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The Earl of Avon

Anthony Eden circa 1942
Eden c. 1942
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
6 April 1955 – 9 January 1957
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Sir Winston Churchill
Succeeded by Harold Macmillan
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
26 October 1951 – 6 April 1955
Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill
Preceded by Herbert Morrison
Succeeded by Rab Butler (1962)
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
6 April 1955 – 10 January 1957
Preceded by Sir Winston Churchill
Succeeded by Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Ernest Pollock
Succeeded by John Hobson
Personal details
Born
Robert Anthony Eden

(1897-06-12)12 June 1897
Windlestone Hall, County Durham, England
Died 14 January 1977(1977-01-14) (aged 79)
Alvediston, Wiltshire, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s)
Children 3, including Nicholas
Education Eton College
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Military service
Branch/service  United Kingdom Army
Years of service
  • 1915–1919
  • 1920–1923
  • 1939 (as Territorial)
Rank Major
Unit
Battles/wars
Awards Military Cross
n.b. 

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon KG MC PC (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was better known throughout his time in office as Sir Anthony Eden.

Eden was born into a wealthy family which had owned slaves and plantations in the Caribbean. He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford.

Eden was one of the best-known politicians of his generation. He was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1935 by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and resigned in 1938 in protest at Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler. He was Churchill's Foreign Secretary during World War II, and again in 1951–1955.

He had operation to remove gallstones in 1953. The operation went wrong, and his health was ruined. He became Prime Minister in 1955 when Winston Churchill retired. He stopped being Prime Minister in 1957 when Harold Macmillan replaced him. The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a critical period. This and his health led up to his resignation as Prime Minister. Eden died of liver cancer, aged 79. His widow, Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon, was born in 1920. She is a niece of Winston Churchill.

Eden's life can be described in two halves. The first half, in the 1930s and in wartime, was brilliant. But he is often 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".

Eden had three sons. The elder and middle sons died before him. His Earl of Avon title was inherited by the younger son, Nicholas. When Nicholas died, the title became extinct.


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