Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II poses in 2010 with several prime ministers who served during her reign. With the Queen from left to right: David Cameron, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Winston Churchill (1951-1955): The Queen is said to have been in awe of her first prime minister, Winston Churchill. Once, when asked which prime minister she enjoyed meeting most, she replied, “Winston, of course, because it’s always so much fun.”
Anthony Eden (1955-1957): Her Majesty found her second prime minister a sympathetic listener, and their relationship was constitutional. The biggest political event that took place during Eden’s time was the Suez Crisis. At the time, he believed it was imperative to keep the queen informed, so he shared all the Suez documents with her—the first time she had been shown secret government documents.
Harold Macmillan (1957–1963): Macmillan was initially difficult for the Queen to deal with, but they eventually warmed up to each other. Her Majesty relied on Macmillan for his wise advice, both during his tenure and after his retirement in 1963.
Alec Douglas-Home (1963–1964): The Queen was well acquainted with Douglas-Home, who was seen from behind, as he was a childhood friend of the Queen Mother. Therefore, Her Majesty worked hard to restore her informal relationship with him. During his year in office, Douglas-Home helped the monarch name several royal horses.
Harold Wilson (1964–1970, 1974–1976): Wilson, who came from the lower middle class, became the first Prime Minister of the Queen’s Labor Party. Wilson, pictured here with Prince Philip, often broke the conventions of meetings and enjoyed helping wash the dishes after a barbecue at Balmoral, one of the Queen’s residences. However, the queen liked Wilson’s informal presence and even invited him to stay for a drink after their first meeting, which was not common.
Edward Heath (1970-1974): The relationship between Her Majesty and Heath was complicated, especially because their views were very different. While the Queen considered her role as head of the Commonwealth extremely important, Heath advocated European integration.
James Callaghan (1976–1979): Callaghan got on well with the Queen, but noted that she offered him “friendliness, but no friendship”. In an interview with the BBC’s David Frost, Callaghan spoke of the moment he asked Her Majesty’s opinion as he couldn’t make up his mind. He said the Queen looked at him “with a twinkle in her eye” and said, “This is what you’re paid to do.”
Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990): While Thatcher and the Queen were the closest in age, Thatcher kept their meetings strictly professional, formal and notoriously tough. The “Iron Lady”, as she came to be known, reportedly had a tense relationship with the monarch during their traditional weekly meetings. Thatcher also felt that her annual visits to the royal house in Balmoral interrupted her work. But despite this, Thatcher is said to have been incredibly respectful of the Queen and ended up becoming her longest-serving prime minister.
John Major (1990–1997): John Major and the Queen gave each other mutual support during his leadership. They have survived many crises together: he is the Gulf War and the economic downturn, she is the fire at Windsor Castle and the family problems of her son Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife Diana.
Tony Blair (1997-2007): Blair considered Britain’s relationship with the monarchy an outdated institution and was determined to modernize it. In his book The Journey, he poked fun at the annual tradition of the queen visiting the royal home at Balmoral, recalling “a vivid combination of the intriguing, the surreal, and the downright whimsical. This whole culture was completely alien, of course, not that the members of the royal family were not very welcoming. Meanwhile, the Queen reportedly thought Blair’s relationship with US President George W. Bush was too friendly.
Gordon Brown (2007-2010): Although the Queen and Brown are believed to have had a close relationship, this was not enough to secure him an invitation to Prince William’s wedding. However, Her Majesty occasionally imitated his Scottish accent nonchalantly.
David Cameron (2010-2016): Relations between David Cameron and the Queen appear to have been cordial. Not only is he the youngest of the Queen’s prime ministers, but he is related to them. He is a direct descendant of King William IV, making him the Queen’s fifth cousin twice removed.