Early lifeEdward Heath was born at 54 Albion Road, Broadstairs, Kent on 9 July 1916, the son of William George Heath (1888–1976), a carpenter who built s for during the First World War, and was subsequently employed as a builderBritish Society Since 1945: The Penguin Social History of Britain, and Edith Anne Heath (''née'' Pantony; 1888–1951), a lady's maid. His father was later a successful small businessman after taking over a building and decorating firm. Heath's paternal grandfather had run a small dairy business, and when that failed worked as a porter at Broadstairs Station on the Southern Railway. , Penguin Books, 1996, p. 158 Edward was four years old when his younger brother, John, was born; there was no question that Edward was the "favoured brother". Heath was known as "Teddy" as a young man. He was educated at in , and in 1935 with the aid of a county scholarship he went up to study at . In later years, Heath's peculiar accent, with its "strangulated" vowel sounds, combined with his non-Standard pronunciation of "l" as "w" and "out" as "eout", was satirised by in the audio sketch " Teach Yourself Heath" (released on a 7" flexi-disc single included with initial copies of their 1972 LP '' Monty Python's Previous Record''). Heath's biographer John Campbell speculates that his speech, unlike that of his father and younger brother, who both spoke with Kent accents, must have undergone "drastic alteration on encountering Oxford", although retaining elements of Kent speech.
OxfordA talented musician, Heath won the college's ship in his first term (he had previously tried for the organ scholarships at , and ) which enabled him to stay at the university for a fourth year; he eventually graduated with a BA in in 1939. While at university Heath became active in Conservative Party politics. On the key political issue of the day, foreign policy, he opposed the Conservative-dominated government of the day ever more openly. His first Paper Speech (i.e. a major speech listed on the along with the visiting guest speakers) at the , in 1936, was in opposition to the of Germany by returning her colonies, confiscated during the First World War. In June 1937 he was elected President of the as a pro- candidate, in opposition to the pro- John Stokes (himself later a Conservative MP). In 1937–38 Heath was chairman of the national Federation of University Conservative Associations, and in the same year (his third at university) he was Secretary and then Librarian of the Oxford Union. At the end of the year he was defeated for the Presidency of the Oxford Union by another Balliol candidate, Alan Wood, on the issue of whether the Chamberlain government should give way to a left-wing . On that occasion, Heath supported the government. In his final year Heath was President of Balliol College Junior Common Room, an office held in subsequent years by his near-contemporaries and , and as such was invited to support the Master of Balliol Alexander Lindsay, who stood as an anti-appeasement 'Independent Progressive' candidate against the official Conservative candidate, Quintin Hogg, in the . Heath, who had himself applied to be the Conservative candidate for the by-election, accused the government in an October Union Debate of "turning all four cheeks" to , and was elected as President of the Oxford Union in November 1938, sponsored by Balliol, after winning the Presidential Debate that "This House has No Confidence in the National Government as presently constituted". He was thus President in Hilary term 1939; the visiting described him in his diaries as "a pleasant youth". As an undergraduate, Heath travelled widely in Europe. His opposition to appeasement was nourished by his witnessing first-hand a in 1937, where he met leading Nazis , , and at an cocktail party. He later described Himmler as "the most evil man I have ever met". He was in Germany for two months to learn German but did not keep up any fluency in the language in later life. In 1938 he visited , then under attack from Spanish Nationalist forces during the . On one occasion a car in which he was travelling came under machine-gun fire, while on another a bomb hit his hotel whilst he was observing an air raid from outside. In the summer of 1939, accompanied by his Jewish friend Madron Seligman, he travelled to and . They made the return journey by hitchhiking and rail across Germany through mobilising troops, returning to Britain just before the declaration of war.
Second World WarHeath spent late 1939 and early 1940 on a debating tour of the United States before being called up. On 22 March 1941, he received an emergency commission as a in the . During the war he initially served with heavy anti-aircraft guns around (which suffered heavy German bombing in May 1941) and by early 1942 was regimental , with the war substantive rank of .Ziegler, ''Edward Heath'' (2010) ch. 3 Heath participated as an adjutant in the , where he met , French Foreign Minister under Pompidou. As a temporary major commanding a battery of his own, he provided artillery support during the Allied campaigns in France and Germany in 1944–45, for which he received a on 8 November 1945. Heath later remarked that, although he did not personally kill anybody, as the British forces advanced he saw the devastation caused by his unit's artillery bombardments. In September 1945 he commanded a firing squad that executed a Polish soldier convicted of rape and murder. He was appointed a , Military Division (MBE) on 24 January 1946. He was demobilised in August 1946 and promoted to the substantive rank of on 1 May 1947. Heath joined the as a lieutenant-colonel on 1 September 1951, in which he remained active throughout the 1950s, rising to commanding officer of the Second Battalion; a portrait of him in full dress uniform still hangs in the HAC's Long Room. In April 1971, as prime minister, he wore his lieutenant-colonel's insignia to inspect troops.
