* Western Front
a. ^ Office vacant from 6 April 1955 to 13 July 1962.
ROBERT ANTHONY EDEN, 1ST EARL OF AVON, KG MC PC (12 June 1897 – 14
January 1977) was a British Conservative politician who served three
periods as Foreign Secretary and then a relatively brief term as Prime
Minister of the
Achieving rapid promotion as a young Member of Parliament, he was
Foreign Secretary at the age of 38, before resigning in protest at
Eden's worldwide reputation as an opponent of appeasement , a "Man of
Peace", and a skilled diplomat was overshadowed in 1956 when the
United States refused to support the Anglo-French military response to
Eden is generally ranked among the least successful British Prime
Ministers of the 20th century, although two broadly sympathetic
biographies (in 1986 and 2003) have gone some way to redressing the
balance of opinion.
D. R. Thorpe says the
* 1 Family
* 2 Early life
* 2.1 School
First World War
* 3 Early political career, 1922–1931
* 3.1 1922–1924 * 3.2 1924–1929 * 3.3 1929–1931
* 4 Foreign Affairs Minister, 1931–1935 * 5 Foreign Secretary and resignation (1935–1938) * 6 Second World War
* 7 Post-war, 1945–1955
* 7.1 In opposition (1945–1951) * 7.2 Return to government, 1951–1955
* 8 Prime Minister (1955–1957)
* 8.1 Suez (1956)
* 8.1.1 1957 resignation * 8.1.2 Suez in retrospect
* 8.2 Britain–France rejected plan for union
* 9 Retirement
* 9.1 Memoirs
* 10 Personal life
* 10.1 Relationships * 10.2 Problems with health
* 11 Final illness and death * 12 Styles of address * 13 Character, speaking style and assessments * 14 Cultural depictions * 15 Cabinet (1955–1957) * 16 Ancestry * 17 Memoirs * 18 References * 19 Bibliography * 20 External links
Eden was born at
Eden's mother, Sybil Frances Grey, was a member of the famous Grey
Eden's great-grandfather was William Iremonger who commanded the 2nd
Regiment of Foot during the
There was speculation for many years that Eden's biological father was the politician and man of letters George Wyndham , but this is considered impossible as Wyndham was in South Africa at the time of Eden's conception. His mother was rumoured to have had an affair with Wyndham. Eden had an elder brother called John, who was killed in action in 1914 and a younger brother, Nicholas, who was killed when the battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable blew up and sank at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Eden was educated at two independent schools. The first was Sandroyd
School in Cobham from 1907 to 1910, where he swam poorly but excelled
in languages. He then started at
Eden learned French and German on continental holidays and, at one stage, as a child spoke French better than English. Although he was fluent in French and German and able to converse with the Chinese premier Chou En-lai in French at Geneva in 1954, out of a sense of professionalism, he normally preferred to have diplomats present to translate at meetings, e.g. when he met Hitler in February 1934.
Although Eden later claimed to have had no interest in politics until the early 1920s, his teenage letters and diaries show him to have been obsessed with the subject. He was a strong, partisan Conservative, rejoicing in the defeat of Charles Masterman at a by-election (May 1913) and once astonishing his mother on a train journey by telling her the MP and the size of his majority for each constituency through which they passed. By 1914 he was a member of the Eton Society (“Pop”).
FIRST WORLD WAR
First World War
Eden served with the 21st (Yeoman Rifles) Battalion of the King\'s Royal Rifle Corps , a unit initially recruited mainly from County Durham country labourers, who were increasingly replaced by Londoners after losses at the Somme. He was commissioned a temporary second lieutenant on 2 November 1915 (antedated to 29 September 1915). His battalion transferred to France on 4 May 1916 as part of 41st Division . In 1916 Eden's younger brother Nicholas was killed at Jutland and his brother-in-law Lord Brooke wounded.
One summer night in 1916, near
Eden's MC was gazetted in the
1917 Birthday Honours
On 19 November, he was transferred to the General Staff as a GSO 3,
with the temporary rank of captain . He served at Second Army HQ,
missing out on service in Italy , as 41st Division was in Italy, after
the disastrous Italian defeat at the
Battle of Caporetto
In March 1918, during the German Spring Offensive, he was stationed
near La Fere on the Oise, opposite
He considered standing for Parliament at the end of the war, but the general election was called too early for this to be possible. After the Armistice, he spent the winter of 1918–19 in the Ardennes with his brigade and on 28 March 1919 he transferred to be brigade major of 99th Infantry Brigade. Eden contemplated applying for a regular commission, but they were very hard to come by with the Army contracting so rapidly. He initially shrugged off his mother’s suggestion of studying at Oxford. He also rejected the thought of becoming a barrister ; his preferred career alternatives at this stage were standing for Parliament for Bishop Auckland, the Civil Service in East Africa, or the Foreign Office. He was demobilised on 13 June 1919. He retained the rank of captain.
