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Glencairn Balfour Paul


1917 - 2008

Diplomat, traveller and Arabist. Born in Moniaive (Dumfries & Galloway), the grandson of Sir James Balfour Paul, Lord Lyon King of Arms (1846 - 1931), Balfour Paul was named after the parish in which that village lies. He was educated in England, reading classics at at Magdalen College, Oxford.

He served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during World War II before being sent east to Egypt and then to Sudan. Thereafter, he worked in the Sudan Political Service and then the Diplomatic Service in Chile, Lebanon, Dubai and Bahrain before becoming Ambassador to Iraq (1969), then Jordan (1972) and Tunisia (1975), where he served until his retirement. He was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1968. While in Beirut he was due to entertain his friend Kim Philby to dinner, but Philby fled to Moscow and turned out to have been a Soviet spy. Balfour Paul was aghast at Philby's deceit.

Balfour Paul went on to become Director-General of the Middle East Association in London before joining Exeter University as a Research Fellow in Arab Studies.

He published several works including The End of Empire in the Middle East (1991), and the Middle East section of The Oxford History of the British Empire (1999). He also produced a collection of poetry, A Kind of Kindness (2000) and wrote his autobiography, Bagpipes in Babylon (2006).

Balfour Paul died at his home in Devon (England).


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