Governor of Southern Rhodesia

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Governor of Southern Rhodesia
Flag of the Governor of Southern Rhodesia (1952-1970)
Style His Excellency The Right Honourable
Appointer King/Queen of the United Kingdom
Formation 1 October 1923
First holder The Rt Hon. John Chancellor
Final holder The Lord Soames
Abolished 18 April 1980

The Governor of Southern Rhodesia was the representative of the British monarch in the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia from 1923 to 1980. He was appointed by the Crown and acted as the local head of state, receiving instructions from the British Government.


Constitutional role

The Governor was also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and as such, in theory at least, exercised considerable influence over the running of the colony and its government, but in practice, the Governor's main function was to maintain a satisfactory relationship between the British and Southern Rhodesian Governments and acted in an advisory capacity most of the time. From 1951, however, in contrast to other colonies, the British government was represented in Southern Rhodesia by a High Commissioner in Salisbury. [1]

When Southern Rhodesia was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, the position of the Governor remained unchanged, but as Salisbury became the capital of the Federation, the Governor General resided at Government House, previously the Governor's official residence. [2] During this time, the Governor of Southern Rhodesia resided at Governor's Lodge in the suburb of Highlands. [3]


Following the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, the government of Ian Smith ceased to recognise the authority of the then Governor, Sir Humphrey Gibbs, and appointed Clifford Dupont to exercise the Governor's powers as Officer Administering the Government. [4]

However, Gibbs continued to occupy Government House, asserting his position as the Queen's de jure representative, and did not resign from the post until June 1969, following the decision of white voters in a referendum to approve a new constitution declaring Rhodesia, as Southern Rhodesia had become more commonly known, a republic. [5]

In 1977, Field Marshal Lord Carver was designated Resident Commissioner for Rhodesia, but he resigned fourteen months later. [6]

The office of Governor remained vacant until 11 December 1979, when The Lord Soames assumed the post, following the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, under which Southern Rhodesia would achieve de jure independence as Zimbabwe on 18 April 1980.


Flag of the Governor of Southern Rhodesia (1924–1951)
Flag of the Governor of Southern Rhodesia (1951–1952)

In common with most other British colonies, the flag used by the Governor, as the Sovereign's representative in Southern Rhodesia was initially a Union Flag with a white roundel in the centre, charged with the shield from the colony's arms granted on 11 August 1924. Unique among the flags of the Governors of British Colonies, this shield of Arms was not surrounded by the customary wreath. This flag was adopted on 1 October 1924 and was flown until 30 July 1951.

On 31 July 1951, a new flag was put into use for the Governor of Southern Rhodesia. This was dark blue and charged in the centre with a Royal Crown, its height being four-sevenths of the hoist. Initially the Tudor Crown would have been used, but after her accession to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II indicated her preference for St Edward's Crown and this version would have been used thereafter. Although the colony had attained 'Responsible Government' in 1923, it was never a fully fledged Dominion, and so did not have a Governor-General, whose flag in other Dominions would be dark blue, charged in the centre with the Royal Crest above a Crown, with the name of the Dominion written in a yellow scroll below.

Governors of Southern Rhodesia (1923–1980)

Took officeLeft officeName
1 October 192315 June 1928Sir John Chancellor
15 June 192824 November 1928Sir Murray Bisset
24 November 19281 May 1934Sir Cecil Hunter-Rodwell
1 May 19348 January 1935Sir Fraser Russell
Acting; 1st Time
8 January 19358 January 1942Sir Herbert Stanley
8 January 194210 December 1942Sir Fraser Russell
Acting; 2nd Time
10 December 194226 October 1944Sir Evelyn Baring
26 October 194420 February 1945Sir Robert James Hudson
Acting; 1st Time
20 February 19452 February 1946Sir Campbell Tait
2 February 194619 July 1946Sir Fraser Russell
Acting; 3rd Time
19 July 194614 January 1947Sir Robert James Hudson
Acting; 2nd Time
14 January 194721 November 1953Sir John Noble Kennedy
21 November 195326 November 1954Sir Robert Clarkson Tredgold
26 November 195428 December 1959Sir Peveril William-Powlett
28 December 195924 June 1969Sir Humphrey Gibbs
After the UDI on 11 November 1965, position not recognized by the Rhodesian government
24 June 196911 December 1979Position vacantOn 1 September 1977, The Lord Carver was named as Resident Commissioner-designate
11 December 197918 April 1980 The Lord Soames

For continuation after independence, see: List of Presidents of Zimbabwe

See also