The Uffizi Society Oxford, ca. 1920. First row standing: later
Sir Henry Studholme (5th from left). Seated: Lord Balniel, later 28th
Earl of Crawford (2nd from left); Ralph Dutton, later 8th Baron
Sherborne (3rd from left); Anthony Eden, later
Earl of Avon
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 , starting in October 1919. Persian was his main, and Arabic his secondary, language. He studied under Richard Paset Dewhurst and David Samuel Margoliouth .
At Oxford, Eden took no part in student politics, and his main leisure interest at the time was art. Eden was in the Oxford University Dramatic Society and President of the Asiatic Society. Along with Lord David Cecil and R. E. Gathorne-Hardy he founded the Uffizi Society, of which he later became President. Possibly under the influence of his father he gave a paper on Cézanne , whose work was then not yet widely appreciated. Eden was already collecting paintings.
In July 1920, whilst still an undergraduate, Eden was recalled to military service as a lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry . In the spring of 1921, once again as a temporary captain, he commanded local defence forces at Spennymoor as serious industrial unrest seemed possible. He again relinquished his commission on 8 July. He graduated from Oxford in June 1922 with a Double First . He continued to serve as an officer in the Territorial Army until May 1923.
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER, 1922–1931
Captain Eden, as he was still known, was selected to contest Spennymoor , as a Conservative . At first he had hoped to win (with some Liberal support as the Conservatives were still supporting Lloyd George's coalition government) but by the time of the November 1922 general election it was clear that the surge in the Labour vote made this unlikely. His main sponsor was the Marquess of Londonderry , a local coalowner. The seat went from Liberal to Labour.
Eden’s father had died on 20 February 1915. As a younger son, he had inherited capital of £7,675 and in 1922 he had a private income of £706 after tax (approximately £375,000 and £35,000 at 2014 prices).
Eden read the writings of Lord Curzon and was hoping to emulate him by entering politics with a view to specialising in foreign affairs. Eden married Beatrice Beckett in the autumn of 1923, and after a two-day honeymoon in Essex, he was selected to fight Warwick and Leamington for a by-election in November 1923. On 16 November 1923, during the by-election campaign, Parliament was dissolved for the December 1923 general election . He was elected to Parliament at the age of twenty-six.
The first Labour Government, under
The Conservatives returned to power at the 1924 General Election . In
January 1925 Eden, disappointed not to have been offered a position,
went on a tour of the Middle East, meeting Emir Feisal of
He was appointed
Parliamentary Private Secretary
Eden continued to be PPS to Locker-Lampson when the latter was
appointed Under-Secretary at the
Foreign Office in December 1925. He
distinguished himself with a speech on the
Besides supplementing his parliamentary income (around £300 a year at that time) by writing and journalism, in 1926 he published a book about his travels, Places in the Sun, highly critical of the detrimental effect of socialism on Australia, and to which Stanley Baldwin wrote a foreword.
In November 1928, with
The 1929 General Election was the only time Eden received less than
50% of the vote at Warwick. After the Conservative defeat he joined a
progressive group of younger politicians consisting of Oliver Stanley
, William Ormsby-Gore and the future Speaker W.S. “Shakes”
Morrison . Another member was
In opposition between 1929 and 1931 Eden worked as a City broker for
Harry Lucas (a firm eventually absorbed into S. G. Warburg not only
can he make a good speech but he has a good head and what advice he
gives is listened to by the Cabinet” Eden later wrote that in the
early 1930s the word “appeasement” was still used in its correct
sense (from the
Oxford English Dictionary
In December 1933 he was appointed
Lord Privy Seal
At this stage in his career, Eden was considered as something of a leader of fashion. He regularly wore a Homburg hat (similar to a trilby but more rigid), which became known in Britain as an "Anthony Eden ".
