Belfast Telegraph

'Keeper' of Queen's Northern Ireland palace David Anderson dies aged 58

By Steven Alexander

The "extraordinary man" who looked after the Queen's residence in Northern Ireland for more than a quarter-of-a-century has died.

David Anderson is said to have presided over more formal occasions than anyone else in Northern Ireland as the household manager of Hillsborough Castle.

The 58-year-old father-of-three worked under four Prime Ministers, 12 Secretaries of State, and looked after the Queen and other members of the royal family when they stayed here.

Aside from the Queen and other royals, he was said to be more or less on first-name terms with all the dignitaries and VIPs who stopped by.

He left in 2009 to take charge of the running of Montalto House outside Ballynahinch.

He was made a member of the Victorian Order in the Queen's 2010 New Year Honours List.

In recent years Mr Anderson is believed to have been working in London.

Former Secretary of State Shaun Woodward paid warm tribute to him yesterday.

"David Anderson was an extraordinary man, a loyal colleague, a true friend, loved by his friends - not least by my family - and he embodied decency to his very core," he said.

"He ran Hillsborough with enormous skill and care. It was of course a home for the Secretary of State, a royal palace for the Queen, an office for Government and as such - over many years - David witnessed so much that would lead to peace agreements and political agreements for Northern Ireland.

"David was there at the heart of it all, making it work.

"Everyone enjoyed being with him. He was the embodiment of reliability.

"We trusted David. From the most senior royals to the young apprentice learning to become a gardener. David could work with everyone and anyone. He was respected and loved."

Another former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, said: "David in many ways was Hillsborough Castle.

"At a time when Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State relied on it as a family home, a negotiating space, a summit venue or a royal visit, it was David who always made it work with panache, wit and seemingly effortless behind-the-scenes work."

The aftermath of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement by Margaret Thatcher and Garret FitzGerald at Hillsborough in November 1985 was a difficult period for him and the staff. But there were many highlights, including the Tony Blair and George Bush summit in 2003, the visit of the Dalai Lama in 2004, and a major investment conference back in May 2007.

Mr Woodward and the late Mo Mowlam were among his favourite residents, and according to friends, he spoke highly of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Mark Durkan and David Ervine.

Another favourite guest was Princess Diana. He said in 2009: "She was just lovely. She was charming, gorgeous and fun to be around. She never stayed overnight but always stayed longer than scheduled, giving people her time."

by steven alexander

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph