Sir Rex Hunt, who was governor of the Falkland Islands during the 1982 Argentine invasion, has died at the age of 86.
He will be remembered for his "courage and dignity", the Falkland Islands government said.
The Yorkshireman took up his post in 1980 and was ousted as governor of the British overseas territory by invading Argentinian forces on April 2 1982.
After refusing a plan to hide in the hills and outnumbered after a fierce gun battle, Sir Rex took the painful decision to surrender.
But he made one final act of defiance when, dressed in full gubernatorial uniform, he refused to shake invading commander General Oswald Garcia's hand.
The islands were recaptured by British forces on June 14 that year after then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher deployed a naval taskforce to the South Atlantic ocean.
During the weeks of the war, Sir Rex stayed in London while his wife and son were in a house in Kent.
The Falkland Islands government said in a statement: "We received news of the passing of Sir Rex Hunt with great sadness.
"Sir Rex will forever be remembered in the islands for his years of service as governor, and particularly for his courage and dignity in facing the Argentine invasion in 1982.
In a 2007 interview, Sir Rex said his first thoughts on the liberation day were for the soldiers.
He said: "I was thinking of what had happened at Government House in April.
"To see all those people, hundreds of them, throwing their guns away with no attempt to fight, it just made me think 'Well thank goodness, we've got people like our army'."
Sir Rex was also full of praise for Mrs Thatcher and agonised over the decision to surrender.
He said: "My big anxiety was, have we done enough to get the majority of the Great British people to support us and support the islanders?
"I didn't know Maggie Thatcher then, if I did know her I would not have been so worried about doing enough damage to the invaders."
He went on: "I had been told that there was no possible way of getting the Argentinians out of the Falklands if they had got there first.
"It was certainly Margaret Thatcher and Admiral (Henry) Leach who changed the attitude of the rest of them altogether.
"He said we could have it (the Task Force) ready by Sunday and that was just what Maggie Thatcher wanted to hear.
"Thank goodness we had a decent person in charge, she got it going."
Looking back, Sir Rex was convinced the war was worth it.
"The first thing I said to people, giving speeches here (in the UK), was that it was worth it and I have never had a word back from any of the people who went there - no matter how badly injured - who said it wasn't worth it - not one."
The debate over control of the islands was reignited this year with the 30th anniversary of the war.
Three decades after Mrs Thatcher sent 27,000 troops and more than 100 ships to expel Argentinian invaders, Buenos Aires continues to set its sights on claiming the territory it calls Las Malvinas.
But the local government hopes a referendum next year on the future sovereignty of the archipelago will send a firm message to Argentina that islanders want to remain British.
The Falkland Islands, a rocky archipelago in the south Atlantic, are 7,780 miles from the UK and 1,140 miles from Buenos Aires.
They have been under British control since 1833 - apart from the brief but bitter 74 days of occupation in 1982.
Just over half of their population of 3,000 people are on the electoral roll and are expected to take part in the vote.
It will be the first referendum held on the islands, but in a poll in the mid-1980s, 94.5% of those who took part supported staying British.
Foreign Secretary William Hague paid tribute to Sir Rex, saying he showed "great courage and fortitude" during the Argentine invasion.
Mr Hague said: "As governor of the Falkland Islands he served his country and the Falkland Islanders with great distinction.
"Like the Islanders themselves, he demonstrated great courage and fortitude in the face of Argentine aggression during the Falklands conflict.
"His contribution will not be forgotten."