Antony Acland

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Sir Antony Arthur Acland, KG, GCMG, GCVO, (born 12 March 1930) is a British diplomat. The son of Peter Acland and Bridget Susan Barnett, he was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, gaining an MA in 1956.

From 1975 to 1977, he was British Ambassador to Luxembourg. Head of the Diplomatic Service (Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office) between 1982 and 1986, Acland was then Ambassador to from 1986 to 1991 under Margaret Thatcher. He was created Provost of Eton College in 1991 and retired in 2000. He was awarded GCMG in 1986, GCVO in 1991 and the Order of the Garter in 2001.[1]


Acland joined the Diplomatic Service in 1953. His career included:

  • Middle Eastern Centre for Arab Studies, 1954;
  • Dubai, 1955;
  • Kuwait, 1956;
  • Foreign Office, 1958-62;
  • Assistant Private Secretary to Secretary of State, 1959-62
  • Mission to UN, 1962-66;
  • Head of Chancery, UK Mission, Geneva [Switzerland], 1966-68;
  • FCO, 1968,
    • Head of Arabian Department, 1970-72;
    • Principal Private Secretary to Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, 1972-75;
  • Ambassador to Luxembourg, 1975-77,
  • to Spain, 1977-79;
  • Deputy Under-Secretary of State, FCO, 1980-82,
  • Permanent Under-Secretary of State, FCO, and Head of Diplomatic Service, 1982-86;
  • Ambassador to Washington [United States], 1986-91.[2]


Acland is an opponent of the United Kingdom's entry into the Euro. The Telegraph reported:

Sir Antony Acland, a former head of the Diplomatic Service and one-time ambassador to the United States, joined the fray in support of another former head of the Foreign Office, Sir John Coles, who argued that British influence would be best served by staying outside the euro. Sir Antony was supported by Sir Ewen Ferguson and Sir Oliver Wright, former ambassadors to France and Germany, Sir John Graham, a former permanent UK representative to Nato, and Sir Peter Marshall, one-time permanent representative to the United Nations... Last week, 16 diplomats led by Sir Michael Palliser, another former head of the Diplomatic Service, responded saying it would be a "dereliction of the national interest" to allow Britain to be sidelined in the EU by remaining outside the single currency.[3]

Whilst Provost of Eton he frequently recalled his time in Washington. He did this so often that it became a running gag amongst boys and beaks alike, "when I was in Washington." He played a crucial role in enlisting American support for the UK during the South Atlantic conflict of 1982. He allegedly urged Margaret Thatcher to order the sinking of the Belgrano.

He has been married twice; first in 1956 and again, after his first wife died, in 1987. He has two sons and a daughter by his first marriage.



  1. Biography
  2. Ibid.
  3. By Robert Shrimsley Chief Political Correspondent Anti-euro campaign backed by ex-envoys Daily Telegraph, Monday 12 July 1999