Home / News / World /  Winston Churchill to Liz Truss: A look at 14 PMs appointed by Queen Elizabeth II

Mary Elizabeth Truss, popularly known as Liz Truss won against Rishi Sunak to become the 15th Prime Minister of the UK under the reign of 96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II.

A total of 79 Prime Ministers have governed the country since 1721. Out of them, a total of 14 had completed their tenure under Queen Elizabeth. Liz Truss will be the 15th on the list and 3rd woman.

Born in 1926, Queen Elizabeth is the longest reigning Monarch ever in Britain. From Winston Churchill to the ‘Iron lady’, she has crowned some of the most significant or the most controversial Prime Ministers of the UK. Know all about them here.

Winston Churchill (1951-55)

Winston Churchill was the first Prime Minister of the UK who served under Queen Elizabeth between 1951 to 1955. However, he was known for his historical contributions to World War II during his first tenure as the Prime Minister between 1940-1945 under King George VI. At the time of crisis when then current PM Neville Chamberlain resigned, Winston Churchill held the position of PM for the first time after making a coalition with the Labour, Liberal and Conservative parties. He was the man behind the grand alliance with Russia and America against Germany in the war. During his second term, he focused mainly on building Anglo-American relations and working to maintain the strength of the British Empire.

Anthony Eden (1955-57)

Anthony Eden held the position of the next PM in April 1955. However, the second PM under the reign of Queen Elizabeth saw a decline in his popularity as his opinion poll approval ratings fell from 70% to 40% in a year. His Suez Canal conspiracy led to his downfall in the coming years. After the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by the Egypt government, Anthony Eden along with France and Israel conspired to retake the canal. The PM had to face widespread criticism from other countries and the United Nations after the invasion. Hence, he was forced to retreat. Persistent criticism led him to resign from the post of Prime Minister in 1957

Harold MacMillan (1957-63)

After the resignation of Anthony Eden, Harold MacMillan took oath as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1957. He had a great responsibility of taking the UK out of the depths of turmoil. He not only did the job stupendously but also managed to maintain his lead in the 1959 General Elections. Popularly known as ‘Supermac’ Macmillan, he played a major role in catalysing decolonisation and in negotiating the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Finalised in 1969, the treaty prohibited nuclear weapons tests or other nuclear explosions underwater, in the atmosphere, or outer space, allowing only for underground nuclear tests.

Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64)

Conservative party leader, Alec Douglas served for a very short period of 363 days from 1963 to 1964. He was the second PM in the 20th century who had served for such a short period in the UK.

Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-76)

In the next elections, Labour Party leader Harold Wilson won the election to become the fifth UK PM under the reign of Queen Elizabeth. He also became the Prime Minister between 1974-1976. Under his leadership, the country saw the formation of some important laws related to divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and the abolishment of capital punishment.

Edward Heath (1970-74)

Edward Heath made a conservative party government in the UK in 1970. His tenure is mainly known for his attempt to make industrial and economic reforms. In 1971, his government passed the Industrial Relations Act, which led to a huge upheaval in the country. It led to the Miners' strike of 1972 and 1974, and the three day week. In the next elections in 1974, he was succeeded by Harold Wilson for two years.

James Callaghan (1976-79)

Labour party leader, James Callaghan is still the only UK PM who has handled all four major offices of state: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister. He handled the government at a time, when the country was reeling under extreme inflation. He took significant steps in removing racial discrimination in the country. He was majorly known for passing the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 1976, Race Relations Act, etc.

Margaret Thatcher (1979-90)

Popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady’, Conservative party’s Baroness Margaret Thatcher was not only the first female British Prime Minister but also became the longest serving PM with a tenure of 11 years. She turned out to be a major force of privatisation in the country as nearly all the major government-run entities were sold off during her second tenure. She is also remembered for diminishing the role of trade unions in the country.She mindfully handled the Miners’ strike of 1984-85 and was able to destroy the dominance of the National Union of Mine workers that led to the resignation of Edward Heath during the 1970s. She is also known for her education reforms in the country.

John Major (1990-97)

Conservative Party leader John Major served as the next prime minister after Margaret Thatcher. Britain’s economy flourished continuously during his tenure. He also witnessed the initiation of the Northern Ireland Peace Process during his tenure.

Tony Blair (1997-2007)

Labour Party’s Tony Blair was the longest serving Prime Minister who saw the completion of the Northern Irish peace process and the response to the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks. He was also responsible for bringing some of the major public sector reforms to the country. He supported the USA over the need to confront militant Islamism in Afghanistan in 2001 and even in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2006, the Israel-Lebanon war led to a huge Labour party rebellion against Tony Blair. He resigned in 2007 from the post of UK Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown (2007-10)

Later, the position was handled by Labour Party’s Gordon Brown. Some of the main events of his tenure include the world’s first-ever Climate Change Act which was introduced to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions and save the planet from global warming. He also saw the devolutions of powers in Northern Ireland and the removal of troops from Iraq.

David Cameron (2010-16)

Conservative party leader, David Cameron, successfully led the coalition government in the country. In 2015, he also formed the majority Conservative government after a decade. He mainly focused on his vision of delivering the greenest ever government with his expertise in environmental issues. He formed the world’s first Green Investment Bank. His government also passed the UK’s same-sex marriage act. A total of three referendums were conducted during his tenure. In the third referendum, the British people voted for Britain to exit the European Union. This happened despite his nationwide pro-EU campaign. Ultimately, he resigned in 2016.

Theresa May 2016-2019

Conservative party leader, Theresa May was another UK Prime Minister who took significant steps toward environmental conservation and reducing global warming. She also established the United Kingdom’s first-ever Race Disparity Audit to bring out the hidden racial disparities in public services. She played a key role in the 25 Years Environment Plan to tackle several environmental issues. The nation also committed to achieving a ‘net zero’ climate emissions target by 2050 under her leadership.

Boris Johnson(2019-22)

Boris Johnson handled the Prime Minister post after the resignation of Theresa May in 2019. He gained popularity after completing the Brexit process. Later, he was reappointed after marking one of the biggest victories of Conservatives in the same year. However, during his tenure the inflation in the country grew sharply. Moreover, he was heavily criticized for breaking rules during COVID lockdowns for his parties. After taking significant steps to control inflation, his government was criticized for raising taxes. He stepped out of his position as Prime Minister after a series of resignations came from senior cabinet ministers like Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, and junior officials.

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