The Rome Embassy of Sir Eric Drummond, 16th Earl of Perth, 1933 - 1939.
When Sir Eric Drurnmond. arrived In Rome in October 1 933
to begin his duties as His I1ajesty's Ambassador to the
Quirinal, he had just completed IL1. years service as the
first secretary general of the league of nations. At Geneva
he earned a reputation as a skilled administrator, a model
civil servant and an accomplished statesman.
By the end of his tenure In Rome In 1939 he was widely
accused of being an active symphatiser of the Italian regime
end Its style of government. Instead of explaining the Duce's
policies to the foreign office, the ambassador's detractors
claim that he tried to justify and even advocate them. A
statement that the Italian foreign minister, Count Galeazzo
Ciano, recorded in the privacy of his dairy - that the
British ambassador had come "to understand and even to love
fascism" while in Rome -- Is used both as a conclusion to
this school of thought as well as evidence in its support.
And this view has become firmly established as the verdict
The ambassador himself was satisfied with his record In
Rome snd was convinced that the documents would bear him out.
The documents to which he referred are now re'eased and. It is
indeed clear from them that the case against him must be
called into question and. a reappraisal made of his years In
The motives behind Sir Eric Drummond's actions in Rome
were far different than those which have been attributed to
him by his detractors. He arrived at the policies he advocated
not from any sympathy for Italian fascism but from a
pragmatic appraisal of Britain's strategic position In the
Mediterranean. He cultivated Ciano's friendship by faittering
him so that he might improve his effectiveness as an en
His advice was generally sound and he followed his instruclkns
faithfully. The success of his diplomatic mission must be
judged by the fact that when war came In 1939, Italy remained