Courtesy – The Guardian of UK






Maj. Gen. Anton Muttukumaru was a barrister, soldier and diplomat who loved collecting walking sticks. He was known for being charming and shrewd, had a talent for mimicry, and was once driven to Ascot to join the Queen because she was too busy enjoying the races to meet him at Buckingham Palace.

photo courtesy - The Guardian

Maj Gen Anton Muttukumaru receives the Coronation medal from the Queen in the 1950s.

Photograph: Family handout

Born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Muttukumaruwas the Queen’s aide-de-camp in 1954.

Now, almost 70 years on, and with the royal family caught in a race storm in the wake of the Oprah Winfrey interview with Duke andDuchess of Sussex, Muttukumaru’s son Christopher spoke to the Guardian about his father’s experiences.

He described the friendship his father had with the Queen which endured for years beyond his time in service.

“Years later, whenever my father came to the UK to visit my family and me – long after he had any official position in the army or diplomatic service – the Queen would give him a private audience in Buckingham Palace,” said Christopher, a former general counsel to the Department for Transport. “There was no need for her to do that – my father was just an ordinary member of the public by this time – but she made time in her diary for him from the 70s onwards.”

One year, when the Queen was at Ascot at the time of Muttukumaru’s visit, her private secretary arranged for him and his wife to be driven to see her there. “My parents watched the races with the Queen in the royal box and my father won £25 – which he was cock-a-hoop about because he didn’t know the first thing about horse racing,” Christopher said.

photo courtesy - The Guardian
Maj Gen Anton Muttukumaru receives the Coronation medal from the Queen in the 1950s.            Photograph: Family handout

The first Sri Lanka-born soldier to command his country’s army, Muttukumaru read PPE at Jesus College, Oxford, in 1928 and became a lawyer at Gray’s Inn before returning home in 1934.

Muttukumaru joined the Ceylon Defence Force and at the outbreak of the Second World War he was in charge of the South East Asia Command headquarters in Kandy.

After the war, Muttukumaru came to London to lead his soldiers in the victory parade. He returned six years later with his men for the funeral of George VI in 1952, and a third time a year later for the Queen’s coronation.

Hearing of his plan to attend her coronation, the soon-to-be Queen issued a personal invitation – couched as a command – to attend the service in Westminster Abbey. Muttukumaru, however, decided to march with his soldiers instead.

According to his 2001 obituary in the Telegraph, the Queen forgave his refusal and, after later seeing his men mounting guard at Buckingham Palace along with her own guardsmen, congratulated him on the smartness of his men.

“Regarding the controversy over a member of the royal family asking (if true) about the colourof the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, my point is that if she was somebody who harboured views about coloured or black people, it certainly didn’t come through in her treatment of my father,” Christopher said.

Muttukumaru went on to become his country’s high commissioner to Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan. In 1966 he became ambassador to Egypt. Four years previously he had hosted lunch for the Queen Mother in Canberra with his wife, Peggy, and the then Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt.

Muttukumaru, who died in 2000 aged 92, always spoke with great affection of the Queen’s treatment of him, said his son.


Muttukumaru poses next to the Queen Mother in Canberra. The Australian PM, Harold Holt, and Muttukumaru’s wife are to the left of the royal.



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