FOREIGN SECRETARY AND RESIGNATION (1935–1938)
Eden became Foreign Secretary at a time when Britain was having to
adjust its foreign policy to face the rise of the fascist powers. He
supported the policy of non-interference in the Spanish Civil War
through conferences like the
Nyon Conference and supported prime
His resignation in February 1938 was largely attributed to growing
dissatisfaction with Chamberlain\'s policy of appeasement. That is,
however, disputed by new research; it was not the question if there
should be negotiations with Italy, but only when they should start and
how far they should be carried. Similarly, he at no point registered
his dissatisfaction with the appeasement policy directed towards Nazi
Germany in his period as Foreign Secretary. He became a Conservative
dissenter leading a group conservative whip
David Margesson called the
"Glamour Boys," and a leading anti-appeaser like
Although Churchill claimed to have lost sleep the night of Eden's resignation, they were not allies and did not see eye-to-eye until Churchill became Prime Minister. Churchill maintained that and detailed how Eden resigned over Chamberlain's affront to Roosevelt, who had offered earlier in February to mediate the growing dispute in Europe. There was much speculation that Eden would become a rallying point for all the disparate opponents of Neville Chamberlain, but his position declined heavily amongst politicians as he maintained a low profile, avoiding confrontation, though he opposed the Munich Agreement and abstained in the vote on it in the House of Commons. However, he remained popular in the country at large, and in later years was often wrongly supposed to have resigned as Foreign Secretary in protest at the Munich Agreement.
In a 1967 interview, Eden explained his decision to resign: "It was not over protocol, Chamberlain's communicating with Mussolini without telling me. I never cared a goddamn, a tuppence about protocol. The reason for my resignation was that we had an agreement with Mussolini about the Mediterranean and Spain, which he was violating by sending troops to Spain, and Chamberlain wanted to have another agreement. I thought Mussolini should honour the first one before we negotiated for the second. I was trying to fight a delaying action for Britain, and I could not go along with Chamberlain's policy."
SECOND WORLD WAR
Eden with Mackenzie King and
During the last months of peace in 1939, Eden joined the Territorial Army with the rank of major, in the London Rangers motorized battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps and was at annual camp with them in Beaulieu, Hampshire when he heard news of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact .
On the outbreak of war (3 September 1939) Eden, unlike most Territorials, did not mobilise for active service. Instead, he returned to Chamberlain's government as Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs , but was not in the War Cabinet . As a result, he was not a candidate for the Premiership when Chamberlain resigned in May 1940 after the Narvik Debate and Churchill became Prime Minister. Churchill appointed Eden Secretary of State for War .
At the end of 1940 Eden returned to the
Foreign Office , and in this
role became a member of the executive committee of the Political
Warfare Executive in 1941. Although he was one of Churchill's closest
confidants, his role in wartime was restricted because Churchill
conducted the most important negotiations, with Franklin D. Roosevelt
Nevertheless, he was in charge of handling most of the relations between Britain and Free French leader de Gaulle during the last years of the war. Eden was often critical of the emphasis Churchill put on the Special Relationship with the United States and was often disappointed by American treatment of their British allies.
In 1942 Eden was given the additional role of Leader of the House of
Commons . He was considered for various other major jobs during and
after the war, including Commander-in-Chief
In early 1943 Eden blocked a request from the Bulgarian authorities to aid with deporting part of the Jewish population from newly acquired Bulgarian territories to British-controlled Palestine. After his refusal, some of those people were transported to concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Poland.
In 1944 Eden went to Moscow to negotiate with the Soviet Union at the
Tolstoy Conference . Eden also opposed the
Morgenthau Plan to
deindustrialise Germany. After the
Stalag Luft III murders
Eden's eldest son,
In 1945 he was mentioned by
Halvdan Koht among seven candidates who
were qualified for the
Nobel Prize in Peace
IN OPPOSITION (1945–1951)
After the Labour Party won the 1945 election, Eden went into
opposition as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party . Many felt that
Churchill should have retired and allowed Eden to become party leader,
but Churchill refused to consider this. As early as the spring of
1946, Eden openly asked Churchill to retire in his favour. He was in
any case depressed during this period by the break-up of his first
marriage and the death of his eldest son. Churchill was in many ways
only "part-time Leader of the Opposition", given his many journeys
abroad and his literary work, and left the day-to-day work largely to
Eden. Eden was largely regarded as lacking sense of party politics and
contact with the common man. In these opposition years, however, he
developed some knowledge about domestic affairs and created the idea
of a "property-owning-democracy", which
RETURN TO GOVERNMENT, 1951–1955
In 1951 the Conservatives returned to office and Eden became Foreign
Secretary for a third time, though not "Deputy Prime Minister"
(Churchill gave him this title in the first list of ministers
submitted to the King, but the King forbade it on the grounds that
this "office" is unknown to the Constitution). Churchill was largely a
figurehead in this government, and Eden had effective control of
British foreign policy for the second time, as the Empire declined and
Eden’s biographer Richard Lamb said that Eden bullied Churchill into going back on commitments to European unity made in opposition. The truth appears to be more complex. Britain was still a world power, or at least trying to be, in 1945–55, with the concept of sovereignty not as discredited as on the continent. The USA encouraged moves towards European federalism as it wanted to withdraw US troops and get the Germans rearmed under supervision. Eden was less Atlanticist than Churchill and had little time for European federalism. He wanted firm alliances with France and other Western European powers to contain Germany. Half of British trade at that time was with the sterling area, and only a quarter with Western Europe. Despite later talk of "lost opportunities", even Macmillan, who had been an active member of the "European Movement" after the war, acknowledged in February 1952 that Britain’s relationship with the USA and the Commonwealth would prevent her from joining a federal Europe at that time. Eden was also irritated by Churchill's hankering for a summit meeting with the USSR, during the period in 1953 after Stalin's death and whilst Eden was seriously ill from a botched bile duct operation.
