Foreign Office cat Palmerston to leave Whitehall for quiet life in the countryside


One of the most popular faces in Whitehall, Palmerston the Foreign Office cat, is retiring for a quiet life in the countryside.

The affectionately-nicknamed “Diplo Mogg” is meowing out after four years of service, having found “working from home” during the coronavirus outbreak a much more “relaxed, quieter and easier” life.

In a letter penned by his official Twitter account, Palmerston insisted it was no dead cat strategy by Downing Street.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
He is the Foreign Office’s chief mouser

He said it was simply because he’s enjoyed climbing trees and patrolling the fields around his new residence away from the hubbub of central London.

But some will see the news as a power grab by Larry the Downing Street cat, who had several hair-raising run-ins with Palmerston over the years.

“Of course I love the hustle and bustle of the office,” Palmerston wrote in a post titled “important news” tweeted on Friday.

“I will miss hearing the footsteps of an ambassador and sprinting to my hideout to see who it is.

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“My signature moves – pretending to be asleep while overhearing all the foreign dignitaries conversations – will be a major loss for our intelligence gathering.

“But as I grow older, I must take a step back from diplomatic duties and enjoy some me-time.”

Chief mouser' Palmerston, a rescue cat recruited from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home explores his new surroundings in Permanent Under Secretary, Simon McDonald's office in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.
Sir Simon (left) called him a ‘social media phenomenon’

He signed off the message to his more than 100,000 Twitter followers with a promise.

“Although I am ending my formal role here, I will always be an ambassador for the UK and the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.”

Lord Palmerston', circa 1850, (circa 1880). Henry John Temple (1784-1865) British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister and dominated British foreign policy from 1830 to 1865, when Britain was at the height of imperial power. [Blackie & Son, London, Glasgow & Edinburgh]. Artist Unknown. (Photo by The Print Collector via Getty Images)
Palmerston takes his name from a former prime minister

Sir Simon McDonald, the outgoing chief civil servant in the department, paid tribute to Palmerston – who is named after a former prime minister.

He said since arriving from Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, the cat has become a “social media phenomenon” and added: “Everyone at the Foreign Office will miss him.”

Larry the cat lies in the sun in Downing Street, London.
Larry the Downing Street cat may have extended his power base

One former government special adviser, Peter Cardwell, added: “Palmerston has done a brilliant job and hugely deserves his retirement.

“I very much enjoyed working with him and he frequently got little head rubs from me when I saw him on Downing Street.”

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