Anthony Eden

British soldier, diplomat and politician (1897–1977)

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon KG MC PC (12 June 1897–14 January 1977) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was better known throughout his time in office as Sir Anthony Eden. He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

The Earl of Sussex

Photograph, 1941–1942
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
6 April 1955 – 9 January 1957
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded bySir Winston Churchill
Succeeded byHarold Macmillan
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
26 October 1951 – 6 April 1955
Prime MinisterSir Winston Churchill
Preceded byHerbert Morrison
Succeeded byRab Butler (1962)[nb]
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
6 April 1955 – 10 January 1957
Preceded bySir Winston Churchill
Succeeded byHarold Macmillan
Personal details
Robert Anthony Eden

(1897-06-12)12 June 1897
Windlestone Hall, County Durham, England
Died14 January 1977(1977-01-14) (aged 79)
Alvediston, Wiltshire, England
Political partyConservative
Children3, including Nicholas
EducationEton College
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford
Military service
Branch/service British Army
Years of service
  • 1915–1919
  • 1920–1923
  • 1939 (as Territorial)
AwardsMilitary Cross
Ministerial offices
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
28 October 1951 – 6 April 1955
Prime MinisterSir Winston Churchill
Preceded byHerbert Morrison
Succeeded byHarold Macmillan
In office
22 December 1940 – 26 July 1945
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byThe Viscount Halifax
Succeeded byErnest Bevin
In office
22 December 1935 – 20 February 1938
Prime Minister
Preceded bySir Samuel Hoare
Succeeded byThe Viscount Halifax
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
22 November 1942 – 26 July 1945
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded bySir Stafford Cripps
Succeeded byHerbert Morrison
Secretary of State for War
In office
11 May 1940 – 22 December 1940
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byOliver Stanley
Succeeded byDavid Margesson
Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
In office
3 September 1939 – 14 May 1940
Prime Minister
Preceded bySir Thomas Inskip
Succeeded byThe Viscount Caldecote
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
31 December 1933 – 7 June 1935
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byStanley Baldwin
Succeeded byThe Marquess of Londonderry
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
3 September 1931 – 18 January 1934
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byHugh Dalton
Succeeded byThe Earl Stanhope
Parliamentary offices
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
12 July 1961 – 14 January 1977
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byEarldom created
Succeeded byThe 2nd Earl of Avon
Member of Parliament
for Warwick and Leamington
In office
6 December 1923 – 10 January 1957
Preceded byErnest Pollock
Succeeded byJohn Hobson
n.b. ^ Office not filled until 13 July 1962

Eden was one of the best-known politicians of his generation. He was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1935 by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and resigned in 1938 in protest at Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler. He was Churchill's Foreign Secretary during World War II, and again in 1951–1955.

He had an operation to remove gallstones in 1953. The operation went wrong, and his health was ruined. He became Prime Minister in 1955 when Winston Churchill retired. He resigned as Prime Minister in 1957, and Harold Macmillan replaced him. The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a critical period. This and his health led up to his resignation as Prime Minister. Eden died of liver cancer, aged 79. His widow, Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon, was born in 1920 and died in 2021. She was a niece of Winston Churchill.[1]

Eden's life can be described in two halves. The first half, in the 1930s and in wartime, was brilliant. But he is often ranked among the least successful British Prime Ministers of the 20th century.[2][3] Two broadly sympathetic biographies (in 1986 and 2003) have gone some way to redressing the balance of opinion.[4][5] D.R. Thorpe says the Suez Crisis "was a truly tragic end to his premiership, and one that came to assume a disproportionate importance in any assessment of his career".[5]

Biography change

Born into an aristocratic family.[6][7]

He volunteered for the British army at the beginning of the First World War, participated in the fighting in France.

In 1919—1922 he was a student at the Faculty of Oriental Languages at Oxford, graduating with honors.

From 1945 to 1973 he served as rector of the University of Birmingham.

In 1961, he received the title of count.

Eden had three sons. The elder and middle sons died before him. His Earl of Avon title was inherited by the younger son, Nicholas. When Nicholas died, the title became extinct.

Political career change

Member of the House of Commons from 1923 to 1957.

From 1935 to 1938 (Baldwin's cabinet) Minister of Foreign Affairs. He resigned as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chamberlain's cabinet on February 20, 1938, due to disagreement with the Prime Minister's policy of "appeasement" towards Italy and Germany.

He served as Foreign Minister in Churchill's military government (1940—1945), was considered Churchill's successor, but distinguished himself primarily as Foreign Minister in the war. Leader of the House of Commons from 1942 to 1945.

After Labor's election victory in July 1945, he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

From 1951 to 1955 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.

After Churchill's resignation in 1955, he was appointed prime minister. His premiership turned out to be short-lived and unsuccessful, both from a foreign policy point of view (the Suez crisis of 1956, which ended catastrophically for Great Britain), and from a domestic political point of view (he had to resign after mass protests by the population and cede leadership in the party to Macmillan).

References change

  1. Eden, Clarissa 2007. A memoir: from Churchill to Eden.
  2. Rating British Prime Ministers Archived 2006-03-28 at the Wayback Machine 29 November 2004
  3. Churchill 'greatest PM of 20th Century' 4 January 2000
  4. James, Robert Rhodes. 1986. Anthony Eden: a biography.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Thorpe D.R. 2003. Eden: the life and times of Anthony Eden, first Earl of Avon, 1897–1977. London: Chatto and Windus. ISBN 0-7126-6505-6
  6. Aster 1976, p. 2.
  7. Rhodes James 1986, pp. 9–14.