Anthony Eden

Orfeas Katsoulis | Jun 15, 2023

Table of Content


Robert Anthony Eden, I Earl of Avon (Durham, June 12, 1897-Alvediston, Wiltshire, January 14, 1977), was a British politician, member of the Conservative Party, who served as prime minister between 1955 and 1957 after the resignation of his mentor, Winston Churchill. He was also Foreign Secretary on three occasions (1935-1938, 1940-1945 and 1951-1955).

Educated at Eton and Oxford, he was a member of the Conservative Party, for which he was a member of parliament from 1923. Parliamentary Secretary to Austen Chamberlain, he became one of his closest collaborators in the Foreign Office. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1931-33) and Lord Privy Seal (1934), he then assumed the portfolio of Relations with the League of Nations. Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 1935 and 1938, he revealed himself as an open enemy of the policy of appeasement towards Germany, which led him to resign from his post.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he became Churchill's deputy and held the posts of Minister for the Colonies, Minister of War and Secretary of the Foreign Office (1939-45). With the Conservative triumph of 1951 he returned to the Foreign Office and played a brilliant international role, especially at the London and Geneva conferences.

Appointed prime minister in 1955 after Winston Churchill's resignation from office, his support for the Franco-British intervention in Egypt in 1956 caused him to lose prestige, resigning in January 1957 and retiring to write his memoirs. This failed intervention has always been pointed out as one of the symbols and the beginning of British weakness after World War II.

Eden was born in 1897 at Windlestone Hall, a country residence in County Durham, northern England, into a conservative family of the landed gentry. He was the third of four children of Sir William Eden, seventh and fifth baronet, former colonel and local magistrate. Sir William was an eccentric man, of bad temper and character, but with a taste for painting, being a talented watercolorist, portraitist and collector of impressionist works.

Eden's mother, Sybil Frances Gray, was a member of the prominent Gray family of Northumberland, and had wanted to marry Francis Knollys, who later became an important royal advisor, but the then Prince of Wales forbade such a marriage. She had wanted to marry Francis Knollys, who later became an important royal advisor, but the then Prince of Wales forbade such a marriage. Although she was a popular figure locally, she had a strained relationship with her children and her profligacy ruined the family fortune. Eden's older brother Tim had to sell Windlestone in 1936. Rab Butler would later joke that Eden, a handsome but ill-tempered man, was "half mad baronet, half beautiful woman."

His great-grandfather was William Iremonger, who commanded the 2nd Infantry Regiment during the War of Spanish Independence, fighting under Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Vimeiro. He was also a descendant of Governor Sir Robert Eden, first baronet of Maryland and, through the Calvert family of Maryland, was related to the old Catholic aristocracy of Arundell and Howard. He was also a descendant of the Schaffalitzky family of Muckadell of Denmark and the Bie family of Norway.

For many years there was speculation that Eden's biological father was the politician and man of letters George Wyndham, but such a claim was impossible, as Wyndham was in the South African territories at the time of Eden's conception. While the hypothesis that he was the father was ruled out, rumors of a possible love affair between Eden's mother and him persisted; the two exchanged affectionate communications in 1896, but Wyndham was an infrequent visitor to Windlestone and probably did not reciprocate Sybil's feelings. Eden was amused by the rumors, but according to his biographer Rhodes James, he probably did not believe them. He did not look like his brothers, but his father, Sir William, attributed this to his being "a Grey, not an Eden."

Eden had an older brother, John, who was killed in action in October 1914, in the early stages of World War I, and a younger brother, Nicholas, who died when the battle cruiser HMS Indefatigable on which he served exploded and sank in the course of the Battle of Jutland in 1916.


He attended Sandroyd School in Cobham from 1907 to 1910, where he excelled in languages. He then transferred to Eton College in January 1911. There, he won a Divinity award and excelled in cricket, rugby and rowing, winning the House colors in the latter.

He learned French and German on continental vacations and, as a child, was said to speak French better than English. Although Eden was able to converse with Adolf Hitler in German in February 1934 and with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in French in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1954, he preferred, out of a sense of professionalism, to have interpreters translate at formal meetings.

Although Eden later claimed to have had no interest in politics until the early 1920s, his teenage letters and diaries show that he was obsessed with the subject. He was a strong, partisan Conservative, who rejoiced at Charles Masterman's defeat in a by-election in May 1913 and once astonished his mother on a train journey by telling her the MP and the size of his majority for each constituency they passed through. By 1914 he was a member of the Eton Society.

World War I

During the Great War, Eden's older brother, Lieutenant John Eden, was killed in action on October 17, 1914, at the age of twenty-six, while serving with the Twelfth Royal Lancers. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. His uncle Robin, a combat aviator, was later shot down and captured while serving with the Royal Flying Corps.

Volunteering for service in the British Army, like many others of his generation, Eden served in the Twenty-first Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, a unit of Kitchener's Army, initially recruited mainly from among County Durham labourers, who were increasingly replaced by Londoners after losses on the Somme in mid-1916. He became a temporary second lieutenant on 2 November 1915. His battalion transferred to the Western Front on 4 May 1916 as part of the 41st Division. On 31 May 1916, Eden's younger brother, 16-year-old Midshipman William Nicholas Eden, died aboard HMS Indefatigable during the Battle of Jutland. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. His brother-in-law, Lord Brooke, was also wounded during the war.

One summer night in 1916, near Ploegsteert, a Belgian village near Comines-Warneton, Eden had to lead a small raid into a trench to kill or capture enemy soldiers to identify those units. He and his men were pinned down in no man's land under enemy fire, his sergeant being severely wounded in the leg. Eden sent a man back to the British lines to fetch another man and a stretcher, and he and three others carried the wounded sergeant back with, as he later recounted in his memoirs, a "cold feeling in the spine," not knowing whether the Germans had not seen them in the dark or were cavalierly refusing to fire. He neglected to mention that he had been decorated with the Military Cross (MC) for his act, of which he made little mention in his political career. On September 18, 1916, after the battle of Flers-Courcelette (within the Somme campaign), he wrote to his mother, "I have seen things lately that I shall probably never forget." On October 3, he was appointed adjutant with the rank of temporary lieutenant. At nineteen, he was the youngest adjutant on the Western Front.

His battalion fought at Messines Ridge in June 1917. On 1 July 1917, Eden was promoted to temporary lieutenant, relinquishing his adjutant appointment three days later. He also participated in the first days of the Third Battle of Ypres (between 31 July and 4 August). Between 20 and 23 September 1917, his battalion spent a few days conducting coastal defense actions on the Franco-Belgian border.

On 19 November, Eden was transferred to the General Staff as a Grade 3 Officer (GSO3), with the temporary rank of Captain. He served at Second Army headquarters between mid-November 1917 and 8 March 1918, losing service in Italy (as the 41st Division had been moved there after the Italian Second Army was defeated at the Battle of Caporetto). Eden returned to the Western Front when a major German offensive was imminent; there his battalion was disbanded and his men distributed among other units to mitigate the British Army's acute manpower shortage. Although then Prime Minister David Lloyd George was one of the few politicians Eden reported that front-line soldiers spoke highly of, he wrote to his sister (on December 23, 1917) disgusted at her "foolishness" in refusing to extend compulsory military service to Ireland.