Post-war, 1945–1950Before the war, Heath had won a scholarship to and had begun making preparations for a career at the Bar, but after the war he was placed in joint top position in the s. He then became a civil servant in the Ministry of Civil Aviation (he was disappointed not to be posted to the Treasury, but declined an offer to join the Foreign Office, fearing that foreign postings might prevent him from entering politics). Heath joined a team under Alison Munro tasked with drawing up a scheme for British airports using some of the many Second World War bases, and was specifically charged with planning the home counties. Years later she attributed his evident enthusiasm for Maplin Airport to this work. Then much to the surprise of civil service colleagues, he sought adoption as the prospective parliamentary candidate for and resigned in November 1947. After working as news editor of the '' '' from February 1948 to September 1949, Heath worked as a management trainee at the ers Brown, Shipley & Co. until his election as (MP) for in the February 1950 general election. In the election he defeated an old contemporary from the Oxford Union, , by a margin of 133 votes.
Member of Parliament (1950–1965)Heath made his in the House of Commons on 26 June 1950, in which he appealed to the Labour government to participate in the Schuman Plan. As MP for Bexley, he gave enthusiastic speeches in support of the young candidate for neighbouring , Margaret Roberts, later . He was appointed as an opposition whip by in February 1951. He remained in the whips' office after the Conservatives won the 1951 general election, rising rapidly to Joint Deputy Chief Whip, Deputy Chief Whip and, in December 1955, Government Chief Whip under . Journalist has observed that "Of all government jobs, this requires firmness and fairness allied to tact and patience and Heath's ascent seems baffling in hindsight". Due to the convention that whips do not speak in Parliament, Heath managed to keep out of the controversy over the . On the announcement of Eden's resignation, Heath submitted a report on the opinions of the Conservative MPs regarding Eden's possible successors. This report favoured and helped to secure Macmillan the premiership in January 1957. Macmillan later appointed Heath Minister of Labour, a Cabinet Minister—as Chief Whip Heath had attended Cabinet, but had not been formally a member—after winning the October 1959 election. In 1960 Macmillan appointed Heath with responsibility for the negotiations to secure the UK's first attempt to join the (or , as it was then more widely known). After extensive negotiations, involving detailed agreements about the UK's agricultural trade with countries such as , British entry was vetoed by the French President, , at a press conference in January 1963 – much to the disappointment of Heath, who was a firm supporter of European common market membership for the United Kingdom. He oversaw a successful application when serving as prime minister a decade later. After this setback, a major humiliation for Macmillan's foreign policy, Heath was not a contender for the party leadership on Macmillan's retirement in October 1963. Under prime minister he was and Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, and oversaw the abolition of .
Leader of the Opposition (1965–1970)After the Conservative Party lost the general election of 1964, the defeated Home changed the party leadership rules to allow for a ballot by MPs and then resigned. The following year, Heath—who was at the time, and had recently won favourable publicity for leading the fight against Labour's —unexpectedly won the party's leadership contest, gaining 150 votes to 's 133 and 's 15. Heath became the Conservatives' youngest leader and retained office following the party's defeat in the general election of 1966. In April 1968, made his controversial "Rivers of Blood" speech, which criticised . Soon afterwards, Heath telephoned to inform her that he was going to sack Powell from the ; she recalled that she "really thought that it was better to let things cool down for the present rather than heighten the crisis". The next day, Heath sacked Powell. Several Conservatives on the right protested against Powell's sacking. According to Heath, he never spoke to Powell again.
Prime minister (1970–1974)
1970 electionWith another general election approaching in 1970 a Conservative policy document emerged from the De Vere Selsdon Estate, Selsdon Park Hotel that offered free-market–oriented policies as solutions to the country's unemployment and inflation problems.Young, Hugo. ''One Of Us'' London: MacMillan, 1989 Heath stated that the Selsdon weekend only reaffirmed policies that had actually been evolving since he became leader of the Conservative Party. The Labour prime minister, Harold Wilson, thought the document a vote-loser and dubbed it the product of ''Selsdon Man'' – after the supposedly prehistoric ''Piltdown Man'' – to portray it as reactionary. Heath's Conservative Party won the 1970 United Kingdom general election, general election of 1970 with 330 seats to Labour's 287. The new cabinet included the future prime minister Margaret Thatcher (Education and Science), William Whitelaw (Leader of the House of Commons) and the former prime minister Alec Douglas-Home (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs).
