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The Lord Home of the Hirsel

head and shoulders image of clean shaven, slim, balding man of middle age
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
19 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by Harold Wilson
Leader of the Opposition
In office
16 October 1964 – 28 July 1965
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Harold Wilson
Succeeded by Edward Heath
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
18 October 1963 – 28 July 1965
Preceded by Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by Edward Heath
Personal details
Born
Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home

(1903-07-02)2 July 1903
Mayfair, London, England
Died 9 October 1995(1995-10-09) (aged 92)
Coldstream, Scotland
Resting place Lennel Churchyard, Coldstream
Political party Conservative
Other political
affiliations
Unionist
Spouse(s)
Elizabeth Alington
(m. 1936; died 1990)
Children 4, including David
Parents Charles Douglas-Home (father)
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Alec Douglas-Home
Personal information
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium
Domestic team information
Years Team
1924–1927
  • MCC
  • Middlesex
  • Oxford University
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 10
Runs scored 147
Batting average 16.33
100s/50s
Top score 37*
Balls bowled
Wickets 12
Bowling average 30.25
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 3/43
Catches/stumpings 9/–

Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, KT, PC (Listeni/ˈhjuːm/; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1964. He was better known as Alec Douglas-Home.

Home was a Member of Parliament and a junior official (a Parliamentary Private Secretary) when Neville Chamberlain went to Munich to meet Adolf Hitler in 1938. He was present at the main meetings between Hitler and Chamberlain. Later in life, he was appointed by Harold Macmillan as Foreign Secretary in 1960–1963, and again in Edward Heath's government from 1970–1974.

Home's name and title changed a few times during his life. Born as Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, he became Lord Dunglass when his father became the Earl of Home. Dunglass is a junior title, that is, a lower title which is held by the eldest son. When his father died Alec became the 14th Earl of Home. He also became Baron Douglas in the peerage of the United Kingdom (that was also a junior title).

When he was chosen as Leader of the Conservative Party after Harold Macmillan retired, he knew it would be difficult to lead a government from the House of Lords. So he renounced his title, four days after becoming Prime Minister. Once he renounced the title, he became simply Sir Alec Douglas-Home. He had been made a Knight of the Thistle in 1962. Finally, after he lost the election of 1964, he was given a life peerage, titled 'Baron Home of the Hirsel'. That title is not hereditary but, after his death, his son became the 15th Earl of Home.

Rapidly, after the title was renounced, arrangements were made. The safe Conservative seat of Kinross and Western Perthshire was vacant, and Douglas-Home was adopted as his party's candidate. Parliament was due to meet on 24 October after the summer recess, but its return was postponed until 12 November pending the by-election. For twenty days Douglas-Home was Prime Minister while a member of neither house of Parliament, a situation without modern precedent. He won the by-election with a majority of 9,328.

The Times considered that his reputation rested not on his brief premiership, but on his two spells as Foreign Secretary: "He brought to the office ... his capacity for straight talking, for toughness towards the Soviet Union and for firmness (sometimes interpreted as a lack of sympathy) towards the continents of Africa and Asia. But he brought something else as well: an unusual degree of international respect".


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