In March 1918, during the German spring offensive, he was stationed near La Fère, opposite Adolf Hitler, as he learned in a lecture in 1935.At one point, when the brigade headquarters was bombed by German planes, his comrade told him, "There you have had your first experience of the coming war. "On May 26, 1918, he was promoted to brigade major of the 198th Infantry Brigade, part of the 66th Division. On May 26, 1918, he was promoted to brigade major of the 198th Infantry Brigade, part of the 66th Division.At the age of twenty, Eden was the youngest brigade major in the British Army.

He considered running for Parliament at the end of the war, but the general election was called too soon for that to be possible. After the armistice with Germany, he spent the winter of 1918-1919 in the Ardennes with his brigade. On March 28, 1919, he was transferred to be brigade major of the 99th Infantry Brigade. Eden weighed the possibility of applying for a position in the Regular Army, but it was very difficult to get with the army contracting so rapidly. He initially rejected his mother's suggestion to study at Oxford. He also rejected the idea of becoming a lawyer. His preferred career alternatives at this stage were to run for Parliament for Bishop Auckland, apply to the Civil Service in East Africa or to the Foreign Office. Demobilized on June 13, 1919, he retained the rank of Captain.

University stage at Oxford

Eden had dabbled in the study of Turkish with a family friend. After the war, he studied Oriental languages (Persian and Arabic) at Christ Church (Oxford), beginning in October 1919. Persian was his primary language and Arabic his secondary language. He studied with Richard Paset Dewhurst and David Samuel Margoliouth.

At Oxford, Eden did not participate in student politics, his main leisure interest being art, becoming a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society and president of the Asiatic Society. Together with David Cecil and Gathorne-Hardy, he founded the Uffizi Society, of which he later became president. Possibly under the influence of his father, he presented a study on Paul Cézanne, whose work was not yet highly appreciated. By that time, following in his father's footsteps as well, he began collecting paintings.

He was recalled to military service as a lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in July 1920, while still a student. In the spring of 1921, again as a temporary captain, he commanded the local defense forces at Spennymoor, where riots were expected given the severe industrial unrest in the area. He resigned his commission again on July 8. He graduated from Oxford in June 1922 with honors(double first). He continued to serve as an officer in the Territorial Army until May 1923.

Eden, still active in politics, and with dreams of becoming an MP, began his career in the election for the seat of Spennymoor, within the ranks of the Conservative Party. Initially, he had hoped to win with some Liberal support, as the Conservatives continued to support Lloyd George's coalition government, but by the time of the November 1922 general election, it was clear that the increase in the Labour vote made this unlikely. His main backer was the Marquess of Londonderry, a local coal owner. The seat he was bidding for passed from the Liberals to Labour.

Eden's father had died on February 20, 1915. As the youngest of his children, he had inherited a capital of 7675 pounds sterling at the time, and in 1922 he had a private income of 706 pounds after tax settlement (which equaled, in 2014 ratios, sums of 375 000 and 35 000 pounds sterling, respectively).

Eden read the writings of Lord Curzon and hoped to emulate him by entering politics with a view to specializing in foreign affairs.Eden married Beatrice Beckett in the autumn of 1923, and after a two-day honeymoon in Essex, he was selected for the by-election in Warwick and Leamington in November 1923, his Labour opponent being Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick.On November 16, 1923, during the by-election campaign, Parliament was dissolved for the general election in December 1923.On November 16, 1923, during the campaign for the by-election, Parliament was dissolved for the general election in December 1923. On November 16, 1923, during the by-election campaign, Parliament was dissolved for the December 1923 general election. After this election he finally won his seat in Parliament, at the age of twenty-six.

The first Labour government, headed by Ramsay MacDonald, took office in January 1924. Eden's inaugural speech (the interruptions he suffered caused him to think again, watch his tone and prepare his next speeches more carefully. He later reprinted the speech in the collection Foreign Affairs (1939) to give the impression that he had been a strong advocate of air power. Eden admired Herbert Henry Asquith, who was then in his last year as an MP in the House of Commons, for his lucidity and brevity. On April 1, 1924, he spoke to urge Anglo-Turkish friendship and ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne, which had been signed in July 1923.

MacDonald's cabinet barely had time to forge the legislature, as new elections at the end of the year brought the Conservatives, again with Stanley Baldwin, back to the Executive. In January 1925, Eden, disappointed after not being offered a position, toured the Middle East and met Emir Faisal of Iraq, who assured him that the fate of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and his "may be similar" (in relation to the following events that befell the Iraqi royal family in 1958). During his stay, he inspected the oil refinery in Abadan (present-day Iran), which he compared to "a small-scale Swansea".

He was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Godfrey Locker-Lampson, undersecretary of the Home Office (February 17, 1925), under the incumbent William Joynson Hicks.

In July 1925, he made a second trip to Canada, Australia and India. He wrote articles for The Yorkshire Post, controlled by his father-in-law Sir Gervase Beckett, under the pseudonym "Backbencher." In September 1925, he represented The Yorkshire Post at the Imperial Conference in Melbourne.

Eden continued as Locker-Lampson's secretary when the latter was appointed Under Secretary to the Foreign Office in December 1925. He distinguished himself with a speech on the Near East (December 21, 1925), in which he called for the readjustment of Iraqi borders in favor of Turkey, but also for a continued British mandate, rather than a "sinking". Eden ended his speech by again advocating Anglo-Turkish friendship. On March 23, 1926, he spoke to urge the League of Nations to admit Germany, which would happen the following year. In July 1926 he became personal secretary to Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary. With Chamberlain absent for health reasons, Eden had to speak on behalf of the Government in a debate in Parliament on a recent Anglo-French naval agreement, in response to a question from former Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, again leader of the opposition. According to Austen Chamberlain, he would have been promoted to his first ministerial post, Under Secretary to the Foreign Office, had the Conservatives won the 1929 election.

The 1929 general election was the only time Eden received less than 50% of the vote in Warwick. After the Conservative defeat, he joined a progressive group of younger politicians consisting of Oliver Stanley, William Ormsby-Gore and future speaker William Morrison. Another member was Noel Skelton, who before his death had coined the phrase "proprietary democracy," which Eden would later popularize as an aspiration of the Conservative Party. Eden advocated joint partnership in industry between managers and workers, who he wanted to be given shares.

In opposition between 1929 and 1931, Eden worked as a municipal broker for Harry Lucas, a firm that was eventually absorbed by S. G. Warburg & Co. an investment bank in the metropolis.

In August 1931, Eden took up his first ministerial post as Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government. Initially his post was held by Lord Reading (in the House of Lords), but Sir John Simon replaced him in November 1931.

