Prince Charles

Ex-governor David Wilson 'clueless' why he got job over Prince Charles

David Wilson 'clueless' as to why he got the job over prince after the death of Edward Youde

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2012, 11:53am

Former Hong Kong governor David Wilson has no idea why he was assigned to run the city in the 1980s instead of Prince Charles, who, according to a recent book, once topped a list of candidates.

The heir to the British throne could have been made governor in 1987, after Edward Youde died of a heart attack in Beijing in late 1986, diplomat Sherard Cowper-Coles wrote in his memoirs, The Sunday Times reported this month. Then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher eventually chose Wilson.

Wilson, 77, and a member of the House of Lords, said he had read the book but was still clueless as to why he was picked. "I have read precisely the same book which refers to it, but no, I have no idea," he said yesterday. "All I can say is that it was a very sad occasion for Hong Kong when Sir Edward Youde died. I knew him very well indeed.

"It was a great privilege to be chosen and appointed to succeed him and have the job for 5½ years, which, quite seriously, was the most interesting and worthwhile job I have had in my life."

Wilson, now chancellor of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, is in Hong Kong with his wife to present a Scottish tartan designed for the University of Hong Kong to mark a century of ties between the two institutions.

Wilson, who is also an alumnus and former chancellor of HKU, recalled studying Mandarin there in the early 1960s.

Also attending the ceremony was alumnus and former development minster Mak Chai-kwong, who is fighting a misconduct charge. Mak would not comment on the performance of successor Paul Chan Mo-po.

Last year, Wilson told a group of HKU alumni in London that it had been a good idea to seat him next to the podium during the university's centenary ceremony last year, to spare him a long walk to the stage. The university was accused of political toadying for placing Vice-Premier Li Keqiang at the centre of the first row of guests and Wilson to the side in the second row.

Wilson said it was wonderful to have Li at the ceremony, saying it was "a mark of respect for this ancient university". He regretted some reports focused on negative aspects of the ceremony.