Welfare stateDuring Heath's first year in office, higher charges were introduced for benefits of the welfare state such as school meals, spectacles, dentistry, and prescriptions. Entitlement to State Sickness Benefit was also changed so that it would only be paid after the first three days of sickness.The Five Giants: A Biography of the Welfare State by Nicholas Timmins As a result of the squeeze in the education budget, the provision of Education Act 1944#free school milk, free school milk was ended for 8- to 11-year-olds (it had already been ended for older children by Harold Wilson); the tabloid press christened Margaret Thatcher, the then Education Secretary as "Margaret Thatcher: Milk Snatcher". Despite these measures, the Heath government encouraged a significant increase in welfare spending, and Thatcher blocked Macleod's other posthumous education policy: the abolition of the Open University, which had recently been founded by the preceding Labour government. Provision was made under the 1970 National Insurance (Old Persons' and Widows' Pensions and Attendances Allowances) Act for pensions to be paid to old people who had been excluded from the pre-1948 pension schemes and were accordingly excluded from the comprehensive scheme that was introduced in 1948. About 100,000 people were affected by this change, half of whom were receiving Supplementary Benefit under the social security scheme. The Act also made improvements to the Widow's Pension scheme by introducing a scale that started at 30 shillings a week for women widowed at the age of 40 and rose to the full rate of £5 at the age of 50. Considerable support was provided for nursery school building, and a long-term capital investment programme in school building was launched. A Family Fund was set up to assist families with children who had congenital conditions, while new benefits were introduced benefiting hundreds of thousands of disabled persons whose disabilities had been caused neither by war nor by industrial injury. An Attendance Allowance was introduced for those needing care at home, together with Invalidity Benefit for the long-term sick, while a higher Child Allowance was made available where invalidity allowance was paid. Widow's Benefits were introduced for those aged between forty and fifty years of age, improved subsidies for Slum clearance in the United Kingdom, slum clearance were made available, while Rent Allowances were introduced for private tenants. In April 1971, the right to education was given to all children with Down's syndrome for the first time. The school leaving age was raised to 16, while Family Income Supplement was introduced to boost the incomes of low-income earners. Families who received this benefit were exempted from Prescription charges, NHS charges while the children in such families were eligible for School meal#United Kingdom, free school meals. Social pension, Non-contributory pensions were also introduced for all persons aged eighty and above, while the Social Security Act 1973 was passed which introduced benefit indexation in the United Kingdom for the first time by index-linking benefits to prices to maintain their real value.
Scottish nationalismScottish National Party, Scottish nationalism grew as a political force, while the decimalisation of British coinage, begun under the previous Labour government, was completed eight months after Heath came to power. The Central Policy Review Staff was established by Heath in February 1971, while the Local Government Act 1972 changed the boundaries of the counties of England and Wales and created Metropolitan Counties around the major cities (e.g. Merseyside around Liverpool): this caused significant public anger. Heath did not divide England into regions, choosing instead to await the report of the Crowther Commission on the constitution; the 10 Regions of England, Government Office Regions were eventually set up by the Major government in 1994.
Economic policyChancellor of the Exchequer Iain Macleod died and was replaced on 20 July 1970 by Anthony Barber. Heath's planned economic policy changes (including a significant shift from direct to indirect taxation) remained largely unimplemented: the Selsdon policy document was more or less abandoned as unemployment increased considerably by 1972. By January that year, the number of unemployed reached a million, the highest level for more than two decades. Opposed to unemployment on moral grounds, Heath encouraged a famous "U-Turn" in economic policy that precipitated what became known as the "Barber boom". This was a two-range process involving the budgets of 1972 and 1973, the former of which pumped £2.5 billion into the economy in increased pensions and benefits and tax reductions. By early 1974, as a result of this Keynesian economic strategy, unemployment had fallen to under 550,000. The economic boom did not last, and the Heath government implemented various cuts that led to the abandonment of policy goals such as a planned expansion of nursery education.
Trade unionsMuch of the government's attention, as well as the media and public opinion, focused on deteriorating labour relations, as the government sought to weaken the economic power of the trade unions, which had grown steadily since 1945. The Industrial Relations Act 1971 set up a special court under the judge John Donaldson, Baron Donaldson of Lymington, Lord Donaldson. Its imprisonment of striking dockworkers was a public relations disaster and became an object lesson for the Thatcher government of the 1980s. Thatcher relied instead on confiscating the assets of unions that courts found to have violated anti-strike laws. The trade unions responded with a full-scale counterattack on a government hobbled by inflation and high unemployment. Especially damaging to the government's credibility were the two miners' strikes of 1972 and 1974, the latter of which resulted in much of the country's industry working a in an attempt to conserve energy. The National Union of Mineworkers (Great Britain), National Union of Mineworkers won its case but the energy shortages and the resulting breakdown of domestic consensus contributed to the eventual downfall of his government.