Like many of his generation who had served in World War I, Eden was strongly against the war and endeavored to work within the League of Nations to preserve European peace. The government proposed measures to replace the postwar Treaty of Versailles to allow Germany to rearm (although replacing its small professional army with a short-service militia) and to reduce French armaments. Winston Churchill sharply criticized the policy in the House of Commons on March 23, 1933, opposing "undue" French disarmament, as this might require the United Kingdom to take steps to enforce peace under the 1925 Locarno Treaties. Eden, responding for the government, called Churchill's speech exaggerated and unconstructive, commented that land disarmament had not yet achieved the same progress as naval disarmament embodied in the Washington and London Treaties, and argued that French disarmament was necessary to "secure for Europe that period of appeasement which is needed." Eden's speech was well received in the House of Commons. Neville Chamberlain commented shortly thereafter that Eden was "moving fast; not only can he make a good speech, but he has a good head, and the advice he gives is listened to by the Cabinet." Eden later wrote that, in the early 1930s, the word "appeasement" was still used in a proper sense to try to resolve conflicts. Only later in the decade would it come to acquire a pejorative meaning of giving in to intimidation.

He was appointed lord of the Privy Seal in December 1933, a post he combined with the newly created office of minister for League of Nations Affairs. As lord of the Privy Seal, Eden took possession of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom during the 1934 celebration and honors for the birthday of George V of the United Kingdom. On March 25, 1935, accompanying Sir John Simon, Eden met with Hitler in Berlin and lodged a weak protest after he restored compulsory military service against the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. That same month, Eden also met with Stalin and Litvinov in Moscow.

He rose through the ranks by joining Stanley Baldwin's cabinet after the formation of his third government in June 1935. Eden later came to recognize that peace could not be maintained by appeasing Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He privately opposed Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare's policy of trying to appease Italy during its invasion of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935. Eden succeeded him as secretary after Hoare resigned following the failure of the Hoare-Laval Pact.

In 1935, Baldwin sent Eden on a two-day visit to see Hitler, with whom he dined twice. Litvinov's biographer, John Holroyd-Doveton, believed that Eden shared with Molotov the experience of being the only people who had dined with Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, although not on the same occasion. Hitler never dined with any of the other three leaders and, as far as is known, Stalin never saw Hitler in person.

Attlee was convinced that public opinion could stop Hitler, saying in a speech in the House of Commons that one should believe "in a league system in which the whole world would be aligned against an aggressor. If anyone is shown to be intent on breaking the peace, let us turn world opinion against him."

However, Eden, more realistic, went so far as to predict that Hitler had to be stopped. "It may be that the only possible action is to join with the powers that are members of the Society in affirming our faith in that institution and defending the principles of the Covenant. The great powers must reiterate their intentions to collaborate more closely than ever. It is not only the only means of imposing sanity upon Germany, but the inevitable effect of her persisting in her present policy will be to consolidate against her all those nations which believe in collectivity and security, but it will also tend to give confidence to less powerful nations which, fearing Germany's growing strength, may well be drawn into her orbit."

Eden went to Moscow for talks with Stalin and Soviet Minister Litvinov. Most of the British cabinet feared the spread of Bolshevism to the U.K. and hated the Soviets, but Eden went with an open mind and respected Stalin. About him, he would go so far as to comment of his personality that "he had good natural manners, perhaps a Georgian heritage. Although I knew the man had no mercy, I respected the quality of his mind and even felt a sympathy that I have never been able to analyze. Perhaps it was the pragmatic approach. I cannot believe that he had any affinity with Marx. Certainly no one could have been less doctrinaire."

Eden was sure that most of his colleagues would not be enthusiastic about any favorable report on the Soviet Union, but he was certain that he was correct. Representatives of both governments were pleased to note that, as a result of a full and frank exchange of views, there was no conflict of interest between them on any of the major issues of international policy, thus providing a firm basis between them in the cause of peace. Eden stated that when he sent the communiqué to his government, he thought his colleagues would be unenthusiastic. Author John Holroyd-Doveton would later argue that Eden was right to defend the league with the USSR: unlike France, whose army was defeated by the German army and which violated its treaty of alliance with the United Kingdom by requesting an armistice from Germany, the Red Army ultimately ended up winning the war when its troops took Berlin in 1945.

Eden became Foreign Secretary at a time when Britain had to readjust its international policy and maneuvering in the face of the rise of the fascist powers. He supported the policy of non-interference in the Spanish Civil War through conferences such as Nyon, supporting Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in his efforts to maintain peace through reasonable concessions to Germany. War between Italy and Ethiopia was brewing and Eden tried in vain to persuade Benito Mussolini to submit the territorial dispute to the League of Nations. The Italian dictator publicly taunted Eden by calling him "the best-dressed fool in Europe." Eden did not protest when the United Kingdom and France failed to oppose Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936. When the French requested a meeting with a view to some kind of military action in response to the German occupation, Eden's statement firmly ruled out any military aid to France.

Eden resigned on February 20, 1938 in public protest against Chamberlain's policy of reaching an amicable agreement with Italy. Eden used secret espionage reports to conclude that the Mussolini regime in Italy posed a threat to the United Kingdom.

By this time, Eden did not yet intend to oppose the appeasement of Nazi Germany. He became a Conservative dissident, leading a group that party disciplinary officer David Margesson called the "Glamour Boys". Meanwhile, anti-Tory leader Winston Churchill headed another similar group called "The Old Guard." They were not yet allies and would not meet face to face until Churchill became prime minister in 1940. There was much speculation about Eden being the center on which all of Chamberlain's disparate opponents converged, but his position declined considerably among politicians, as he kept a low profile and avoided confrontation; hence, while he opposed the Munich agreements, he abstained on the relevant vote in the House of Commons. However, he remained popular in the country at large and, in later years, it was often wrongly assumed that he had resigned as Foreign Secretary in protest at such an Agreement and appeasement in general. In a 1967 interview, Eden explained his decision to resign: "We had an agreement with Mussolini on the Mediterranean and Spain, which he was violating by sending troops to Spain, and Chamberlain wanted to have another agreement. I thought Mussolini should honor the first one before negotiating the second. I was trying to fight a delaying action by the United Kingdom and I could not accept Chamberlain's policy."

During the last months of peace in 1939, before the arrival of September, Eden joined the British Reserve Army with the rank of major serving with the London Rangers motorized battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was with that corps in a camp at Beaulieu (Hampshire), when he heard the news of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, signed on August 23, 1939, by which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed an agreement of mutual non-aggression that hid the subsequent division of the territory of Poland that would be divided at the end of the war.

At the outbreak of war on September 3, 1939, Eden, unlike many of the reservists, was not mobilized for active service. Instead, he returned to political work in the Chamberlain government as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs; in this capacity, he visited the British Mandate of Palestine in February 1940 to inspect the troops of the Second Australian Imperial Force. However, he was not called for debate nor did he participate in the government's War Cabinet discussions. As a result, he was not nominated as a candidate for prime minister when Chamberlain resigned in May 1940 after the Narvik debate; Winston Churchill filled the post, and, this time, appointed Eden secretary of state for war.