Despite the ending of the
Eden had grave misgivings about American foreign policy under
Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles and President Dwight D.
Eisenhower . Eisenhower was concerned, as early as March 1953, at the
escalating costs of defence and the increase of state power which this
would bring. Eden was irked by Dulles's policy of "brinkmanship", or
display of muscle, in relations with the Communist world. The success
of the 1954 Geneva Conference on Indo-China ranks as the outstanding
achievement of his third term in the
Foreign Office , although he was
critical of the United States decision not to sign the accord. During
the summer and fall of 1954, the Anglo-Egyptian agreement to withdraw
all British forces from
There were concerns that if the EDC was not ratified as they wanted, the US Republican Administration might withdraw into defending only the Western Hemisphere (although recent documentary evidence confirms that the US intended to withdraw troops from Europe anyway if the EDC was ratified). After the French Assembly rejected the EDC in September 1954, Eden tried to come up with a viable alternative. Between 11 and 17 September he visited every major West European capital, to negotiate West Germany becoming a sovereign state and entering the Brussels pact prior to entering NATO. Paul-Henri Spaak said he “saved the Atlantic alliance”.
In 1954 he was appointed to the
Order of the Garter
PRIME MINISTER (1955–1957)
In April 1955 Churchill finally retired, and Eden succeeded him as Prime Minister. He was a very popular figure as a result of his long wartime service and his famous good looks and charm. His famous words "Peace comes first, always" added to his already substantial popularity.
On taking office, he immediately called a general election for 26 May 1955, at which he increased the Conservative majority from seventeen to sixty, an increase in majority that broke a ninety-year record for any UK government. The 1955 general election was the last in which the Conservatives won the majority share of the votes in Scotland. However, Eden had never held a domestic portfolio and had little experience in economic matters. He left these areas to his lieutenants such as Rab Butler , and concentrated largely on foreign policy, forming a close relationship with US President Dwight Eisenhower. Eden's attempts to maintain overall control of the Foreign Office drew widespread criticism.
Eden has the distinction of being the British prime minister to oversee the lowest unemployment figures of the post-World War II era, with unemployment standing at just over 215,000—barely one per cent of the workforce—in July 1955.
The alliance with the US proved not universal, however, when in July
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Eden, drawing on his experience in the 1930s, saw Nasser as another
Mussolini , considering the two men aggressive nationalist socialists
determined to invade other countries. Others believed that Nasser was
acting from legitimate patriotic concerns and the nationalisation was
determined by the
Foreign Office to be deliberately provocative but
not illegal. The Attorney General, Sir
Reginald Manningham-Buller ,
was not asked for his opinion officially but made his view that the
government's contemplated armed strike against
Anthony Nutting recalled that Eden told him, "What's all this nonsense about isolating Nasser or 'neutralising' him as you call it? I want him destroyed, can't you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office 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 damn if there's anarchy and chaos in Egypt." At a private meeting at Downing Street on 16 October 1956 Eden showed several ministers a plan, submitted two days earlier by the French. Israel would invade Egypt, Britain and France would give an ultimatum telling both sides to stop and, when one refused, send in forces to enforce the ultimatum, separate the two sides – and occupy the Canal and get rid of Nasser. When Nutting suggested the Americans should be consulted Eden replied, "I will not bring the Americans into this ... Dulles has done enough damage as it is. This has nothing to do with the Americans. We and the French must decide what to do and we alone." Eden openly admitted his view of the crisis was shaped by his experiences in the two world wars, writing, "We are all marked to some extent by the stamp of our generation, mine is that of the assassination in Sarajevo and all that flowed from it. It is impossible to read the record now and not feel that we had a responsibility for always being a lap behind ... Always a lap behind, a fatal lap."
