Premiers to have served the Queen

The fact that the Queen's 12th Prime Minister, David Cameron, was born almost 100 years after her first, Winston Churchill, shows what a rich pageant of history she has presided over.

Sir Winston, born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, was a towering elder statesman of 77 when the 25-year-old Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952.

With Sir Winston finally bowing out as Prime Minister in 1955, the Queen saw 10 more premiers come and go before Mr Cameron, born in October 1966, took over the role.

The previous 11 Prime Ministers of the Queen's reign were:

Winston Churchill, 1952-55: Arguably Britain's greatest prime minister who stood defiant while Britain fought alone in the dark days of 1940 during the World War II.

Having been dumped by the electorate in the Labour landslide of 1945, Mr Churchill regained power in 1951 and guided the young Queen through the early days of her reign. He died at the age of 90 in 1965;

Anthony Eden, 1955-57: Having endured years of waiting to get the number one job, Eden's short reign was ruined by the 1956 Suez crisis. He resigned in 1957. Later created Earl of Avon, he died in 1977;

Harold Macmillan, 1957-63: Presided over the late 1950s "you've never had it so good" consumer boom and attacked apartheid in his famous "wind of change" speech.

Ran into severe difficulties in the early 1960s, at one point sacking around a third of his Cabinet. Weighed down by the Profumo scandal and ill health, he resigned in 1963. Created Earl of Stockton, he died aged 92 in 1986;

Alec Douglas-Home, 1963-64: Had to give up his peerage and fight a by-election to take over as Prime Minister from Mr Macmillan. Home only lasted a year, as the Conservatives lost the 1964 general election, but far more narrowly than was expected.

He returned as foreign secretary in the 1970s. The first prime minister to be born in the 20th century, Home died aged 92 in 1995;

Harold Wilson, 1964-70 and 1974-76: Yorkshire-born Mr Wilson was the Queen's first Labour premier. After securing a tiny majority in 1964 he won far more comfortably in the 1966 general election. Financial difficulties bogged down his government in the late 1960s but it was still a surprise when Labour lost the 1970 election.

Mr Wilson was back in power after the inconclusive February 1974 general election, leading a minority government. Another election in October 1974 gave Mr Wilson a small majority. It was a huge shock when he resigned in March 1976. Created Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, he died aged 79 in 1995;

Edward Heath, 1970-74: The unlikely victor of the 1970 election, Heath faced a difficult time during his premiership, with strikes and financial problems abounding. Taking on the miners, he went to the country in February 1974 on a "Who Governs Britain?" platform only for the voters to reject the Tories.

Handing over the Conservative leadership to Margaret Thatcher, Mr Heath became the number one critic of the "Iron Lady" and was dubbed the "Incredible Sulk". Having spent 50 years as an MP, Heath died aged 89 in 2005;

James Callaghan, 1976-79: His troubled reign was beset by economic woes. He had to be propped up by the Liberals in the Lib-Lab pact and when the imposition of a third year of public sector wage restraint collapsed, Callaghan and the country had to endure the 1978-79 "winter of discontent".

Mr Callaghan eventually lost a Commons confidence vote, went to the country and was beaten by the Thatcher-led Tories. Created Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, he died aged 92 in 1995;

Margaret Thatcher, 1979-90: The Queen's first female Prime Minister, Thatcher swept to three successive election victories, with the second - in 1983 - owing much to the euphoria created by the victory in the 1982 Falklands War.

A hard-line approach to ailing industries and unions was not to everyone's taste, but it was enough to secure another big win at the polls in 1987 before concerns over the Poll Tax and unease among her colleagues led to a leadership challenge in 1990 which she lost.

Created a baroness, Mrs Thatcher, at 84, is the oldest living member of the ex-prime ministers' "club";

John Major, 1990-97: The unexpected victor of the "coup" against Mrs Thatcher, Mr Major confounded the pollsters by winning the 1992 general election. That was the high point of his premiership with the autumn 1992 financial crisis the starting point for a whole raft of difficulties.

Embroiled in "sleaze" and with the country eager for change after 18 years of Conservative rule, the Major Administration hung on until 1997 when the Conservatives were humiliated at the polls.

Major promptly resigned as Tory leader, taking his family down to The Oval in London to watch cricket on the day after his election defeat. The first of the Queen's Premiers to be younger than her, Major, who was later knighted, is now 67;

Tony Blair, 1997-2007: Mr Blair, now 57, came into power amid a wave of popularity that no incoming administration had known for many years. With an opposition in seeming disarray, he was able to lead Labour to two landslide victories and also secured a comfortable majority in the 2005 election.

His handling of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to some criticism and his latter years were also blighted by constant power battles with his Chancellor Gordon Brown. Eventually, Mr Blair stepped down allowing Mr Brown to take over in 2007;

Gordon Brown, 2007-2010: The 59-year-old joins Mr Eden, Mr Home and Mr Callaghan (and technically Mr Cameron) as Prime Ministers of the present Queen who never won an election. Mr Brown will always wonder what might have been had he gone to the country, as everyone expected him to do, in October 2007.

By deciding against an election, he had to ride out the worst recession for decades as well as repeated hints of leadership challenges and backbench grumbling. All in all, he did remarkably well to preserve as much of the Labour vote in last week's poll as he did.


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