General Sir Patrick Palmer, KCVO, KBE, former

Commanding Officer, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; born April 29, 1933, died, November 23, 1999

General Sir Patrick Palmer, Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle, who has died aged 66, was a former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In addition to his many other honours, his final military appointment was Commander in Chief, Allied Forces, Northern Europe. Very highly regarded in the military sphere, he was also widely renowned for his diplomatic and administrative skills, which enabled him to secure the harmonious co-operation of various groups up to national level.

Charles Patrick Ralph Palmer, son of Charles Palmer, who had served in France with the Argylls before joining the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, was born on April 29, 1933.

After education at Marlborough College and Sandhurst he was commissioned into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1953, and served

with the regiment in British Guyana, Berlin, Suez, and then Cyprus during the EOKA terrorist campaign.

From 1961 to 1962 he was an instructor at Sandhurst, took the course at the staff college, Camberley, in 1963, and was then appointed brigade major with 153 Highland Infantry Brigade (TA). He returned to the Argylls in 1965 to command a company in Borneo, where the ''confrontation'' against invading Indonesian troops was taking place. His next assignment was Aden in 1967, where he was again involved in anti-terrorist duties. This was followed by a home posting in the Ministry of Defence where he was military assistant to the deputy chief of the Defence Staff (Intelligence).

From 1970-72 he was an instructor at Camberley, and was then given the task of restoring to battalion strength and efficiency the 1st Argylls, who had been reduced to a single company by the 1967 defence cuts, which higher authority subsequently decided had gone too deep. Palmer tackled his challenging task with such vigour and efficiency that he was able to take the restored battalion to serve in the testing conditions of South Armagh. At the conclusion of this tour, in 1974, he was awarded the OBE.

From 1974-76 he was chief of staff to the commandant of British Forces, Hong Kong, then attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1977, commanded 7th Armoured Brigade from1977-78, and became deputy commander of the

1st Armoured Division from 1978-80. In 1980 he was appointed major general in command of the British Army advisory and training Teams in Zimbabwe, a post in which he displayed notable diplomatic skills. He was made a CBE in 1982.

Subsequent posts were command of North East District and 2nd Infantry Division, commandant of the Staff College, Camberley, and military secretary at the MOD from 1986-89. His final post as C-in-C, AFNORTH required great tact and diplomacy in reconciling the views of different nations without in any way weakening the NATO position in this important region.

After retirement from the Army he became an extremely popular governor of Windsor Castle in 1992, and patron of many local charities. Sadly he had to retire prematurely from this post after the diagnosis of cancer.

A tall, handsome, impressive man, Patrick Palmer had been a useful all-round athlete in his youth and was a highly capable infantryman and commanding officer. All who met him, throughout his brilliant career, agreed that his success as a leader and a diplomat derived from his total, immediately recognisable, integrity.

His first wife, Sonia Wigglesworth, whom he married in 1960, died in 1965. They had a son. He is survived by his second wife, Joanna Baines, whom he married in 1966. They had two daughters.

Andrew Miles