There was no question of an immediate military response to the crisis
– Cyprus had no deep-water harbours, which meant that Malta, several
days' sailing from Egypt, would have to be the main concentration
point for an invasion fleet if the Libyan government would not permit
a land invasion from its territory. Eden initially considered using
British forces in the
Kingdom of Libya to regain the Canal, but then
decided this risked inflaming Arab opinion. Unlike the French prime
Eden believed that if Nasser were seen to get away with seizing the
On 25 September 1956, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Israel invaded the Sinai peninsula at the end of October 1956. Britain and France moved in ostensibly to separate the two sides and bring 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 out for Britain's position.
Eden, who faced domestic pressure from his party to take action, as
well as stopping the decline of British influence in the Middle East,
had ignored Britain's financial dependence on the US in the wake of
the Second World War, and had assumed the US would automatically
endorse whatever action taken by its closest ally. At the 'Law not
War' rally in
Trafalgar Square on 4 November 1956, Eden was ridiculed
In his 1987 book
Peter Wright said that, following the
imposed ending to the military operation, Eden reactivated the
assassination option for a second time. By this time virtually all MI6
Suez damaged Eden's reputation for statesmanship, in many eyes, and
led to a breakdown in his health. He went on vacation to
The Observer newspaper accused Eden of lying to Parliament over the
Suez Crisis, while MPs from all parties criticised his calling a
ceasefire before the Canal was taken. Churchill, while publicly
supportive of Eden's actions, privately criticised his successor for
not seeing the military operation through to its conclusion. Eden
easily survived a vote of confidence in the
House of Commons
While Eden was on holiday in Jamaica, other members of the government discussed on 20 November how to counter charges that the UK and France had worked in collusion with Israel to seize the Canal, but decided there was very little evidence in the public domain.
On his return from
On his return to the
House of Commons
Eden suffered another fever at Chequers over Christmas, but was still
talking of going on an official trip to the USSR in April 1957,
wanting a full inquiry into the
Crabb affair and badgering Lord
First Lord of the Admiralty
Eden resigned on 9 January 1957, after his doctors warned him his
life was at stake if he continued in office.
John Charmley writes
"Ill-health ... provide(d) a dignified reason for an action (i.e..
resignation) which would, in any event, have been necessary."
Rothwell writes that “mystery persists” over exactly how Eden was
persuaded to resign, although the limited evidence suggests that
Butler, who was expected to succeed him as Prime Minister, was at the
centre of the intrigue. Rothwell writes that Eden’s fevers were
“nasty but brief and not life-threatening” and that there may have
been “manipulation of medical evidence” to make Eden’s health
seem “even worse” than it was. Macmillan wrote in his diary that
“nature had provided a real health reason” when a “diplomatic
illness” might otherwise have had to be invented. David Carlton
(1981) even suggested that the Palace might have been involved, a
suggestion discussed by Rothwell. As early as spring 1954 Eden had
been indifferent to cultivating good relations with the new Queen.
Eden is known to have favoured a Japanese or Scandinavian style
monarchy (i.e. with no involvement in politics whatsoever) and in
January 1956 he had insisted that
Although the media expected Butler would get the nod as Eden's successor, a survey of the Cabinet taken for the Queen showed Macmillan was the nearly unanimous choice, and he became Prime Minister on 10 January 1957. Shortly afterwards Eden and his wife left England for a holiday in New Zealand.
Suez In Retrospect
AJP Taylor wrote in the 1970s: “Eden … destroyed (his reputation as a peacemaker) and led Great Britain to one of the greatest humiliations in her history … (he) seemed to take on a new personality. He acted impatiently and on impulse. Previously flexible he now relied on dogma, denouncing Nasser as a second Hitler. Though he claimed to be upholding international law, he in fact disregarded the United Nations Organisation which he had helped to create … The outcome was pathetic rather than tragic”.
Thorpe has summarised Eden's central role in the
Eden's policy had four main aims: first, to secure the Suez Canal; second and consequentially, to ensure continuity of oil supplies; third, to remove Nasser; and fourth, to keep the Russians out of the Middle East. The immediate consequence of the crisis was that the Suez Canal was blocked, oil supplies were interrupted, Nasser's position as the leader of Arab nationalism was strengthened, and the way was left open for Russian intrusion into the Middle East.
