In Photos: Queen Elizabeth II and Her 15 Prime Ministers

The Queen has maintained a cordial relationship with most of the prime ministers who served during her reign.

6 min read

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The longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on Thursday, 8 September. Her reign commenced on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. She was coroneted a year later – on 2 June 1953 – when she was 26 years of age.

Being the Head of State, the monarch officially abstains from having any political inclination, though the Queen has maintained a cordial relationship with most of the prime ministers who served during her reign. The Queen also holds the right to appoint a prime minister, and over the years, has held frequent, periodical meetings with them.

Queen Elizabeth II was served by 15 prime ministers during her reign. Sir Winston Churchill was her first prime minister, with whom she shared a friendly bond, and the newly elected Liz Truss was her last prime minister. Truss was also the third female prime minister to be appointed during Queen Elizabeth II's reign, after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

In this photo gallery, we take a look at the 15 prime ministers who served the United Kingdom during her 70-year reign.


1. Sir Winston Churchill

Queen Elizabeth II with her first prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

Sir Winston Churchill was the prime minister of the United Kingdom when Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne. The Queen shared a friendly relationship with Churchill, and according to various reports, she also wrote a letter when he retired in 1955, saying "no other prime minister would ever hold the place of my first prime minister."


2. Sir Anthony Eden

The Queen with Sir Anthony Eden.

(Photo: Twitter/TheCountessJuly)

Sir Anthony Eden served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom following Churchill’s resignation, but he held his office for only one year and 279 days and is often considered one of Britain’s "least successful prime ministers" by many. It was during Eden’s time that Britain got involved in the Suez Crisis – the invasion of Egypt by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France, and it is believed that the developments in Egypt were prioritised in much of the Queen’s interaction with Eden.


3. Harold Macmillan

Queen Elizabeth II with Harold Macmillan.

(Photo: Twitter/DurhamWASP)

Following Eden’s resignation in 1957, the Queen appointed Harold Macmillan as the prime minister on the advice of Churchill and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. It is believed that while the two did not get along well initially, Macmillan soon found a friend in the Queen and trusted her with his plans. Subsequently, the queen also relied on Macmillan for his counsel, even after he left office in 1963.


4. Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Sir Alec Douglas-Home was a childhood friend of Queen Elizabeth II's mother.

(Photo: Twitter/allanholloway)

The Queen found herself in a controversy when Sir Alec Douglas-Home became the prime minister, predominantly because Douglas-Home was a childhood friend of the Queen’s mother. However, to maintain distance from the appointment, the Queen travelled to Windsor.


5. Harold Wilson

Harold Wilson was the first prime minister from the Labour Party during Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

(Photo: Twitter/TheCrownNetflix)

Harold Wilson was the first Labour Party leader to become the prime minister since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. Hailing from a middle-class family with a socialist inclination, it was initially thought that Wilson would not get along with the Queen. However, rather unexpectedly, he got along just fine, and some reports even suggest he went on picnics with the Royal Family.


6. Edward Heath

Queen Elizabeth II with Edward Heath.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

After nearly six years of Wilson’s reign, the Conservatives regained power in the United Kingdom and Edward Heath became the prime minister. Arguably, Heath was the first prime minister since Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation who did not get along with the Queen, with a differing opinion on Britain’s official entry into the European Economic Community being one of the main reasons.


7. James Callaghan

James Callaghan (extreme left) with the Queen.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

James Callaghan was the Queen’s second prime minister from the Labour Party. He got along with the Queen just as fine as Wilson did, while royal correspondent, Simon Edge even claimed that the two engaged in "flirtatious banter."


8. Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

Margaret Thatcher was the longest-serving prime minister during Queen Elizabeth II’s time, holding office for 11 years and 209 days. Despite being the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom, her relationship with the Queen was reportedly strained, mainly because the two had contrasting personalities. In a famous 1986 report, the Sunday Times claimed that the Queen found Thatcher "confrontational and socially divisive."


9. John Major

Queen Elizabeth II with John Major.

(Photo: Twitter/newsrust)

John Major was the first prime minister to be younger than Queen Elizabeth II, with a 17-year age difference between the two. He shared strong ties with the royal family and was also the special guardian for Prince William and Prince Harry following their mother’s death. Major has always maintained that he enjoyed his weekly meetings with the Queen, and in an interview with BBC Radio 4, he stated, "You could discuss things with the Queen that you couldn't really discuss with hardly anybody else."


10. Tony Blair

Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II reportedly did not have the most cordial of relationships.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

Unlike his predecessors Wilson and Callaghan, Labour Party leader Tony Blair did not share a close relationship with the Queen. The relationship worsened in 2010 when Blair published his autobiography titled ‘A Journey,’ in which he revealed some of his private conversations with the Queen. According to royal correspondents, the Queen was "profoundly disappointed" after finding out.


11. Gordon Brown

The Queen greeting Gordon Brown.

(Photo: Twitter/LeszekCzernek3)

Like his predecessor, Labour Party leader Gordon Brown also did not get along well with Queen Elizabeth II, and interestingly, he and Blair were the only two living ex-prime ministers from Queen Elizabeth II’s reign who were not invited to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.


12. David Cameron

The Queen with David Cameron.

(Photo: Twitter/PhantomPower14)

A distant relative of Queen Elizabeth II, David Cameron shared a cordial relationship with her except for one strenuous period – when he had unknowingly shared a private conversation live on television, assuming the recording has stopped. He later issued a public apology, claiming the incident left him "very embarrassed," but got on well with the Queen otherwise.


13. Theresa May

The Queen with her second female prime minister, Theresa May.

(Photo: Instagram/theroyalfamily)

Queen Elizabeth II’s relationship with her second female prime minister, Theresa May, was in complete contrast to her relationship with Thatcher. Speaking about the Queen, May had once said that she had "impressive knowledge and understanding of the issues of the day."


14. Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has reportedly apologised twice to Queen Elizabeth II.

(Photo: Twitter/TheRoyalistsUK)

Boris Johnson, famous for being an outgoing character, took only minutes to break official protocol as he revealed that the Queen told him "I don’t know why anyone would want the job of PM." He also apologised to the Queen twice – first for asking her to suspend Parliament, and then for getting involved in an infamous party, which took place while the nation was under COVID-19 lockdown.


15. Liz Truss

Queen Elizabeth II with the newly elected prime minister of United Kingdom, Liz Truss.

(Photo: Twitter/RoyalFamily)

In a video that went viral following her appointment as the prime minister, a teenager Liz Truss is seen calling the monarchy "disgraceful" and also asking for its abolition. However, her stance has since changed significantly, and she now calls the monarchy "essential."

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