By Rory Reynolds
A SCOTS diplomat who was one of the Queen’s most trusted aides for almost a decade is to be laid to rest in Edinburgh next week.
Michael Shea died on Saturday aged 71 having served as the Queen’s press secretary from 1978 to 1987 and accompanied her to 65 countries during a tumultuous period for the Royal Family.
The career diplomat also served during the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana and became a well-known figure in the UK after speaking on behalf of the Royal couple.
The Queen herself was said to be “saddened” after hearing that Lanarkshire-born media professional turned author had died.
Shea first served in Bonn during the Cold War, after being “poached” by the Foreign Service.
He then met a Norwegian diplomat, who would become his wife, and would later draw on his experiences in Germany to pen his successful novel, Sonntag. Throughout his career Shea wrote two dozen books, including many thriller novels in a time when spies were stalking the street of the German capital and back home the IRA were terrorising London and Belfast.
One, Sonntag, went on to be translated into eight language and spurred the young author on to write two dozen more.
A later novel, The Dollar Convenant, features the dystopian future of an independent Scotland, where the country is paralysed, the economy in ruins and a huge US telecommunications company is attempting to seize control of the country.
Like his predecessor at the British embassy, David Cornwell, better known as, John le Carre, Shea also had to write under the name Michael Sinclair.
Once he retired, he republished his terrifying vision of an independent Scotland under his real name in 2000 and used the basis of the original plot for a series called State of a Nation, which was serialized in The Herald in 1997.
Shea was also an active member of the arts in Edinburgh, chairing the Royal Lyceum Theatre, directing the Edinburgh Tattoo and working as a member of the Edinburgh University Court.
Former Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Eric Milligan, who was a close friend of Michael’s, said he “oozed charm” and possessed a keen intellect, adding: “I am sure that everybody who mattered in Scottish society was on first-name terms with him – he was quite a remarkable guy.”
Shea went onto chair Scotland in Europe, a public body charged with representing Scottish firms in Europe.
The proud Scot, who had his own private office on Ramsay Gardens next to Edinburgh Castle, noted at the time that, Scots were often their worst enemies, and that being active in Europe was key for the nation.
He said: “We don’t need enemies when we have each other.
“We have a whinging mentality in which it is always someone else’s fault – we need to talk ourselves up as a nation.”
The service will be held on Tuesday at the Warriston Crematorium Lorimer Chapel in Edinburgh at 11am.
He is survived by his wife Mona and two children, Katriona and Ingeborg, and grandchildren Michael and Esme.