Michael Foot pushed for a special inquiry along the lines of the
Parliamentary Inquiry into the Attack on the Dardanelles in the First
World War, although
Guy Millard , one of Eden's Private Secretaries, who thirty years
later, in a radio interview, spoke publicly for the first time on the
crisis, made an insider's judgement about Eden: "It was his mistake of
course and a tragic and disastrous mistake for him. I think he
overestimated the importance of Nasser,
Rothwell believes that Eden should have cancelled the Suez Invasion plans in mid-October, when the Anglo-French negotiations at the United Nations were making some headway, and that in 1956 the Arab countries threw away a chance to make peace with Israel on her existing borders.
BRITAIN–FRANCE REJECTED PLAN FOR UNION
British Government cabinet papers from September 1956, during Eden's
term as Prime Minister, have shown that French Prime Minister Guy
Mollet approached the British Government suggesting the idea of an
economic and political union between France and Great Britain . This
was a similar offer, in reverse, to that made by Churchill (drawing on
a plan devised by
The offer by
Eden resigned from the
House of Commons
In retirement Eden lived in 'Rose Bower' by the banks of the River Ebble in Broad Chalke , Wiltshire. Starting in 1961 he bred a herd of sixty Herefordshire cattle (one of whom was called “Churchill”) until a further decline in his health forced him to sell them in 1975.
In July 1962 Eden made front page news by commenting that “Mr Selwyn Lloyd has been horribly treated” when the latter was dismissed as Chancellor in the reshuffle known as the “Night of the Long Knives ”. In August 1962, at a dinner party, he had a “slanging match” with Nigel Birch , who as Secretary of State for Air had not wholeheartedly supported the Suez Invasion. In 1963 Eden initially favoured Hailsham for the Conservative leadership but then supported Home as a compromise candidate.
From 1945 to 1973, Eden was Chancellor of the University of Birmingham , England. In a television interview in 1966 he called on the United States to halt its bombing of North Vietnam to concentrate on developing a peace plan "that might conceivably be acceptable to Hanoi." The bombing of North Vietnam, he argued, would never settle the conflict in South Vietnam. "On the contrary," he declared, "bombing creates a sort of David and Goliath complex in any country that has to suffer—as we had to, and as I suspect the Germans had to, in the last war." Eden sat for extensive interviews for the famed multi-part Thames Television production, The World at War , which was first broadcast in 1973. He also featured frequently in Marcel Ophüls ' 1969 documentary Le chagrin et la pitié , discussing the occupation of France in a wider geopolitical context. He spoke impeccable, if accented, French.
Eden's occasional articles and his early 1970s television appearance
were an exception to an almost total retirement. He seldom appeared
in public, unlike other former Prime Ministers, e.g. James Callaghan
who commented frequently on current affairs. He was even accidentally
omitted from a list of Conservative Prime Ministers by Margaret
Thatcher when she became Conservative Leader in 1975, although she
later went out of her way to establish relations with Eden and, later,
his widow. In retirement he was highly critical of regimes such as
In retirement Eden corresponded with Selwyn Lloyd, coordinating the release of information and with which writers they would agree to speak and when. Rumours that Britain had colluded with France and Israel appeared, albeit in garbled form, as early as 1957. By the 1970s they had agreed that Lloyd would only tell his version of the story after Eden’s death (in the event, Lloyd would outlive Eden by a year, struggling with terminal illness to complete his own memoirs).
In retirement Eden was particularly bitter that Eisenhower had initially indicated British and French troops should be allowed to remain around Port Said, only for the US ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr to press for an immediate withdrawal at the UN, thereby rendering the operation a complete failure. Eden felt the Eisenhower administration's unexpected opposition was hypocritical in light of the 1953 Iranian coup d\'état and the 1954 Guatemalan coup d\'état .
Eden published three volumes of political memoirs, in which he denied that there had been any collusion with France and Israel. Like Churchill, Eden relied heavily on the ghost-writing of young researchers, whose drafts he would sometimes toss angrily into the flowerbeds outside his study. One of them was the young David Dilks .