UnemploymentThere was a steep rise in unemployment for the first two years of the Heath ministry, but it was then reversed. Labour in 1964 had inherited an unemployment count of around 400,000 but saw unemployment peak at 631,000 in early 1967. At election time in June 1970, the unemployment numbers were still high at 582,000. Heath and the Conservatives were pledged to "full employment" but within a year it became clear that they were losing that battle, as the official unemployment count crept towards 1,000,000 and some newspapers suggested that it was even higher. In January 1972 it was officially confirmed that unemployment had risen above 1,000,000 – a level not seen for more than 30 years. Various other reports around this time suggested that unemployment was higher still, with ''The Times'' newspaper claiming that "nearly 3,000,000" people were jobless by March of that year.
Foreign policyUpon entering office in June 1970, Heath immediately set about trying to reverse Wilson's policy of ending Britain's military presence East of Suez. Heath took the United Kingdom into Europe on 1 January 1973, following passage in Parliament of the European Communities Act 1972 (UK), European Communities Act 1972 in October (21 Eliz. II c.68). He publicly supported the massive US bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in April 1972. His government quickly recognised the military regime of Augusto Pinochet in Military dictatorship of Chile (1973–1990), Chile and maintained good relations with it, despite the illegal nature of the Pinochet regime's 1973 Chilean coup d'état, coup d'etat. In October 1973 he placed a British arms embargo on all combatants in the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War, which mostly affected the Israelis by preventing them obtaining spares for their Centurion tanks. Heath refused to allow US intelligence gathering from British bases in Cyprus, resulting in a temporary halt in the US signals intelligence tap. He also refused permission for the US to use any British bases for resupply. He favoured links with the History of the People's Republic of China (1949–1976), People's Republic of China, visiting Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1974 and 1975 and remaining an honoured guest in China on frequent visits thereafter and forming a close relationship with Mao's successor Deng Xiaoping. Heath realised that to become closer to Europe he needed to be further from the United States, so he downplayed the Special Relationship that had long knitted the two nations together. The two nations differed on such major crises as Britain's EC membership, the Nixonomics, Nixon economic "shocks" of 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War, détente with Russia, Kissinger's Year of Europe and the Middle East crisis of 1973.
Northern IrelandHeath governed during a bloody period in the history of the The Troubles, Northern Ireland Troubles. On Bloody Sunday (1972), Bloody Sunday in 1972, 14 men and youths were shot dead by British soldiers during an anti-internment march in Derry, Derry City. In early 1971 Heath sent in a Secret Intelligence Service officer, Frank Steele, to talk to the IRA and find out what common ground there was for negotiations. Steele had carried out secret talks with Jomo Kenyatta ahead of the British withdrawal from Kenya. In July 1972, Heath permitted his Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, to hold unofficial talks in London with an IRA delegation by Seán Mac Stíofáin. In the aftermath of these unsuccessful talks, the Heath government pushed for a peaceful settlement with the political parties exclusively committed to non-violence. The 1973 , which proposed a power-sharing deal, was strongly repudiated by many Unionists and the who withdrew its MPs at Westminster from the Conservative whip. The proposal was finally brought down by the Loyalist Ulster Workers' Council strike in 1974, by which time Heath was no longer in office. Heath was targeted by the IRA for introducing internment in Northern Ireland. In December 1974, the Balcombe Street siege, Balcombe Street Active service unit, ASU threw a bomb onto the first-floor balcony of his home in Wilton Street, Belgravia where it exploded. Heath had been conducting a Christmas carol concert at Broadstairs and arrived home 10 minutes after the bomb exploded. No one was injured in the attack, but a landscape painted by Winston Churchill – given to Heath as a present – was damaged. In January 2003, Heath gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry and stated that he had never sanctioned unlawful lethal force in Northern Ireland.
Fall from power
1974 general electionsHeath tried to bolster his government by calling a February 1974 United Kingdom general election, general election for 28 February 1974, using the election slogan "Who governs Britain?". The result of the election was inconclusive with no party gaining an overall majority in the House of Commons; the Conservatives had the most votes but Labour had slightly more seats. Heath began negotiations with Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the but, when these failed, he resigned as prime minister on 4 March 1974, and was replaced by Wilson's minority Labour government, eventually confirmed, though with a tiny majority, in a second election in October.