In late 1940, Eden returned to the Foreign Office and joined the executive committee of the Political Warfare Executive in 1941. Although he was one of Churchill's closest collaborators, his wartime role was rather restricted because Churchill himself overshadowed the other characters directing the major actions of that period as well as the meetings and negotiations, especially with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, although Eden served him loyally. In December 1941, he traveled by ship to Russia and examined the battlefields where the Soviets had successfully defended Moscow from attack by the German army in Operation Barbarossa.

Despite being relegated from the main events in British politics, he was in charge of handling most of the relations between the United Kingdom and the Free French leader, Charles de Gaulle, during the last years of the war. Eden was often critical of Churchill's emphasis on the special relationship with the United States and was disappointed by the latter's treatment of its British allies.

In 1942, Eden was given the additional role of leader of the House of Commons; he was considered for several other important jobs during and after the war, including chief general of the Near East in 1942 (a highly unusual appointment as Eden was a civilian, and one that would eventually go to Harold Alexander), viceroy of India in 1943 (General Archibald Wavell would be appointed) or as secretary general of the newly formed United Nations Organization in 1945. In 1943, with the revelation of the Katyn massacre, Eden refused to help the Polish government in exile. He supported the idea of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.

In early 1943, Eden blocked a request by Bulgarian authorities to help deport part of the Jewish population to the territories of Palestine under British control. After his refusal, some people were transported to the Treblinka extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

In 1944, Eden returned to Moscow to negotiate with the Soviet Union at the Tolstoy Conference, where he rejected the Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize Germany. After the murders at the Stalag Luft III concentration camp, where Allied troops captured by the Nazis were held, he pledged in the House of Commons to subject the perpetrators to "exemplary justice"; the postwar pursuit of the perpetrators by the British Royal Air Force and its investigative department led to their apprehension.

Eden's eldest son, pilot and officer Simon Gascoigne Eden, went missing in action and was declared dead; he was serving in the Royal Air Force in Burma in June 1945. His death had a profound impact on his parents. Anthony's wife reportedly reacted to the loss of their son differently, which caused a rift in the marriage. De Gaulle wrote her a personal letter of condolence in French.

In the opposition (1945-1951)

After Labour's victory in the 1945 election and the appointment of Clement Attlee as prime minister, Eden went into political opposition as deputy leader of the Conservative Party. Many felt that Churchill should have retired from active politics and give way to young promises of the party; Eden was one of the favorites to succeed him at the head of the formation, something that Churchill refused to consider, remaining steadfast in the idea that he was the image of conservatism, thanks to his past performance as prime minister during the toughest moments of World War II (Dunkirk crisis, Battle of Britain, the Blitz or the Normandy landings). As early as the spring of 1946, Eden openly asked Churchill to step down and relinquish the post to him. In any case, he was depressed at the end of his first marriage and because of the death of his eldest son. Churchill was, in many ways, only "part-time leader of the opposition" because of his many trips abroad and his literary work; he left much of the day-to-day work to Eden, who was largely seen as an element of the urbane, postwar modern man's mentality. In the opposition years, however, he developed some knowledge of domestic affairs and created the idea of a "propertied democracy," which Margaret Thatcher's government tried to achieve decades later. His domestic policy program was generally considered center-left.

Churchill Government (1951-1955)

Although Labour revalidated its victory in the February 1950 election, the Attlee government quickly lost steam: several of its most important ministers were ill or aged and new ideas were lacking. The implementation of austerity measures in social affairs by Chancellor Hugh Gaitskell in order to pay for British participation in the Korean War led to a cabinet crisis and the resignation of Aneurin Bevan as Health Secretary, who believed that his budget had been reduced to a minimum. Several colleagues also resigned. Faced with this increasingly ungovernable situation, the only alternative was to call an early election for October 1951, in the hope of achieving a more viable majority and regaining authority. The gamble failed: Labour lost by a narrow margin to the Conservative Party, despite winning considerably more votes (they won the largest number of votes in their history). Attlee resigned as Prime Minister the next day and Winston Churchill returned to 10 Downing Street.

Eden was integrated into Churchill's new executive as Secretary of State and, likewise, Deputy Prime Minister, although the King never officially appointed him to the latter post, as royal advisors felt that the position did not exist in the UK Constitution (Attlee's appointment during World War II is an exception) and that it might interfere with the monarch's prerogative to choose freely (in principle) the next Prime Minister. Churchill was largely a figurehead in government, and Eden had effective control of British foreign policy for the second time, at a time characterized by the decline of the empire and the intensification of the Cold War.

Eden's biographer, Richard Lamb, said that Eden bullied Churchill into backing out of commitments made on European unity. The United Kingdom was still a world power or at least trying to be one in the decade 1945-1955; the concept of sovereignty was not as discredited there as it was on the Continent. The United States encouraged moves toward European federalism so that it could withdraw troops and rearm the Germans under international supervision. Eden was less Atlanticist than Churchill and had no active, positive concept of European federalism. He wanted firm alliances with France and other Western European powers to contain Germany. Half of British trade was then with the sterling zone and only a quarter with Western Europe. Despite later talk of "missed opportunities," even Macmillan, who had been an active member of the European Movement after the war, recognized in February 1952 that the United Kingdom's special relationship with the United States and the Commonwealth would long prevent it from joining a federal Europe. Eden was also irritated by Churchill's yearning for a meeting or summit with the Soviet Union in 1953 after Stalin's death. Eden became seriously ill from a series of failed bile duct operations in April 1953 that nearly killed him. After that, he had frequent bouts of physical ill health and psychological depression.

Despite the end of the British Raj in India, British interest in the Middle East remained strong. The UK had treaties with Jordan and Iraq and was the protecting power in Kuwait and the Truce States, the colonial power in Aden and the occupying power in the Suez Canal. Many right-wing conservative MPs, organized in the so-called Suez Group, tried to maintain the imperial role, but economic pressures made it increasingly difficult. The UK tried to maintain its huge military base in the Suez Canal area and, in the face of Egyptian resentment, to further strengthen its alliance with Iraq; it hoped that the Americans would help it, perhaps financially. Although the Americans cooperated with the British to overthrow the government of Mohammad Mosaddeq in Iran after he nationalized British oil interests, the Americans developed their own relationships in the region, had a positive view of Egyptian free officers, and strengthened ties with Saudi Arabia. The United Kingdom was eventually forced to withdraw from the canal zone, and the Baghdad Pact security treaty was not supported by the United States, leaving Eden vulnerable to the charge of failing to maintain British prestige.

Eden had serious misgivings about the U.S. foreign policy of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and President Eisenhower. As early as March 1953, Eisenhower was concerned about rising defense costs and the increased state power it would bring. Eden was annoyed by Dulles' policy of "brinkmanship," or show of force, in relations with the communist world. In particular, the two had exchanged heated exchanges over the proposed U.S. air strike operation (Operation Vulture) to try to save the beleaguered French garrison at the battle of Ðiện Biên Phủ in early 1954. The operation was canceled, in part, because of Eden's refusal to commit to it for fear of Chinese intervention and, ultimately, a third world war. Dulles withdrew early in the Geneva Conference talks and criticized the U.S. decision not to sign the agreements reached. Nevertheless, the success of the meeting was touted by Eden himself as an outstanding achievement of his work at the helm of the Foreign Ministry. During the summer and fall of 1954, the Anglo-Egyptian agreement to withdraw all British forces from Egypt was also negotiated and ratified.