In his view, American Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles , whom he
particularly disliked, was responsible for the ill fate of the Suez
adventure. In an October press conference, barely three weeks before
the fighting began, Dulles had coupled the
Eden faulted the United States for forcing him to withdraw, but he took credit for United Nations action in patrolling the Israeli-Egyptian borders. Eden said of the invasion, "Peace at any price has never averted war. We must not repeat the mistakes of the pre-war years, by behaving as though the enemies of peace and order are armed with only good intentions." Recalling the incident in a 1967 interview, he declared, "I am still unrepentant 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 such things. I don't see what other we ought to have done. One cannot dodge. It is hard to act rather than dodge." In his 1967 interview (which he stipulated would not be used until after his death), Eden acknowledged secret dealings with the French and "intimations" of the Israeli attack. He insisted, however, that "the joint enterprise and the preparations for it were justified in the light of the wrongs it was designed to prevent." "I have no apologies to offer," Eden declared.
At the time of his retirement, Eden had been short of money, although
he was paid a £100,000 advance for his memoirs by
On 5 November 1923, shortly before his election to Parliament, he married Beatrice Beckett , then aged only 18. They had three sons: Simon (1924–1945), Robert, who died fifteen minutes after being born in October 1928, and Nicholas (1930–1985).
The marriage was not a success, with both parties apparently conducting affairs. By the mid-1930s his diaries seldom mention Beatrice. The marriage finally broke up under the strain of the loss of their son Simon, who was killed in action with the RAF in Burma in 1945. His plane was reported "missing in action" on 23 June and found on 16 July; Eden did not want the news to be public until after the election on 5 July, to avoid claims of "making political capital" from it.
Between 1946 and 1950, whilst separated from his wife, Eden conducted an open affair with Dorothy, Countess Beatty, the wife of David, Earl Beatty .
Eden was the great-great-grandnephew of author Emily Eden and in 1947 wrote an introduction to her novel The Semi-Attached Couple (1860).
In 1950, Eden and Beatrice were finally divorced, and in 1952, he married Churchill's niece Clarissa Spencer-Churchill , a nominal Roman Catholic who was fiercely criticised by Catholic writer Evelyn Waugh for marrying a divorced man. Eden's second marriage was much more successful than his first had been.
PROBLEMS WITH HEALTH
Eden had an ulcer, exacerbated by overwork, as early as the 1920s. His life was changed by a medical mishap: during an operation on 12 April 1953, to remove gallstones , his bile duct was damaged, leaving Eden susceptible to recurrent infections, biliary obstruction, and liver failure. He suffered from cholangitis , an abdominal infection which became so agonising that he was admitted to hospital in 1956 with a temperature reaching 106 °F (41 °C). He required major surgery on three occasions to alleviate the problem.
He was also prescribed Benzedrine , the wonder drug of the 1950s. Regarded then as a harmless stimulant , it belongs to the family of drugs called amphetamines , and at that time they were prescribed and used in a very casual way. Among the side effects of Benzedrine are insomnia , restlessness, and mood swings, all of which Eden suffered during the Suez Crisis; indeed, earlier in his premiership he complained of being kept awake at night by the sound of motor scooters. Eden's drug use is now commonly agreed to have been a part of the reason for his bad judgment while Prime Minister.
In November 2006, private papers uncovered in the Eden family archives disclosed that Eden had been prescribed a powerful combination of amphetamines and barbiturates called drinamyl . Better known in post-war Britain as "purple hearts", the drug can impair judgement, cause paranoia, and even make the person taking them lose contact with reality. Drinamyl was banned in 1978.
FINAL ILLNESS AND DEATH
Tomb in Alvediston
In December 1976, Eden felt well enough to travel with his wife to
the United States to spend Christmas and New Year with Averell and
Pamela Harriman , but after reaching the States his health rapidly
deteriorated. Prime Minister
Eden died from liver cancer in
He was buried in St Mary's churchyard at
Alvediston , just three
miles upstream from 'Rose Bower', at the source of the River Ebble.
Eden's papers are housed at the
University of Birmingham
At his death, Eden was the last surviving member of Churchill's War Cabinet . Eden's surviving son, Nicholas Eden (1930–1985), known as Viscount Eden from 1961 to 1977, was also a politician and a minister in the Thatcher government until his premature death from AIDS at the age of 54.
STYLES OF ADDRESS
* 1897–1916: Mr. Anthony Eden
* 1916–1923: Mr.
CHARACTER, SPEAKING STYLE AND ASSESSMENTS
Eden, who was well-mannered, well-groomed, and good-looking, always made a particularly cultured appearance. This gave him huge popular support throughout his political life, but some contemporaries felt he was merely a superficial person lacking any deeper convictions.
That view was enforced by his very pragmatic approach to politics.