Rise of ThatcherHeath came to be seen as a liability by many Conservative MPs, party activists and newspaper editors. His personality was considered cold and aloof, annoying even to his friends. Alan Watkins observed in 1991 that his "brusqueness, his gaucherie, his lack of small or indeed any talk, his sheer bad manners" were among the factors costing him the support of Conservative backbenchers in the subsequent 1975 Conservative Party leadership election, Conservative Party leadership election of 1975. He resolved to remain Conservative leader, even after losing the October 1974 general election, and at first it appeared that by calling on the loyalty of his front-bench colleagues he might prevail. In the weeks following the second election defeat, Heath came under tremendous pressure to concede a review of the rules and agreed to establish a commission to propose changes and to seek re-election. There was no clear challenger after had left the party and Keith Joseph had ruled himself out after controversial statements implying that the working classes should be encouraged to use more birth control. Joseph's close friend and ally , who believed that an adherent to the philosophy of the Centre for Policy Studies should stand, joined the leadership contest in his place alongside the outsider Hugh Fraser (British politician), Hugh Fraser. Aided by Airey Neave's campaigning among backbench MPs — whose earlier approach to William Whitelaw, 1st Viscount Whitelaw, William Whitelaw had been rebuffed, out of loyalty to Heath — she emerged as the only serious challenger. The new rules permitted new candidates to enter the ballot in a second round of voting should the first be inconclusive, so Thatcher's challenge was considered by some to be that of a stalking horse. Neave deliberately understated Thatcher's support to attract wavering votes from MPs who were keen to see Heath replaced even though they did not necessarily want Thatcher to replace him. On 4 February 1975, Thatcher defeated Heath in the first ballot by 130 votes to 119, with Fraser coming in a distant third with 16 votes. This was not a big enough margin to give Thatcher the 15% majority necessary to win on the first ballot, but having finished in second place Heath immediately resigned and did not contest the next ballot. His favoured candidate, William Whitelaw, lost to Thatcher in the second vote one week later (Thatcher 146, Whitelaw 79, Geoffrey Howe, Howe 19, Jim Prior, Prior 19, John Peyton, Baron Peyton of Yeovil, Peyton 11). The vote polarised along right-left lines, with in addition the region, experience and education of the MP having their effects. Heath and Whitelaw were stronger on the left, among Oxbridge and public school graduates, and in MPs from Northern England or Scotland. Thatcher had promised Heath a seat in the Shadow Cabinet and planned to offer him whatever post he wanted. His advisors agreed he should wait at least six months, so he declined. He never relented and his refusal was called "the incredible sulk". Thatcher visited Heath at his home shortly after her election as leader and had to stay for coffee with his PPS Timothy Kitson so the waiting press would not realise how brief the visit had been. Heath claimed that he had simply declined her request for advice about how to handle the press, whilst Thatcher claimed that she offered him any Shadow Cabinet position he wanted and asked him to lead the Conservative campaign in the imminent 1975 United Kingdom European Communities membership referendum, EEC referendum, only to be rudely rebuffed.
Later career (1975–2001)For many years, Heath persisted in criticism of the party's new ideological direction. At the time of his defeat, he was still popular with rank-and-file Conservative members and was warmly applauded at the 1975 Conservative Party Conference. He played a leading role in the 1975 referendum campaign in which the UK voted to remain part of the EEC, and he remained active on the international stage, serving on the Willy Brandt, Brandt Commission investigation into developmental issues, particularly on North–South divide in the World, North–South projects (Brandt Report). His relations with Thatcher remained poor, and in 1979–80, he turned down her offers of the positions of Incumbent Ambassadors to the United States, Ambassador to the United States and Secretary General of NATO. He continued as a central figure on the left of the party and, at the 1981 Conservative Party conference, openly criticised the government's economic policy of monetarism, which had seen inflation rise from 13% in 1979 to 18% in 1980 then fall to 4% by 1983, but had seen unemployment double from around 1.5 million to a postwar high of 3.3 million during that time. In 1990, he flew to Baghdad to attempt to negotiate the release of aircraft passengers on British Airways Flight 149 and other British nationals taken hostage when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. After the events of Black Wednesday in 1992, he stated in the that government should build a fund of reserves to counter currency speculators. In 1987, he was nominated in the 1987 University of Oxford Chancellor election, election for the Chancellorship of the University of Oxford but lost to Roy Jenkins as a result of splitting the Conservative vote with Robert Blake, Baron Blake, Lord Blake. Heath continued to serve as a backbench MP for the London constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup (UK Parliament constituency), Old Bexley and Sidcup and was, from 1992, the longest-serving MP (" ") and the oldest British MP. As Father of the House, he oversaw the election of two Speaker (politics), Speakers of the Commons, Betty Boothroyd and Michael Martin, Baron Martin of Springburn, Michael Martin. Heath was created a Knight of the Garter on 23 April 1992. He retired from Parliament at the 2001 United Kingdom general election, 2001 general election. Heath and Tony Benn were the last two serving MPs to have been elected during the reign of George VI, with Heath serving continuously since 1950. Heath maintained business links with several companies including a Saudi think tank, two investment funds and a Chinese freight operator, mainly as an adviser on China or a member of the governing board. According to Chris Patten, the last Governor of Hong Kong, his commercial interests in China could have been one of the reasons why he denounced the democratic reforms introduced in the run-up to the handover of Hong Kong. Parliament broke with precedent by commissioning a bust of Heath while he was still alive. Commentators have noted how the statue of Margaret Thatcher appears to overshadow Heath's bust. The 1993 bronze work, by Martin Jennings, was moved to the Members' Lobby in 2002. On 29 April 2002, in his eighty-sixth year, he made a public appearance at Downing Street alongside the then–prime minister Tony Blair and the three other surviving former prime ministers at the time (James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher and John Major), as well as relatives of deceased prime ministers, for a dinner which was part of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II. This was to be one of his last public appearances, as the following year saw a decline in his health.
