John Barnes, Historian

Anthony Royle (Lord Fanshawe of Richmond) 1927-2001

Royle's principal contribution to politics was the part he played in swinging British public opinion behind Heath's successful bid to secure British entry into the European Community. Although much of the credit must go to Geoffrey Tucker's media breakfasts and to the European Movement's campaign group, Royle, working very closely with the minister responsible for the negotiations, Geoffrey Rippon, took charge of the co-ordinating group that ensured that the Government and its allies spoke with one voice and that they did so with full knowledge of the progress being made in the negotiations and full attention to the political exigencies in Westminster. As a junior minister in the Foreign Office and a former whip, Royle was well placed to give the lead required and good judges attribute to the twice weekly meetings that he chaired in his room at the Foreign Office much of the success achieved in building a consensus on the provision of information and the means of persuading the British public that entry was in the best interests of Britain. The crucial part this played in the summer of 1971, when the Conservative parliamentary party's commitment to entry hardened in the light of growing public support cannot be overestimated.

Later in his career, as the party's Vice Chairman responsible for candidatures, Royle was responsible for an important shift in approach that diminished the role hitherto played by interviews by himself and party figures in favour of candidate weekends closely modelled on the process for selecting officer candidates for Sandhurst. Royle brought in Brigadier Somerville to design the new procedures and ensured that they became the basis of a rather more socially varied candidate's list.

Anthony Henry Fanshawe Royle was himself the product of Harrow and Sandhurst. He was born on 27 March 1927, the son of Sir Lancelot Royle KBE. From 1945 until 1948 he served with the Life Guards, initially in Germany and then in the Middle East, rising to the rank of Captain, and he then enlisted as a trooper in the 21st SAS Regiment (TA) with whom he remained until 1951. While en route for Korea with an independent squadron of the SAS, he was stricken with poliomyelitis and was invalided out of the army.

By profession an insurance broker and a member of Lloyds, he joined Sedgwick Collins in 1948, but was soon involved in Conservative politics. He fought St Pancras North in the 1955 General Election and, while President of the Western Area Young Conservatives, had the ill fortune to be selected to fight Torrington in the 1958 by-election. It had been held since 1950 by a National Liberal, George Lambert, who had followed his father in the old South Molton division in 1945. The Liberals had not contested the seat in 1951 or 1955 and their decision to do so when Lambert inherited his father's title was a sign of reviving Liberal fortunes. He narrowly lost the seat to Mark Bonham Carter taking 13,189 votes to the victor's 13,408. The Conservatives were to regain the seat at the 1959 General Election, but Royle by then had been chosen to succeed Sir George Harvie Watt at Richmond and he held the seat with a comfortable majority in 1959. He retained it for six General Elections, latterly in the face of an increasing Liberal challenge that slowly squeezed out the Labour vote and left Royle well short of the overall majority he had once enjoyed.

On reaching the Commons, he was almost immediately chosen to become Julian Amery's PPS and he followed his ministerial chief to the Air Ministry 1960-62 and served him well in a more turbulent period at Aviation between 1962 and 1964. In opposition he was elected Vice Chairman of the Conservative Foreign Affairs Committee and in 1967 was asked to join the Whips Office. He had already served as an Assembly Member of the Council of Europe and WEU in 1965, and was a natural choice as Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Foreign Office in 1970. He remained there until the Government was defeated in the February 1974 General Election and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services.

After the Conservatives went into opposition, he took directorships in a number of major companies, but remained active in the Commons, first as Chairman and then Vice Chairman of the Conservative committee on European Affairs, as a member of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs 1979-83, and as Chairman of the Select Committee on Broadcasting 1979- 83. In 1979 he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Party Organisation with responsibility for Conservative candidates and he also took the chair of the party's International Office and its Overseas Committee.

However, in 1980 he accepted the chair of the Wilkinson Sword Group. Although he relinquished that post in 1983, his acceptance of it probably contributed to his decision to stand down from the Commons in 1983. He was raised to the peerage as baron Fanshawe of Richmond. There is little doubt that he would have liked to continue his work at the heart of the party in some capacity, but Ian Gow felt that the implementation of Royle's reforms was now complete and that it was the right time to make a change. Margaret Thatcher accepted his advice and Royle relinquished his various party posts in 1984. Jim Spicer, who had worked with him at the International Office and who succeeded him as Vice Chairman, stresses the importance of Royle's work for the Conservative party and the judgement is confirmed by academic experts on political recruitment..

Royle had never been in the best of health and he now concentrated on business. He became a director of the Sedgwick Group in 1984 and chaired it from 1993 until 1997. He was also brought into the troubled helicopter firm Westland as a director in 1985 and remained with it until 1994. He had become a director of Rank Xerox in 1988 and of TI in 1990. Subsequently he joined the European Advisory Board of Prat and Whitney. Although he retained his connection with Xerox, he gave up his remaining connections with Sedgwick and with TI in 1999. As a development trustee, he took a keen interest in the National Army Museum from 1981 until his death.

Royle was an attractive figure with considerable presence. Spicer describes him as "a very private man, never one for hanging around the smoking room, but well respected and well liked by his colleagues in the House". He had striven to overcome the effects of earlier illness with considerable courage and with considerable success, although he was never entirely fit.

His wife, Shirley Worthington, whom he married in 1957 and their two daughters survived him.