There was concern that if the European Defense Community project was not ratified as it was intended, the United States might withdraw to defend only the Western Hemisphere. Recent documentary evidence confirms that the United States intended to withdraw troops from Europe anyway, even if this community had been ratified. After the French National Assembly rejected the EDC in August 1954, Eden tried to find a viable alternative. Between September 11 and 17, he visited all the major capitals of Western Europe to negotiate for West Germany to become a sovereign state, entering the Brussels Pact before joining NATO. Paul-Henri Spaak said that Eden "saved the Atlantic alliance".

In October 1954 Queen Elizabeth II made him a member of the Order of the Garter, becoming Sir Anthony Eden.

Seeing his declining physical and intellectual capacity, Churchill retired from his position as prime minister in April 1955, which was taken over by Anthony Eden, who for many years had been his ambitious protégé. Three years earlier, Eden had married Churchill's niece, Anna Clarissa Churchill, this being his second marriage.

On taking office, he immediately called a general election for May 26, 1955, in which he increased the Conservative majority from seventeen to sixty, the largest lead a government had enjoyed over the opposition in ninety years. The 1955 general election was the last in which the Conservatives won a majority of votes in Scotland. However, Eden had never held a national portfolio and had little experience in economic affairs. These shortcomings meant that he delegated this branch to his lieutenants, such as Rab Butler, and concentrated mainly on foreign policy, forming a close relationship with President Eisenhower.

Eden has the distinction of being the British prime minister who had the lowest unemployment figures of the post-World War II era: just over 215,000 people, barely 1 % of the working population, in July 1955.

Suez Crisis

The alliance with the United States was neither full nor entirely positive, and suffered several setbacks, such as in July 1956, when Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal following the withdrawal of Anglo-American funds for the Aswan Dam. Eden believed that such nationalization violated the 1954 Anglo-Egyptian treaty that Nasser had signed with the British and French governments on October 19, 1954, a view shared by both the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell and the Liberal Jo Grimond. In 1956 the Suez Canal was of vital importance, as more than two-thirds of Western Europe's oil supplies passed through it (three-quarters of what passed through the Canal belonged to NATO countries. The total oil reserve of the United Kingdom at the time of nationalization was only equivalent to six weeks' consumption. The Soviet Union was prepared to veto any sanctions against Nasser at the United Nations. British representatives met in London with delegations from other nations after the nationalization in an attempt to resolve the crisis by diplomatic means. However, Nasser rejected overtures from eighteen countries, including an offer of Egyptian representation on the Suez Canal Company's board and a share of the profits. Eden feared that Nasser intended to form an Arab Alliance that would threaten to cut off oil supplies to Europe and, along with France, decided that he should be removed from power.

Eden, based on his experience in the 1930s, saw Nasser as another Mussolini: he considered both men aggressive fascists determined to invade other countries. Others believed that Nasser was acting out of legitimate patriotic motives, and the Foreign Office determined that the nationalization was deliberately provocative, but not illegal. UK Attorney General Reginald Manningham-Buller, who was not officially asked for his opinion, expressed the view that the government's planned attack on Egypt would be illegal.

Then Foreign Secretary Anthony Nutting recalled Eden telling him, "What is all this nonsense about isolating Nasser or "neutralizing" him as you call it? I want him destroyed, can't you understand that? I want him assassinated, and if you and the Foreign Ministry say 'I don't agree,' then you'd better come to the cabinet and explain why." When Nutting pointed out that they had no alternative government to replace Nasser, Eden apparently replied, "I don't give a shit if there is anarchy and chaos in Egypt." At a private meeting in Downing Street on October 16, 1956, Eden showed several ministers a plan, presented two days earlier by the French: Israel would invade Egypt, the UK and France would issue an ultimatum demanding a cessation of operations by the two contenders, and when one refused, they would send troops to enforce the ultimatum, separate the parties, occupy the Canal, and get rid of Nasser. When Nutting suggested that the Americans should be consulted, Eden replied, "I will not bring the Americans into this.... Dulles has done enough damage. This has nothing to do with the Americans. We and the French must decide what to do. We alone." Eden openly admitted that his view of the crisis was shaped by his experiences in the two world wars and wrote: "We are all marked to some extent by the stamp of our generation, mine being that of the assassination in Sarajevo and all that flowed from it. It is impossible to read what has happened now and not feel that we have a responsibility to always be one step behind.... Always one step behind, one fatal step."

This was not an immediate military response to the crisis. Cyprus had no deep-water ports, which meant that Malta, several days' sail from Egypt, would have to be the main staging point for the invasion fleet if the Libyan government would not allow a land invasion through its territory. Eden initially weighed using British forces in the Kingdom of Libya to recapture the Canal, but then decided that this risked inflaming Arab opinion. Unlike French Prime Minister Guy Mollet, who saw recapturing the Canal as the primary objective, Eden believed that the real need was to remove Nasser from office. He hoped that if the Egyptian army was quickly and humiliatingly defeated by the Anglo-French forces, the Egyptian people would rise up against Nasser. Eden told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery that the overall objective of the mission was simply to "topple Nasser from his position." In the absence of a popular uprising, Eden and Mollet would say that the Egyptian forces were incapable of defending their country and, therefore, the Anglo-French would have to return to protect the Suez Canal.

Eden believed that if Nasser was seen to get away with seizing the Canal, Egypt and other Arab countries might move closer to the Soviet orbit. At the time, the Middle East was supplying 80-90% of Western Europe's oil, and Nasser's action could provide a spur for other countries in the region to begin nationalizing their oil industries. The invasion, Eden argued at the time and again in an interview in 1967, was intended to maintain the sanctity of international agreements and prevent future unilateral denunciations of treaties. Eden was forceful during the crisis in using the media, including the BBC, to incite public opinion to support his views on the need to overthrow Nasser. In September 1956 a plan was drawn up to reduce the flow of water in the Nile through the use of dams in an attempt to damage Nasser's position. However, the plan was abandoned because it would take months to implement and because of fears that it might affect other countries such as Uganda and Kenya.

On September 25, 1956, Treasury Secretary Harold Macmillan met informally with President Eisenhower at the White House; he misunderstood Eisenhower's determination to avoid war and told Eden that the Americans would in no way oppose an attempt to overthrow Nasser. Although Eden had known Eisenhower for years and had many direct contacts during the crisis, he also misread the situation. The Americans saw themselves as the champions of decolonization and refused to support any movement that could be considered imperialist or colonialist. Eisenhower felt that the crisis should be handled peacefully; he told Eden that American public opinion would not support a military solution. Eden and other leading British officials incorrectly believed that Nasser's support for the Palestinian militia against Israel, as well as his attempts to destabilize pro-Western regimes in Iraq and other Arab states, would dissuade the United States from opposing the operation. Eisenhower specifically warned that Americans and the world "would be outraged" unless all peaceful solutions had been exhausted before violence was employed, and even then they would be opposed to military intervention. At the root of the problem was the fact that Eden felt that the United Kingdom remained an independent world power. His lack of sympathy for British integration into Europe, manifested in his skepticism about the fledgling European Economic Community (EEC), was another aspect of his belief in the independent role of the United Kingdom in world affairs.

Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula in late October 1956. The United Kingdom and France acted ostensibly to separate the two sides and impose peace, but in fact to regain control of the canal and overthrow Nasser. The United States immediately and strongly opposed the invasion. The United Nations denounced the invasion, the Soviets were bellicose, and only New Zealand, Australia, West Germany and South Africa spoke in favor of the British position.

The Suez Canal was of minor economic importance to the United States, which acquired 15% of its oil through that route. Eisenhower wanted to negotiate international peace in "fragile" regions. He did not see Nasser as a serious threat to the West, but he was concerned that the Soviets, who were well known to want a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean for their Black Sea fleet, might take sides with Egypt. Eisenhower feared a pro-Soviet backlash among Arab nations if, as seemed likely, Egypt suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the British, French, and Israelis.

Eden, who faced internal pressure from within his party to take action in addition to arresting the decline of British influence in the Near East, had ignored the United Kingdom's financial dependence on the United States in the wake of World War II, and had assumed that Washington would automatically back any action taken by its closest ally. At a public rally, held in Trafalgar Square on November 4, 1956, Aneurin Bevan ridiculed Eden: "Sir Anthony Eden has been pretending that he is now invading Egypt to strengthen the United Nations. Of course, every crook could say the same thing could argue that he was breaking in to train the police. So, if he is sincere in what he is saying, and he might be, then he is too stupid to be prime minister." Public opinion was divided, although some historians believe that the majority of public opinion in the U.K. sided with Eden, who was forced to bow to U.S. diplomatic and financial pressure and domestic protests and call a cease-fire when Anglo-French forces had occupied only thirty-seven miles of the Channel. The U.S. threat to withdraw financial support for sterling divided the British cabinet, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Harold Macmillan threatened to resign unless an immediate truce was demanded. All this left Eden under immense pressure. The cease-fire would finally take place on November 7.

Deterioration of health, loss of confidence and resignation

Suez severely damaged Eden's reputation as a statesman and seriously worsened his already delicate health. He went to Jamaica on vacation, at a time when he was still determined to continue as prime minister. However, his health did not improve, and during his absence from London, his chancellor Harold Macmillan and Rab Butler worked to remove him from office. On the morning of the cease-fire, Eisenhower agreed to meet with Eden to publicly resolve their differences, but this offer was later withdrawn after Secretary of State Dulles warned that it could further worsen the situation in the Middle East.

The Observer newspaper accused Eden of lying to Parliament about the Suez crisis, while MPs of all parties criticized his call for a cease-fire before the Canal was taken. Churchill, while publicly supporting Eden's actions, privately criticized his successor for not seeing the military operation through to its conclusion. Eden easily defeated a motion of censure in the House of Commons on November 8.

While Eden was on vacation in Jamaica, other members of the government discussed on November 20 how to counter allegations that the United Kingdom and France had colluded with Israel to take over the Canal, but decided that there was too little evidence in the public domain. Upon his return on December 14, Eden still hoped to continue as prime minister. He had lost his traditional base of support on the conservative left and among moderate opinion nationally, but seems to have hoped to rebuild a new base of support among the right. However, his position had eroded during his absence. He wanted to make a statement attacking Nasser as a stooge of the Soviets, as well as the United Nations, and speaking of the "lessons of the 1930s," but Macmillan, Butler, and Lord Salisbury prevented him from doing so.

On his return to the House of Commons on December 17, he entered the chamber unheeded by his own party. A Conservative MP rose to shake up the session's agenda, but had to sit down in embarrassment as Labour MPs laughed. On December 18, he addressed the 1922 committee (Conservative MPs), declaring "as long as I live, I will never apologize for what we did," but was unable to answer a question on the validity of the 1950 Tripartite Declaration. In his final statement to the House of Commons as prime minister on Dec. 20, he acquitted himself well in a difficult debate, telling MPs that "it was not known in advance that Israel would attack Egypt." Victor Rothwell writes that remorse at having misled the House of Commons in this way dogged him thereafter, as did concern that the US administration might demand that the UK pay compensation to Egypt. Documents released in January 1987 showed that the entire cabinet had been informed of the plan on October 23, 1956.

Eden suffered another fever at Chequers over Christmas, but still talked of planning an official trip to the Soviet Union for April 1957; he wanted a full inquiry into the Crabb affair and pestering Lord Hailsham, First Lord of the Admiralty, about the six million pounds spent on oil storage in Malta.

He resigned as prime minister on Jan. 9, 1957, after his doctors warned him that his life was at stake if he continued. Historian John Charmley wrote that his "ill health provided a worthy reason for action [in a roundabout way, he meant resigning], which, in any case, would have been necessary." For his part, Rothwell wrote that "mystery persists" as to exactly how Eden was persuaded to resign, although the scant evidence suggests that Butler, who was expected to succeed him as prime minister, was at the center of the intrigue. He also wrote that Eden's physical discomfort, with its febrile episodes were "unpleasant, but brief and not life-threatening" and that there may have been "manipulation of medical data" to make his health appear "even worse" than it was. Macmillan wrote in his diary that "nature had provided a real reason for health" when a "diplomatic illness" might otherwise have been invented. David Carlton, in 1981, went so far as to venture even that Buckingham might have been involved, a suggestion disputed by Rothwell. As early as the spring of 1954, Eden had shown himself indifferent to cultivating good relations with the new queen. There is also evidence that there was concern at the Palace that they had not been fully informed during the Suez crisis. In the 1960s, Clarissa Eden was observed to speak of the queen "in an extremely hostile and contemptuous manner," and in a 1976 interview, Eden commented that "I would not say she was pro-Suez."

Although the media expected Butler to get the nod as Eden's successor, a cabinet poll taken by the Queen showed that Macmillan was the near-unanimous choice, so he was sworn in as the new prime minister on January 10, 1957. Shortly thereafter, Eden and his wife left England for a vacation in New Zealand.

In resigning as prime minister he also gave up his seat in the House of Commons. Eden kept in touch with Lord Salisbury; he agreed with him that Macmillan had been the best choice as prime minister, but understood that he had resigned because of Macmillan's Cypriot policy. Despite a series of letters in which Macmillan almost begged him to back him personally in the 1959 election, Eden issued only a statement of support for the Conservative government. Eden retained much of his personal popularity in the United Kingdom and considered returning to Parliament. Several Conservative MPs were reportedly willing to give up their seats to him, although the party leadership was less enthusiastic. He finally gave up such hopes in late 1960, after a grueling lecture tour of Yorkshire. Macmillan initially offered to recommend him for a viscountcy, which Eden took as a calculated insult, and he was eventually granted a shire (which was then the traditional rank for a former prime minister) after reminding Macmillan that the queen had already offered him one. He entered the House of Lords as Earl of Avon in 1961.

