Sir Rex Hunt, the governor of the Falkland Islands who told Argentine forces they were “very uncivilised to invade British territory,” has died, aged 86.
Flags were flown at half mast in Stanley, the islands’ capital, and a book of condolence has been opened at the cathedral.
Sir Rex died in hospital on Sunday night.
When Argentine forces landed on 2 April 1982, he ordered the small detachment of Royal Marines defending Government House to surrender, to avoid loss of life.
Then, wearing his full ceremonial uniform, he went out and told the invading commander: “You have landed unlawfully on British territory and I order you to remove yourself and your troops forthwith.”
He was expelled and removed to Uruguay, and then flew to the UK, where he became famous for his dignified stand and as an advocate for the islanders.
In speeches in the UK, he told the British public the fight for the islands was “worth it.”
He added: “I have never had a word back from any of the people who went there – no matter how badly injured – who said it wasn’t worth it – not one.”
After the liberation, he returned to Stanley and stayed in post until 1985.
Sir Rex had joined the Colonial Service in 1952 after service in the RAF.
Legislative councillor Roger Edwards said: “Sir Rex will forever be remembered in the islands for his years of service as governor, and particularly for his courage and dignity in facing the Argentine invasion in 1982.
“A loyal friend of the Falkland Islands, he served for many years as chairman of the Falkland Islands Association and as president of the UK Falkland Islands Trust.
“His passion and commitment to the Falkland Islands will be sorely missed. The thoughts and deepest sympathies of all Falkland Islanders are with his family and friends at this sad time.”
The Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “Like the islanders themselves, he demonstrated great courage and fortitude in the face of Argentine aggression during the Falklands conflict.
“After the conflict, he contributed to the transformation of the islands into a vibrant, modern and successful democracy.”
I’m feeling very sad at the death of Rex Hunt. He was the first governor I liked and respected. That was because he liked and respected us. He was remarkably brave in 82, and inspired a sense of fortitude among Islanders. We were so fond of him because he “went native” – probably to the horror of the Foreign Office. We had our disagreements over Penguin News stories, but I truly admired him. He will not be forgotten in the Falklands
– Graham Bound, Falklands-born journalist, UK
COMMENTS ON TWITTER:
Very sorry to hear that Sir Rex Hunt has died. A true friend to the Falklands. Courageous and inspirational gentleman
– David Archer@davidarcherNI
Sir Rex Hunt—a modest, indomitable man. The peoples’ diplomat who was in the right place at the right time
– Alasdair Pinkerton@AlPinkerton
HAVE YOUR SAY: Share your thoughts here.
READ MORE: Google News on Sir Rex Hunt