Anthony Eden

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (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 United Kingdom from 1955 to 1957. Achieving rapid promotion as a young Member of Parliament, he was Foreign Secretary at the age of thirty-eight, before resigning in protest at Neville Chamberlain’s policy towards Mussolini’s Italy. He again held that position during the last five years of the Second World War, and a third time in the early 1950s. Having been Churchill’s undisputed deputy for almost fifteen years, he succeeded him as Prime Minister in 1955, and a month later won a general election. By this time Eden was suffering from recurrent fevers and using mood-altering prescription drugs following a series of botched operations. His 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 the Suez Crisis, which critics across party lines regarded as an historic setback for British foreign policy, signalling the end of British predominance in the Middle East. Most historians argue that he made a series of blunders, especially not realising the depth of American opposition to military action. Two months after ordering an end to the Suez operation he resigned as Prime Minister on grounds of ill health, and because he was widely suspected of having misled the House of Commons over the degree of „collusion” with France and Israel. He generally stayed out of the public eye thereafter. He 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 Suez Crisis „was a truly tragic end to his premiership, and one that came to assume a disproportionate importance in any assessment of his career. „

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