Monday 9 July 2018

The Queen's first Foreign Secretary was Anthony Eden, whom she later knighted


Today, 66 years after Eden kissed hands as Foreign Secretary, the Queen appointed Jeremy Hunt to replace Boris Johnson.

Image may contain: 1 person

5 April 1955 was decided upon as the date when Churchill would finally tender his resignation to the Queen, to be succeeded as Prime Minister by Eden. The evening before, Churchill hosted a farewell dinner, attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, at 10 Downing Street. After the dinner, his long-serving secretary John 'Jock'  Colville found the Prime Minister sitting on his bed in evening dress, wearing the Garter and staring into space. Colville asked him softly what he was thinking about. Colville imagined he was looking back over his 55 years in politics, but instead Churchill said, “I don’t believe Anthony can do it.”

Churchill said Anthony Eden's speeches consisted 'entirely of cliches - cliches old and new - everything from "God is love" to "Please adjust your dress before leaving"'.

“The trouble with Anthony Eden was that he was trained to win the Derby in 1938; unfortunately, he was not let out of the starting stalls until 1955.” Harold Macmillan

"He is not a gentleman – he dresses too well." Anon.

"I never saw a better dressed fool." Benito Mussolini in spring 1935

"Half beautiful woman, half mad baronet." Rab Butler

"Ah, Enoch, dear Enoch! He once said something to me I never understood. He said, "You know, I've told you all I know about housing, and you can make your speech accordingly. Can I talk to you about something that you know all about and I know nothing? I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans." You know, I had no idea what he meant. I do now."

Sir Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis


  1. Sir Anthony handled the Suez crisis about as well as the current lot are handling Brexit.

  2. I feel a bit sad for poor old Anthony Eden. He still thought Britain was a sovereign nation. The whole Suez thing was possibly wrong-headed (it was certainly a mistake to think the Israelis could be trusted) but at least he tried to have an actual independent foreign policy.