Sir Oswald Mosley , for example, said he never understood why Eden was
so strongly pushed by the
US Secretary of State
Eden was heavily influenced by
Stanley Baldwin when he first entered
Parliament. After earlier combative beginnings, he cultivated a
low-key speaking style which relied heavily on rational argument and
consensus-building rather than rhetoric and party point-scoring, and
which was often highly effective in the
House of Commons
Eden's inability to express himself clearly is often attributed to shyness and lack of self-confidence. Eden is known to have been much more direct in meeting with his secretaries and advisers than in Cabinet meetings and public speeches, and sometimes tended to become enraged and behave "like a child", only to regain his temper within a few minutes. Many who worked for him remarked that he was “two men”, one charming, erudite, and hard-working, the other petty and prone to temper tantrums during which he would insult his subordinates.
As Prime Minister, Eden was notorious for telephoning ministers and newspaper editors from 6 am onwards. Rothwell writes that even before Suez, the telephone had become "a drug" and that “During the Suez Crisis Eden's telephone mania exceeded all bounds”.
Eden was notoriously “unclubbable” and offended Churchill by
declining to join
The Other Club
Rothwell writes that although Eden was capable of acting with ruthlessness; for instance, over the repatriation of the Cossacks in 1945, his main concern was to avoid being seen as "an appeaser" or over the Soviet reluctance to accept a democratic Poland in October 1944. Like many people, Eden persuaded himself that his past actions were more consistent than they had in fact been.
Recent biographies put more emphasis on Eden's achievements in foreign policy and perceive him to have held deep convictions regarding world peace and security as well as a strong social conscience. Rhodes James applies to Eden Churchill’s famous verdict on Lord Curzon (in Great Contemporaries ): “The morning had been golden; the noontime was bronze; and the evening lead. But all was solid, and each was polished until it shone after its fashion”.
Further information: Cultural depictions of British prime ministers
ANCESTORS OF ANTHONY EDEN
16. Sir Robert Eden, 1st
8. Sir Frederick Morton Eden, 2nd
17. Hon. Caroline Calvert
4. Sir William Eden, 6th
18. Joshua Paul Smith
9. Anne Smith
2. Sir William Eden, 7th
20. Joshua Iremonger
10. Lt.-Col. William Iremonger
21. Anne Dussaux
5. Elfrieda Susanna Harriet Iremonger
22. Rhys Thomas
11. Pennant Thomas
23. Margaret Lloyd
1. ROBERT ANTHONY EDEN
24. Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey
12. Rt. Rev. Hon. Edward Grey
25. Elizabeth Grey
6. Sir William Grey
26. James WoodcockCroft
13. Charlotte Elizabeth Croft
27. Elizabeth Charlotte Croft
3. Sibyl Frances Grey
14. Trevor Chicheley Plowden
7. Georgina Chicheley Plowden
30. Aquarius Wilhelm, Friherre Schaffalitzky de Muckadell
15. Frances Wilhelmine Schaffalitzky de Muckadell
31. Francis Ranken
* Another World. London. Doubleday, 1976. Covers early life. * The Eden Memoirs: Facing the Dictators. London. Casell, 1962. Covers early career and first period as Foreign Secretary, to 1938. * The Eden Memoirs: the Reckoning. London. Casell, 1965. Covers 1938–1945. * The Eden Memoirs: Full Circle. London. Casell, 1960. Covers postwar career.
* ^ As Territorial, pre-outbreak of World War II.
* ^ 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.
* ^ A B C D E Churchill 1948
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K David Dutton: Anthony Eden. A Life and
Reputation (London, Arnold, 1997).
* ^ Tony Shaw, Eden, Suez & the Mass Media: Propaganda & Persuasion
* ^ "Record from The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in
* Aster, Sidney (1976). Anthony Eden. London: St Martin's Press.
ISBN 978-0-312-04235-6 .
* Carlton, David (1981). Anthony Eden, a Biography. London: Hodder &
Stoughton . ISBN 978-0-713-90829-9 .
* Churchill, Winston S. (1948). The Gathering Storm. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Co.
* Dutton, David. Anthony Eden: a life and reputation (1997)
* Charmley, John (1996). Churchill's Grand Alliance: The
Special Relationship 1940–57. London: Hodder &
Stoughton . ISBN 978-0-340-59760-6 .
* Thorpe, D.R. Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, 1897–1977. London: Chatto and Windus, 2003 ISBN 0-7126-6505-6 ). detailed scholarly biography
* Jay, Peter. Review of the above The Guardian 22 March 2003.
* Thorpe, D. R. (2010). Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-1844135417 .
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