Illness and deathIn August 2003, at the age of 87, Heath suffered a pulmonary embolism while on holiday in Salzburg, Austria. He never fully recovered, and owing to his declining health and mobility made very few public appearances in the last two years of his life, his last one being at the unveiling of a set of gates at St Paul's Cathedral dedicated to Churchill on 30 November 2004. In his final public statement, Heath paid tribute to James Callaghan, who died on 26 March 2005, saying "James Callaghan was a major fixture in the political life of this country during his long and varied career. When in opposition he never hesitated to put firmly his party's case. When in office he took a smoother approach towards his supporters and opponents alike. Although he left the House of Commons in 1987 he continued to follow political life and it was always a pleasure to meet with him. We have lost a major figure from our political landscape". Sir Edward Heath died at his home from pneumonia at 7.30pm on 17 July 2005, at the age of 89. He was cremated on 25 July 2005 at a funeral service attended by 1,500 people. On the day after his death, the BBC Parliament channel showed the BBC results coverage of the 1970 election. A memorial service was held for Heath in Westminster Abbey on 8 November 2005, which was attended by 2,000 people. Three days later his ashes were interred in Salisbury Cathedral. In a tribute to him, the then–prime minister Tony Blair stated "He was a man of great integrity and beliefs he held firmly from which he never wavered".
Private residenceIn the 1960s, Heath had lived in the Albany (London), Albany, off Piccadilly; at the unexpected end of his premiership, the French couple living there refused his demand that they move out so that he could have his flat back ("So much for European Unity!" Heath later wrote in his memoirs). For four months, Heath took the flat of Conservative MP Timothy Kitson; Kitson declined his offer to pay rent but later recalled an occasion when his own watch broke, and Heath in response invited him to take one of a large collection that he had been given on his travels. In July 1974, Robert Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster, the Duke of Westminster, a major London landowner and ardent Europhile, allowed Heath to rent a property in Wilton Street, Belgravia, for an annual rent of £1,250 (just under £10,000 at 2014 prices), a tenth of the market value. The house had three storeys and a basement flat for Heath's housekeeper, and he continued to use it as his London home until old age prevented him from climbing the stairs. In February 1985, Heath acquired a Wiltshire home, Arundells, in the Cathedral close at Salisbury, where he resided until his death twenty years later. In January 2006, it was announced that Heath had placed his house and contents, valued at £5 million in his will, in a charitable foundation, the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, to conserve the house as a museum to his career. The house is open to the public for guided tours from March to October; displayed therein is a large collection of personal effects as well as Heath's personal library, photo collections, and paintings by Winston Churchill. In his will, Heath, who had no descendants, left only two legacies: £20,000 to his brother's widow, and £2,500 to his housekeeper.
YachtingHeath was a keen yachtsman. He bought his first yacht ''Morning Cloud'' in 1969 and won the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race that year. He captained Britain's winning team for the Admiral's Cup in 1971 – while prime minister – and also captained the team in the 1979 Fastnet race. He was a member of the Broadstairs Sailing Club, where he learnt to sail on a Snipe (dinghy), Snipe and a Fireball (dinghy), Fireball before moving on to success in larger boats.
Classical musicHeath maintained an interest in classical music as a pianist, organist and orchestral conductor, famously installing a Steinway & Sons, Steinway grand in 10 Downing Street, 10 Downing Street – bought with his £450 Charlemagne Prize money, awarded for his unsuccessful efforts to bring Britain into the EEC in 1963, and chosen on the advice of his friend, the pianist Moura Lympany – and conducting Christmas carol concerts in Broadstairs every year from his teens until old age. Heath often played the organ for services at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in his early years. Heath conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, notably at a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall in November 1971, at which he conducted Edward Elgar, Sir Edward Elgar's overture ''Cockaigne (In London Town)''. He also conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the English Chamber Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Germany and the United States. During his premiership, Heath invited musician friends, such as Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Clifford Curzon and the Amadeus Quartet, to perform either at Chequers or 10 Downing Street. Heath was the founding President of the European Community Youth Orchestra (in 1976), now the European Union Youth Orchestra. In 1988, Heath recorded Ludwig van Beethoven, Beethoven's Triple Concerto (Beethoven), Triple Concerto, Op. 56 (with members of the Trio Zingara as soloists) and Luigi Boccherini, Boccherini's Cello Concerto in G major, G480.
FootballHeath was a supporter of the Lancashire football club Burnley F.C., Burnley, and just after the end of his term as prime minister in 1974 he opened the £450,000 Bob Lord (football chairman), Bob Lord Stand at the club's Turf Moor stadium.