He lived at Rose Bower, on the banks of the River Ebble, in Broad Chalke, a small village in Wiltshire, after retirement. From 1961 he raised a herd of sixty Hereford cows until further deterioration of his health forced him to sell them in 1975. In 1968, he bought Alvediston Manor, where he resided until his death in 1977.

In July 1962, Eden made headlines by commenting that "Mr. Selwyn Lloyd had been horribly treated" when the latter was sacked as Chancellor in the reshuffle known as the "night of the British long knives." In August 1962, at a dinner party, he had a "defamatory confrontation" with Nigel Birch who, as Secretary of State for Air, had not strongly supported the Suez invasion. In August 1962, at a dinner party, he had a "defamatory confrontation" with Nigel Birch who, as Secretary of State for Air, had not strongly supported the Suez invasion. In 1963, Eden initially favored Hailsham as Conservative leader, but then shifted his support to Home, a conciliation candidate.

From 1945 to 1973, Eden became chancellor of the University of Birmingham. In a television interview in 1966, he called on the United States to halt the bombing of North Vietnam in order to concentrate on developing a peace plan "that would possibly be acceptable to Hanoi." Bombing, he argued, would never resolve the conflict and the differences between the two areas of Vietnam. "On the contrary," he declared, "bombing creates a kind of David and Goliath complex in any country that has to suffer, as we had to suffer, and I suspect the Germans had to suffer in the last war."

Eden's occasional articles and television appearance in the early 1970s were an exception to an almost total retirement. He rarely appeared in public, unlike other former prime ministers, e.g., James Callaghan, who frequently commented on current affairs. He was even accidentally omitted from a list of Conservative prime ministers by Margaret Thatcher when she took over the Conservative premiership in 1975, although he later went out of his way to establish relations with Eden, and later, his widow. In retirement, he harshly criticized regimes such as Sukarno's in Indonesia, which confiscated assets belonging to his former colonial rulers, and seemed to have reverted somewhat to the right-wing views he had espoused in the 1920s.

In his retirement, Eden corresponded with Selwyn Lloyd, coordinating the release of information and which writers would agree to talk to and when. Rumors that the UK had colluded with France and Israel surfaced, albeit confusingly, as early as 1957. In the 1970s they had agreed that Lloyd would only tell his side of the story after Eden's death, but Lloyd outlived him by a year, struggling with a terminal illness to complete his own memoirs.

Eden was particularly bitter that Eisenhower had indicated at the beginning that the British and French troops should be allowed to remain in Port Said, and that later the U.S. ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. demanded an immediate withdrawal at the UN, which caused the operation to fail. He considered the attitude of the Eisenhower administration hypocritical in view of the coups d'état in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954).

He published three volumes of political memoirs, in which he denied collusion with France and Israel in the Suez crisis. Like Churchill, he relied heavily on the writing of "black" young researchers, whose drafts he sometimes angrily tossed into the flower beds outside his study. One of them was the young David Dilks. In his view, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, whom he particularly disliked, was responsible for the bad luck of the Suez adventure. At a press conference in October, just three weeks before the fighting began, Dulles had linked the Suez Canal problem to colonialism, and his statement infuriated Eden and much of the United Kingdom as well. "The dispute over Nasser's seizure of the canal," Eden wrote, "had, of course, nothing to do with colonialism, but concerned international rights." He added that "if the United States had to defend its treaty rights in the Panama Canal, it would not consider such action colonialism." His insincerity further diminished his prestige, and a major concern in his later years was to try to improve his reputation, severely damaged by Suez; he went so far as to take legal action to protect his point of view.

Eden blamed the U.S. for forcing him to withdraw, but took credit for U.N. action in patrolling the borders between Israel and Egypt. He said of the invasion, "Peace at any price has never prevented war. We must not repeat the mistakes of the pre-war years, behaving as if the enemies of peace and order were armed only with good intentions." Recalling the incident in a 1967 interview, he stated, "I still have no regrets about Suez. People never look at what would have happened if we had done nothing. There is a parallel with the 1930s. If you allow people to break agreements with impunity, the appetite grows to feed on those things. I don't see what else we should have done. It couldn't be helped. It is difficult to act rather than disengage." In his 1967 interview, which he arranged not to be published except posthumously, he acknowledged secret dealings with the French and "indications" for Israel to harass Nasser. However, he insisted that "the joint venture and its preparations were justified in light of the evils it was intended to prevent." "I have no apologies to offer," he declared.

By the time of his retirement, he was short of money, although The Times paid him an advance of £100,000 for his memoirs, and any profit on this amount would be divided between him and the paper. By 1970, his fortune amounted to £185,000: he was rich for the first time in his life. Towards the end, he published a personal memoir of his early years: Another World (1976).

In December 1976, Eden felt well enough to travel with his wife to the United States to spend Christmas and New Year's with Averell and Pamela Harriman, but after arriving in the country his health deteriorated rapidly. Prime Minister James Callaghan chartered an RAF plane stationed in the United States that was sent to Miami to bring Eden home.

Eden died of metastatic carcinoma of the prostate to bone and mediastinal nodes at his home in Alvediston Manor on January 14, 1977, at the age of seventy-nine. He was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Alvediston. With his death, the last bastion of the Churchill cabinet's hard-line policy disappeared. His son, Nicholas Eden, second Earl of Avon (1930-1985), was also a politician and minister in Margaret Thatcher's government until his death from AIDS at the age of fifty-four.

On November 5, 1923, shortly before his election to Parliament, he married Beatrice Beckett, then aged eighteen. They had three sons: Simon Gascoigne (1924-1945), Robert, who died very shortly after birth in October 1928, and Nicholas (1930-1985). The marriage was not a success, and both parties seemed to lead separate lives, so much so that his wife's name is barely mentioned in his diaries in the mid-1930s. The marriage finally broke down under the pressure and anguish of the loss of their son Simon, killed in action in Burma in 1945. His plane was reported "missing in action" on June 23, being found on July 16. Eden did not want the news to be made public until after the outcome of the July 26 election, to avoid claims that he was "politically profiting" from the tragedy.

Between 1946 and 1950, while separated from his wife, Eden maintained an open relationship with Dorothy, wife of Earl David Beatty. In 1950, Eden and Beatrice finally divorced, and in 1952, he married Churchill's niece, Clarissa Spencer-Churchill, a Catholic fiercely criticized by Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh for marrying a divorced man.

Eden had a stomach ulcer, aggravated by overwork, as early as the 1920s. During an operation to remove gallstones on April 12, 1953, one of his ducts was damaged, leaving him susceptible to recurrent infections, biliary obstruction and liver failure. The physician consulted at the time was the royal physician, Sir Horace Evans, 1st Baron Evans. Three surgeons were recommended and Eden chose the one who had previously performed his appendectomy, John Basil Hume, surgeon at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He also suffered from acute cholangitis, an abdominal infection that became so painful that he was admitted to the hospital in 1956 with episodes of high fever. He required major surgery on three or four occasions to alleviate the problem.

