Tutankhamun’s Last Guardian
The young Pharaoh has gripped peoples’ imagination and changed lives. Desmond Zwar looks at the career of the man who claimed to have spent seven years living in the tomb, guarding it while Howard Carter examined its contents.
At the end of the day just before Christmas 1968, a visitor was ushered into my office at the Daily Mail. A small man with a round head topped by white hair. He was clutching his hat and apologizing for being ‘a trouble’. He arrived from the lift, seventy-ish, in threadbare black suit. He didn’t want to be a bother, but he had just come from being with Prince Charles at Cambridge University. Richard Adamson explained that back in 1922 he had been in Luxor, Egypt with archaeologist Howard Carter, and he needed an important photograph he had taken at the time; he wondered if our newspaper could help?
Mr Carter had been picking over the last area he was to dig in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings; searching for the boy king, Tutankhamun’s tomb. I was at the time, a 23-year-old; I’d been a policeman in Cairo, well ... more than a policeman really.
Well, what was he?
He looked uncomfortable. He had actually been involved in ‘security work’ in Cairo, infiltrating the Wafd Party which was attempting to overthrow British rule in Egypt.
I had passed on information which led to the arrest of 28 Egyptians – four of them sentenced to death and the rest jailed. I was a marked man, and it was deemed advisable to send me away from Cairo.
The ‘authorities’ had bundled him off by train to Luxor to join Howard Carter and his patron, Lord Carnarvon, in the Valley of the Kings. Carter had agreed to employ the young military policeman to type up his notes on the daily dig.