AuthorHeath wrote several books in the second half of the 1970s: ''Sailing'', ''Music'', and ''Travels''. He also compiled a collection of carols called ''The Joy of Christmas'', published in 1978 by Oxford University Press, which contained the music and lyrics to a wide variety of Christmas carols, each accompanied by a reproduction of a piece of religious art and a short introduction by Heath. Heath's autobiography, ''The Course of My Life'', appeared in 1998. According to his obituary in ''The Daily Telegraph'', this "had involved dozens of researchers and writers (some of whom he never paid) over many years".
"Grocer Heath"In 1964, despite substantial opposition from many Conservative MPs and independent grocers and shopkeepers, Heath led a successful fight to abolish resale price maintenance. ''Private Eye'', a satirical current affairs magazine, thereupon persistently ridiculed him as "Grocer Heath". The magazine also parodied him as the managing director of a struggling small company, "Heathco".
SexualityHeath never married. He had been expected to marry childhood friend Kay Raven, who reportedly tired of waiting and married an RAF officer whom she met on holiday in 1950. In a four-sentence paragraph of his memoirs, Heath claimed that he had been too busy establishing a career after the war and had "perhaps ... taken too much for granted". In a 1998 TV interview with Michael Cockerell, Heath said that he had kept her photograph in his flat for many years afterwards. His interest in music kept him on friendly terms with female musicians, including pianist Moura Lympany. When Heath was prime minister she was approached by the Conservative MP Tufton Beamish, Baron Chelwood, Tufton Beamish, who said: "Moura, Ted must get married. Will you marry him?" She said she would have done but was in love with someone else. She later said the most intimate thing Heath had done was to put his arm around her shoulder. Bernard Levin wrote at the time in ''The Observer'' that the UK had to wait until the emergence of the permissive society for a prime minister who was a virgin. In later life, according to his official biographer Philip Ziegler, at dinner parties Heath was "apt to relapse into morose silence or completely ignore the woman next to him and talk across her to the nearest man"; others at the time claimed Heath was just not talkative at parties. Heath's status as a bachelor led to speculations and rumours, some quite wild, about his private life. The public assumed that he was "queer", there were many innuendos in ''Private Eye'' about it, and homophobic chants could be heard outside Downing Street during protests by trade unionists against his Industrial Relations Bill. John Campbell, who published a biography of Heath in 1993, devoted four pages to a discussion of the evidence concerning Heath's sexuality. While acknowledging that Heath was often assumed by the public to be gay, not least because it is "nowadays ... whispered of any bachelor", he found "no positive evidence" that this was so "except for the faintest unsubstantiated rumour" (the footnote refers to a mention of a "disturbing incident" at the beginning of the in a 1972 biography by Andrew Roth). Campbell ultimately concluded that the most significant aspect of Heath's sexuality was his complete Psychological repression, repression of it. Brian Coleman, the Conservative Party London Assembly member for Barnet and Camden (London Assembly constituency), Barnet and Camden, claimed in 2007 that Heath, to protect his career, had stopped cottaging in the 1950s. Coleman said it was "common knowledge" among Conservatives that Heath had been given a stern warning by police when he underwent background checks for the post of privy councillor. Heath's biographer Philip Ziegler wrote in 2010 that Coleman was able to provide "little or no information" to back up this statement, that no man had ever claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Heath, nor was any trace of homosexuality to be found in his papers, and that "those who knew him well" insist that he had no such inclination. He believes Heath to have been asexuality, asexual, although he does mention a letter from one "Freddy", who seems hurt that "Teddie" had spurned his advances (Chapter 2 of his book). Robert Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Ilminster, Lord Armstrong of Ilminster, who was Heath's friend and former Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, private secretary, stated his belief that Heath was asexual, saying that he "never detected a whiff of sexuality in relation to men, women or children." Another friend and confidant, Sara Morrison, former Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party, said Heath had "effectively" told her "that he was sexless". Charles Moore (journalist), Charles Moore, in his authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, said that Bill Deedes believed that Thatcher "seem[ed] convinced" Heath was gay, whilst Moore believed it is "possible" that Thatcher's reference, in interview in 1974, to Heath not having a family, was a deliberate hint that he was gay, in order to discredit him. Thatcher certainly seems to have disliked Heath. "When I look at him and he looks at me," she once remarked, according to Ziegler (Chapter 4), "it doesn't feel like a man looking at a woman, more like a woman looking at another woman." When he moved to Arundells in 1985, Heath hired Derek Frost, life partner of Jeremy Norman, to modernise and redecorate the house in Salisbury. He became friends of sorts with the couple, in a typically stand-offish manner. When they asked Heath why he had not supported homosexual law reform (he was either absent from the debates in the 1960s or voted against Arthur Gore, 8th Earl of Arran, Lord Aran's first Bill in May 1965), he replied that he had always been in favour but that "the rank and file of the party would never have stood for it." Norman's view is that Heath was "a deeply closeted gay man" who "decided early in life to sublimate his sexuality to his political ambitions." In later life, Heath voted for the lowering of the age of same-sex consent to eighteen and then sixteen. Similarly, Michael McManus, who was Heath's private secretary in the 1990s and helped with his memoirs, writes in his book on gay conservative politicians that he "was left in no doubt whatsoever that Heath was a gay man who had sacrificed his personal life to his political career, exercising iron self-control and living a celibate existence as he climbed the 'greasy pole' of preferment."
