Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II poses in 2010 with several of the prime ministers who served during her reign. With the Queen, from left to right, are David Cameron, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Winston Churchill (1951-1955): The Queen was said to be in awe of her first prime minister, Winston Churchill. Once, when asked which Prime Minister she liked to meet the most, she replied: “Winston of course, because it’s always so much fun.”
Antoine Eden (1955-1957): Her Majesty found her second Prime Minister to be a sympathetic listener and their relationship was one of constitutional propriety. The greatest political event that occurred during the time of Eden was the Suez Crisis. During this time, he thought it was of paramount importance to keep the Queen informed, so he shared all the Suez papers with her – the first time he had been shown secret government documents.
Harold Macmillan (1957-1963): The Queen initially found Macmillan hard to deal with, but they eventually warmed to each other. Her Majesty relied on Macmillan for her wise counsel – both during her tenure and after her retirement in 1963.
Alec Douglas-Home (1963-1964): The Queen knew Douglas-Home well, seen from behind, as he had been a childhood friend of the Queen Mother. Her Majesty therefore worked hard to restore her informal relationship with him. During the year he was in office, Douglas-Home helped the monarch appoint several royal horses.
Harold Wilson (1964-1970, 1974-1976): Wilson, who came from a lower-middle-class background, became the Queen’s first Labor Prime Minister. Wilson, seen here right next to Prince Philip, often broke with tradition and enjoyed helping with the dishes after barbecues at Balmoral – one of the Queen’s residences. The Queen, however, warmed to Wilson’s informal presence and even invited him to stay for drinks after their first meeting, which was not common.
Edward Heath (1970-1974): The relationship between Her Majesty and Heath was difficult, particularly because their views differed so widely. While the Queen considered her role as head of the Commonwealth to be of extreme importance, Heath favored European integration.
James Callaghan (1976-1979): Callaghan got along with the Queen of course, but noted that she offered him “conviviality, but not friendship”. In an interview with the BBC’s David Frost, Callaghan spoke of when he asked Her Majesty’s advice as he couldn’t make up his mind. He said the Queen looked at him ‘with a twinkle in her eye’ and said ‘this is what you get paid for’.
Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990): While Thatcher and the Queen were closest in age, Thatcher kept their encounters strictly professional, formal and reputedly rigid. The “Iron Lady”, as she became known, is said to have had a strained relationship with the monarch during their traditional weekly meetings. Thatcher also viewed his annual visits to the royal house of Balmoral as a break from his job. But despite this, Thatcher was said to have been incredibly respectful of the Queen and eventually became her longest-serving prime minister.
John Major (1990-1997): John Major and the Queen supported each other during his tenure. They shared many crises together – he the Gulf War and economic downturns, she a fire at Windsor Castle and the marital problems of his son Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife, Diana.
Tony Blair (1997-2007): Blair viewed the UK’s relationship with the monarchy as an antiquated institution and was determined to modernize it. In his book “A Journey”, he poked fun at the annual tradition of visiting the Queen at the royal house of Balmoral, recalling “the vivid combination of the intriguing, the surreal and the downright bizarre. All culture was totally foreign, of course, not that the royal family weren’t very welcoming.” Meanwhile, the Queen reportedly viewed Blair’s relationship with US President George W. Bush as too friendly.
Gordon Brown (2007-2010): Although the Queen and Brown are believed to have shared a close relationship, that was not enough to secure her an invitation to Prince William’s wedding. Her Majesty, however, occasionally mimicked her Scottish accent lightly.
David Cameron (2010-2016): The relationship between David Cameron and the Queen seems to have been warm. He is not only the youngest of the Queen’s prime ministers, but they are also linked. He is the direct descendant of King William IV, making him the Queen’s fifth cousin, twice removed.