Great British eccentrics
Sir Hugh Charles Rhys Rankin (1899–1988)
THE son of a big-game hunter, Sir Hugh was born in the middle of the Tunisian desert—a fitting start to a life fully lived. As a boy, he ran away from Harrow to work in a Belfast shipyard, before enlisting in the army. He joined the Royal Dragoon Guards and soon became a broad-sword champion. In 1931, Sir Hugh was living as a sheep farmer in Western Australia when he inherited his baronetcy. Later, he travelled throughout the Middle East and met Lord Headley, who convinced him to convert to Islam. Sir Hugh obliged, adopting the name Omar, and became the President of the British Muslim Society. However, finding the other members ‘very rude’, he resigned after a few weeks and turned to Buddhism.