PHILIP ADAMS was a most self- effacing man. It says much for his quality and talent and is perhaps a tribute to the perspicacity of the Diplomatic Service to which he devoted the greater part of his working life that, as ambassador successively to Jordan and Egypt, he came to hold two of the most important posts in that troubled region in which he had specialised.
His father was a doctor, from a long line of doctors, but Philip Adams did not follow family tradition. Instead, after leaving Lancing College, he read PPE at Christ Church, Oxford. After a period of preparation including travels in Germany and France with his father and a time in Heidelberg where he was able to observe the growth of Nazism, he passed into the Levant Consular Service in 1938 and was posted as a probationary Vice- Consul to Beirut, to learn Arabic in the time spared from his official duties.
With the outbreak of the Second World War Adams volunteered for the Army and was duly commissioned and posted as Intelligence Officer to an Australian battalion. In that capacity he took part in the invasion of Lebanon and Syria in 1941 to oust the Vichy French regime, and was present at the battle for the crossing of the Litani River in Southern Lebanon. However he was soon recalled by the Foreign Office, into which the separate consular services were absorbed, and spent the rest of the war working in Cairo.
In 1945 he was posted to Jedda for two years before returning to the Foreign Office in 1947. Postings followed to Vienna in 1951, to Khartoum in 1954, where as Charge d'Affaires he established the first British Embassy after Sudanese independence, and in 1956 to Beirut, where he held the testing appointment of Regional Information Officer at the time of the Suez debacle. It was in Vienna that he met Libby Lawrence who was working in the embassy. They married in 1954 and together formed a famously happy and successful partnership for the next 47 years.
After a short spell in London Adams was appointed Consul- General in Chicago, a key post in the advancement of British commercial interests and in explaining British policies to the American public. This was a particularly happy time and the Adamses formed many enduring friendships in the Windy City and the wider area.
Adams's knack of being at the centre of trouble was tested again when he became ambassador to Jordan in 1966. The Six Day War between Israel and the Arab states broke out in June 1967, and the ambassador's residence, on the same hill and some 400 yards from the the King's Palace, came under attack from the air. The Adamses evacuated this exposed position, which in any case had become over the years more and more politically inappropriate, and established themselves in a new house on the other side of Amman which has since remained the ambassador's residence.
In 1970 Adams returned to London, first as an Assistant Under- Secretary in the Foreign Office and later as Deputy Secretary in the Cabinet Office. It was in the latter capacity that he accompanied Lord Goodman on two visits to Rhodesia as pathfinders for Sir Alec Douglas- …