Allegations of child sexual abuseIn April 2015, a rape claim against Heath was investigated by the Metropolitan Police but was dropped. In August 2015, several police forces were investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by Heath. Hampshire, Jersey, Kent, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Thames Valley constabularies and London's Metropolitan Police investigated such claims. It was reported that a man had claimed that at the age of 12 years he had been raped by Heath in a Mayfair flat in 1961, after he had run away from home. Allegations about Heath were investigated as part of Operation Midland, the Metropolitan Police inquiry into historical claims of child abuse and related homicides. A witness called "Nick" was introduced to the police by the former Exaro website, who had asked him about alleged child sexual abuse by prominent figures at the Dolphin Square apartment complex in Pimlico, London; Heath was reported to be one of the figures. In 2018 "Nick", whose real name is Carl Beech (Operation Midland), Carl Beech, was arrested and charged over child pornography offences and in January 2019 he pleaded guilty. Beech, who had fabricated allegations against Heath and other prominent politicians and civil servants, was sentenced in July 2019 to eighteen years in prison. Also in August 2015, Sky News reported that Jersey police were investigating allegations against Heath as part of Operation Whistle, and a similar investigation, Operation Conifer, was launched by Wiltshire Police at the same time. The Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, which operates the museum at Arundells, his home in Salisbury, said it welcomed the investigation. In November 2016, criminologist Richard Hoskins said that the evidence used against Heath in Operation Conifer, including discredited allegations of satanic ritual abuse, was "preposterous", "fantastical" and gained through the "controversial" practice of recovered-memory therapy. Operation Conifer was closed in March 2017, having cost a reported £1.5 million over two years, as no corroborating evidence had been found in any of the 42 allegations by 40 individuals (including three different names used by one person). In September 2017, it was announced that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse would review the police investigation into Heath. Police said that if Heath were still alive they would have interviewed him Right to silence in England and Wales, under caution in relation to seven out of the 42 allegations, but nothing should be inferred about his guilt or innocence. In his summary report, Chief Constable Mike Veale confirmed that "no further corroborative evidence was found" to support the satanic abuse claims.
HonoursEdward Heath received several accolades and honours.
Coat of armsHeath was granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms. The blazon is as follows:
Honorary degreesHeath was awarded many honorary degrees for his Service to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. These include:
Foreign honours* Bangladeshi honours system#Special Decorations, Bangladesh Liberation War Honour (Bangladesh Muktijuddho Sanmanona)
Books by Heath* * * * *
Biographies of Heath* Campbell, John. ''Edward Heath: A Biography''. London: Jonathan Cape, 1993. * Garnett, Mark. "Edward Heath, 1965–70 and 1974–75" in ''Leaders of the opposition: from Churchill to Cameron'' ed. by Timothy Heppell. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp 80–96. * Hennessey, Peter. ''The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders Since 1945'' (2001) pp. 331–356.
Politics and domestic policy* Ball, Stuart, and Anthony Seldon, eds. ''The Heath Government: 1970–1974: A Reappraisal'' (London: Longman, 1996) 423pp. * Beckett, Andy. ''When The Lights Went Out: What Really Happened to Britain in the Seventies'' (2010) * Blake, Robert. ''The Conservative Party from Peel to Major'' (Faber & Faber, 2012) pp. 299–220. * David Butler (psephologist), Butler, David E. et al. ''The British General Election of 1970'' (1971) * Butler, David E. et al. ''The British General Election of February 1974'' (1975) * Butler, David E. et al. ''The British General Election of October 1974'' (1975) * Cowley, Philip; Bailey, Matthew. "Peasants' Uprising or Religious War? Re-examining the 1975 Conservative Leadership Contest," ''British Journal of Political Science'' (2000) 30#4 pp. 599–63
Foreign and defence policy* Benvenuti, Andrea. "The Heath Government and British Defence Policy in Southeast Asia at the End of Empire (1970–71)," ''Twentieth Century British History'' 20#1 (2009), 53–73. * Brummer, Justin Adam. "Anglo-American relations and the EC enlargement, 1969–1974' (PhD dissertation, University College London, 2012
Historiography* Holmes, Martin. ''The Failure of the Heath Government '' (2nd ed. 1997