He was also prescribed benzedrine, one of the quintessential drugs used during the 1950s. Considered then as a harmless stimulant, it belongs to the amphetamine family, and at that time it was prescribed and used very commonly. Among its side effects were insomnia, restlessness and mood swings, all of which Eden suffered during the Suez crisis; in fact, early in his tenure as prime minister he complained that the noise of motorcycles kept him awake at night, he could not sleep more than 5 hours a night or sometimes woke up at 3 am. It is now commonly accepted that Eden's drug regimen was part of the reason for his poor judgment while prime minister. Thorpe's biography, however, denied benzedrine abuse on his part, stating that the allegations were "false, as Eden's medical records at Birmingham University, not yet available for investigation, make clear."

The resignation document drafted by Eden for delivery to the cabinet on January 9, 1957 admitted his dependence on stimulants and denied that they had affected his judgment during the Suez crisis in the fall of 1956. "I have been forced to increase the drugs [taken after "bad abdominal operations"] and also greatly increase the stimulants needed to counteract the drugs. This has finally had an adverse effect on my precarious inner self," he wrote. However, in his book The Suez Affair (1966), historian Hugh Thomas, quoted by David Owen, claimed that Eden had revealed to a colleague that he was "practically living on benzedrine" at the time. In all, at different points, but mostly simultaneously, he took a combination of sedatives, opioid analgesics and corresponding stimulants to counteract their depressant effects, including promazine, a heavily sedative antipsychotic that Eden used to induce sleep and counteract the stimulants he took, dextroamphetamine, amobarbital, a barbiturate sedative, secobarbital, another barbiturate sedative, vitamin B12, and pethidine, a unique opioid analgesic thought at the time to have the property of relaxing bile ducts known to be inaccurate. ...

On his social plane, Eden, who was educated, well-groomed and good-looking, always had a particularly cultured appearance. This gave him great popular support throughout his political life, but some contemporaries felt that he was simply a superficial person who lacked deeper convictions. That view was reinforced by his very pragmatic approach to politics. Oswald Mosley, for example, said that he never understood why Eden was pushed so hard by the Conservative party, as he felt his abilities were far inferior to those of Harold Macmillan and Oliver Stanley. In 1947, Dick Crossman called Eden "that peculiarly British fellow, the idealist without conviction."

U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson regarded Eden as a rather old-fashioned political amateur, typical of the British establishment. In contrast, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev commented that until his Suez adventure, Eden had been "in the first world class" of politics.

Eden was heavily influenced by Stanley Baldwin when he first entered Parliament. After earlier combative beginnings, he cultivated a low-key speaking style that relied heavily on rational argumentation and consensus building, rather than rhetoric and party point-scoring, which was often very effective in the House of Commons. However, he was not always gracious as an effective public speaker, and his parliamentary performances sometimes disappointed many of his supporters, as after his resignation from Neville Chamberlain's government. Winston Churchill even once commented on one of Eden's speeches that the latter had used every cliché except "God is love." That was deliberate, as he often crossed out original phrases from drafts of speeches and replaced them with clichés.

Eden's inability to express himself clearly has often been attributed to his shyness and lack of self-confidence. Eden was known to be much more direct when meeting with his secretaries and advisors than in cabinet meetings and public speeches and sometimes tended to become enraged and behave "like a child," only to regain patience within minutes. Many of those who worked for him commented that he was "two men": one charming, erudite, and hardworking and the other petty and prone to temper tantrums during which he would insult his subordinates.

As prime minister, Eden was known to telephone ministers and newspaper editors from 6 a.m. onward. Rothwell wrote that even before Suez, the telephone had become "a drug:" "During the Suez crisis, Eden's telephone mania exceeded all limits."

Eden was notoriously "unclubbable" (an enemy and not given to groups) and offended Churchill by refusing to join The Other Club. He also refused to be an honorary member of the Athenaeum. However, he maintained friendly relations with opposition MPs; for example, George Thomas received a kind two-page letter from Eden on learning that his stepfather had died. Eden was a trustee of the National Gallery, succeeding MacDonald, between 1935 and 1949. He also had a deep knowledge of Persian poetry and Shakespeare and would interact with anyone who could display similar knowledge.

Rothwell wrote that, although Eden was capable of acting ruthlessly, for example in the repatriation of the Cossacks in 1945, his main concern was to avoid being seen as "an appeaser," as for example by the Soviet reluctance to accept a democratic Poland in October 1944. Like many people, Eden convinced himself that his past actions were more consistent than they had actually been. Recent biographies have placed more emphasis on his foreign policy achievements, perceiving that he had deep convictions regarding world peace and security, as well as a strong social conscience.

Anthony Eden's personal and political papers, as well as treatises, letters and Eden family papers can be found in the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham, in the Avon Papers collection. Various correspondences from his political period can be found in the same university and section.

In the audiovisual section, his figure was reflected by actor Jeremy Northam, who played him in his time as Foreign Secretary and British Prime Minister in the first two seasons of the Netflix series The Crown, as well as by Samuel West in the film Darkest Hour (2017), directed by Joe Wright.


  1. Anthony Eden
  2. Anthony Eden
  3. ^ Robert Mallett, "The Anglo‐Italian war trade negotiations, contraband control and the failure to appease Mussolini, 1939–40." Diplomacy and Statecraft 8.1 (1997): 137–167.
  4. ^ a b c Churchill 1948
  5. «El Reino Unido libró y perdió su última batalla hace un cuarto de siglo en el canal de Suez». El País. Consultado el 13 de mayo de 2021.
  6. Aster, Sidney (1976). Anthony Eden. Londres. St Martin's Press, p. 2.
  7. a b Rhodes James, Robert (1986). Anthony Eden: A Biography. Londres. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pp. 9–14.
  8. Rhodes James, Robert (1986), p. 10.
  9. Rhodes James, Robert (1986), p. 6.
  10. D.R. Thorpe: Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, 1897–1977. Chatto & Windus, London 2003, S. 13.
  11. D.R. Thorpe: Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, 1897–1977. Chatto & Windus, London 2003, S. 14.
  12. Victor Rothwell: Anthony Eden: A Political Biography 1931–57. Manchester University Press, 1992, S. 5.
  13. Alan Campbell-Johanson, Eden: The Making of a Statesman, Read Books, 2007, S. 9.
  14. Douglas Hurd: Choose your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 2010, S. 295.
  15. ^ In lingua italiana: rappacificazione, accordo, accomodamento.
  16. ^ Xavi Casinos y Josep Brunet, Franco conra los Masones, mr ediciones, Madrid, 2007, p. 74-77.

Please Disable Ddblocker

We are sorry, but it looks like you have an dblocker enabled.

Our only way to maintain this website is by serving a minimum ammount of ads

Please disable your adblocker in order to continue.

Dafato needs your help!

Dafato is a non-profit website that aims to record and present historical events without bias.

The continuous and uninterrupted operation of the site relies on donations from generous readers like you.

Your donation, no matter the size will help to continue providing articles to readers like you.

Will you consider making a donation today?