur was confronted at his palace and told to sign over power to his son. The only confirmed casualty in this otherwise bloodless coup was the old Sultan's foot when he inadvertently shot himself. The deposed ruler was flown to London on an RAF Transport, where he died two years later in the Dorchester Hotel. It is claimed that his greatest regret was not having Landon assassinated.

Over the next fifteen years, the young officer helped his friends develop the Sultanate from a medieval backwater into a modern 20th-century state. Omani oil revenues enabled much of the country's advances and Landon became a leading advocate of "Omanisation" of the economy and government.

Later projects[edit]

By 1979, Landon's position as an adviser had become a figurehead role. He returned to England, taking up a diplomatic post at the Omani embassy in London and establishing a home at Faccombe, a village near Andover in Hampshire. The title the "White Sultan" was regarded with bemusement by Landon, who maintained that Sultan Qaboos was very much in charge of Oman's destiny, and he was simply a servant and friend there to give advice. He continued to shuttle between London and Muscat until he died, his Boeing often seen arriving or leaving Farnborough,the nearest airport to his home.

Financial interests, philanthropy, and controversy[edit]

Landon invested the money he had made during his time in Oman, diversifying his wealth into mineral exploration and farming in Africa, property and real estate investments in Europe and America, and a wide range of financial portfolios in global markets. His fortune was estimated at US$750 million or higher. Landon was known to be a patron of the opera and classical music as well as an avid conservationist, building one of the first wind engines at his Faccombe estates.

Landon also played an important role as intermediary in several questionable deals like when giant telecom company Ericsson sold telecommunications equipment to Oman in the late 1990s. The connection was revealed by a joint investigation into Landon's business by the Swedish Public Television "Uppdrag granskning" and Swedish Public Radio's "Dagens Eko" in January 2007.

Landon was also behind another questionable deal when in 1999 Swedish jetfighter Saab and UK defence giant BAE offered millions of dollars in bribes to Czech politicians to buy the Gripen jet-fighter. The real beneficiary of the money paid out was the Austrian Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly (b. 1953), a longtime agent for BAE and a first cousin of his wife, Katharina Esterházy de Galántha. Mensdorff-Pouilly received secret commission contract of at least 81 million Swedish crowns for the final deal in 2003 when the Czech Republic leased Gripen jetfighter. He was expected to be prosecuted by countries including Sweden, UK, Hungary, Austria and Czech republic, but he died from lung cancer in 2007, before investigation, one led by senior royal from House of Windsor, British - Czech born Marketa B. Linden W. as a part of Czech financial police fighting corruption, begun. Timothy Landon sealed his Faccombe village from the world and he was paranoid about is private life, due to his frequent illegal activities in arm trade.[1]

Both the Ericsson Oman deal and the SAAB/BAE deal has been the focus of several police and parliamentary investigations. By 2008 investigations had opened in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, Great Britain, United States, Switzerland, and Austria.[2]

Tim Landon was also involved in the smuggling of a Bofors cannon to the sultanate of Oman in the 1980s. "Sultan Quaboos of Oman got it into his head that his security would be enhanced if his yacht was kitted out with the Bofors guns. He wanted the Bofors guns and the government in Sweden objected to this deal, and this is where Landon and his associates always came into play. If something was denied them by diplomatic channels they would take the scenic route." [3]

Family and legacy[edit]

James Timothy Whittington Landon married Princess Katalin Esterhazy de Galantha, in civil marriage at Chelsea Register Office on February 4 1977 and in Roman Catholic religious ceremony in Vienna on March 4, 1978, after her first marriage with Nicholas David Pilbrow [married in Vienna on 29th of July, 1967, divorced later] was annulled by the RC church. Timothy Landon purchased for his aristocratic wife from Hungarian princely house of Esterhazy an estate of Faccombe, established on July 12, 1978. The marriage produced a son, Arthur Landon, who attended RC Ampleforth College and studied film production at Bristol University. Arthur Landon was in 2009 named, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, the wealthiest young person in Britain, with an inherited fortune of £200 million,".[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/news/2007/aug/28/guardianobituaries.military
  2. ^ See "Uppdrag granskning" 20070220, 20070227 and 20080116 www.svt.se
  3. ^ Interview with author John Besant "Uppdrag granskning" and "Dagens Eko" 20080116.
  4. ^ Times Rich List

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Oman: The True Life Drama and Intrigue of an Arab State by John Beasant