Former long-serving royal correspondent for The Times Alan Hamilton died on Wednesday of a heart attack aged 70.
In its obituary today, The Times says:
Never obsequious, Hamilton turned the most mundane of royal occasions or visits into an interesting and colourful dispatch. Nor did he censor his reporting in deference to the Palace. It was Hamilton who discovered and disseminated the Duke of Edinburgh’s notorious comments about “slitty-eyed” Chinese during a Far East tour."
After graduating from Edinburgh University with an English degree, Hamilton went to work as a local newsaper reporter in Burnley.
He then covered industrial relations for the Hemel Hempstead Evening Post before joining The Times as one of a four-person labour reporting team in 1969.
After working as a general reporter and diary writer he became home news special writer in 1982 and covered the royal beat for the paper for the next 26 years. He retired from The Times in 2008.
He shunned modern technology professionally, preferrring to write his pieces long hand and dictating them to copy-takers over the phone.
On a visit to China in 1986 Prince Phillip told a group of students from the University of Edinburgh that if they stayed in China too long they were in danger of becoming slitty-eyed.
No journalists were present but Hamilton heard about the comment from a student afterwards.
According to The Times, he passed the comment on to colleagues prompting the royal press secretary to ask reporters not to create a diplomatic incident by reporting the remark.
“Surely The Times, of all people, are not going to use this?” he implored Hamilton. “Most certainly,” Hamilton replied, “but not until paragraph 14.”
Former Times editor Peter Stothard told the paper:
Alan Hamilton was a wise and subtle man of words who brought colour to news in greyer days and understood Times readers better than any reporter on the paper. Half the readership felt that The Times should not report the marital battleground of the Prince and Princess of Wales in the 1990s. Half could not get enough of it. Alan steered The Times elegantly and knowledgeably through the minefield.”
Writing on Twitter former Times chief sub Liz Gerard said: "His beautiful copy was impossible to sub, not a word wasted."