Spy, Knight... Yogi?
Sir Paul Dukes, KBE
Sir Paul Dukes is the only individual knighted exclusively for his work in espionage. He was born in England and studied at the Petrograd Conservatory and became a language teacher in Latvia before being recruited by Mansfield Smith-Cummings, MI6’s first “C”.
Known as the “man of a hundred faces” Dukes infiltrated Bolshevik institutions and eventually the Communist Party of Russia, passing information back to British intelligence, for which he was knighted in 1920.
From his book Red Dusk and the Morrow: Adventures and Investigations in Soviet Russia on a meeting with British Colonel Frederick Browning:
“You doubtless wonder that no explanation has been given to you as to why you should return to England. Well, I have to inform you, confidentially, that it has been proposed to offer you a somewhat responsible post in the Secret Intelligence Service. We have reason to believe that Russia will not long continue to be open to foreigners. We wish someone to remain there to keep us informed of the march of events.”
Smith-Cumming sent Dukes to rebuild MI6’s network inside Russia, who would soon be closing her doors to foreigners. He was to travel alone and would be expected to create his own network of couriers to smuggle out his reports.
Dukes returned to Britain a hero and was knighted by King George V. He was one of the first westerners to introduce yoga, wrote accessible books on the topic, and even did a series of specials for the BBC.
Please do listen to this short 10 minute clip of Sir Paul Dukes, you’ll be delighted.