Prime Minister Robert Anthony Eden

Prime Minister Robert Anthony Eden

Male 1897 - 1977  (79 years)    Has more than 100 ancestors and 2 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Robert Anthony Eden 
    Prefix Prime Minister 
    Relationshipwith Francis Fox
    Born 12 Jun 1897  Windlestone Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 11 Jan 1977  Alvediston, Salisbury Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I32934  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also Anthony Eden at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 19 May 2003 

    Father William Eden,   b. 4 Apr 1849,   d. 31 Jan 1915, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years) 
    Mother Sybil Grey,   b. 9 Apr 1867,   bur. 1943  (Age ~ 75 years) 
    Married 20 Jul 1886  St.Paul's, Knightsbridge Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Siblings 1 sibling 
    Family ID F13824  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Beatrice Helen Beckett,   b. 26 Jul 1905, Leeds Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Jun 1957, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years) 
    Married 5 Nov 1923  Westminster Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced 1950 
     1. Simon Gascoyn Eden,   b. 13 Nov 1924, Sussex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jun 1945, Burma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 20 years)
     2. Nicholas Eden,   b. 3 Oct 1930, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aug 1985, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years)
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2000 
    Family ID F66995  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Living 
    Last Modified 29 Aug 2000 
    Family ID F53811  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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  • Notes 
    • Rt. Hon Sir Anthony Eden, 1st Lord Avon. British Prime Minister 1955 - 1957
      Anthony Eden
      Earl of Avon
      Eden served as foriegn secretary from 1935 until 1938 when he resigned in protest over Neville Chamberlain's decision to "open conversations" with Italy's dictator, Benito Mussolini, a facist. He again took on the duties of foreign secretary (1940-45 ) as part of a wartime coalition government under Churchill and again in the Conservative government that won election in 1951, holding the post until he became prime minister in April,1955. As foreign secretary, he negotiated with the Soviets for an "interim peace" in Vietnam in 1954.
      Eden's role as prime minister ended abruptly due to a failed military adventure which attempted to regain international control of the Suez Canal precipitated by the nationalization of the Canal by Egypt's President Nassar in October, 1956. The international action was led by an Israeli attack followed by the landing of British and French troops. The result. . .a Soviet protest, domestic opposition and non-support from America, led to the withdrawal of troops and Eden's resignation. Even after stepping down, Eden maintained that his actions to regain control of the Suez were justified. The crisis strained relations between Britain, France, Australia and the US for a period of time.

      Sir Anthony Eden
      To have reached the Foreign Secretaryship at the age of thirty-eight implies unusual qualities of mind and character. Above all, it implies industry and tact. Anthony Eden, in the army at eighteen, had what is called a "good war", in other words, he had displayed courage and ability... By the time of the Armistice in 1918, he was a brigade-major and had won the MC. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he was a scholar of distinction in Persian and an enthusiast for post-impressionist art. In politics, he showed skill in debate and in negotiation. It seemed that the young Conservative MP for Leamington (which he became in 1923) was a born diplomat. It was not his only claim to international fame. It was said, "He and the Duke of Windsor are the only two Englishmen since Beau Brummell to be accorded respect on the Continent by sartorial experts" (Lord Chandos). In the same year he married Beatrice Helen Beckett. They had two sons. Eden's convictions were aligned with the idealism which was fashionable in Britain then and was focused on the League of Nations. For this reason, Eden was more popular in the country than most other spokesmen of his party. He established something like a power-base of his own. He became accordingly a semi-independent political force with a following in the country. When Sir Samuel Hoare made a bargain with Laval which involved giving a great area of Abyssinia to Mussolini, British public opinion was outraged. Too many carefully nurtured illusions about sanctions and "Collective Security" had been destroyed too suddenly. Hoare resigned. Eden, untainted by what had gone before, succeeded him as Foreign Secretary.
      Almost at once, however, it was plain that Britain was faced with a peril to Enropean peace far more formidable than Mussolini's African adventure. In the spring of 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland, which Germany, by the Treaty of Locarno, had agreed should be demilitarized. If this act was not -or could not be- resisted, then there was no hope of preventing Hitler's further plans for reshaping Europe according to his ideas. So much seems obvious to us now, with the wisdom of hindsight. But it was not obvious then to the British public or its statesmen. It was not obvious to Eden. Later on, be came to think otherwise: Britain bad made a catastrophic blunder in failing to fall in with France's wish to oppose the Germans -which the French could have done without the slightest difficulty. But that is to overlook the plain truth about British opinion at that time: the public would not have understood an Anglo-French move of the kind required, a pre-emptive strike, as it would have seemed to be. The parties of the Left, Labour and Liberal, would have united with the pro-German faction on the govemment side. It is possible that the govemment would have been brought down; it is likely that Hitler would have been driven from power. But this was something that no reasonably cautious British Cabinet could be sure of.
      After the Rhineland, Hitler's policy was developed in a succession of hammer blows. Diplomacy could do nothing to influence events. Appeasement began to look more and more like a surrender to force. A new Prime Minister, Chamberlain, increasingly influenced foreign policy. Eden, smarting under his interference waited until Chamberlain made the extraordinary blunder of brushing off an offer by Roosevelt to call a conference of the powers to discuss outstanding problems. Then Eden resigned (1938). Churchill looked on the situation with melodrarnatic gloom:
      "From midnight till dawn I lay in my bed concerned by emotions of sorrow and fear. There seemed one strong young figure standing up against long, dismal, drawling tides of drift and surrender. Now he was gone." Thus, Eden had the good fortune to have no part in the final disastrous phases of the appeasement policy.
      When war came, Chamberlain overcame his antipathy and brought Eden back as Dominions Secretary (1939), a position of second-rank importance in the conditions of war. When Churchill took over the government, he made Eden Secretary of State for War until Lord Halifax gave up the Foreign Office for the Washington Embassy, upon which Eden was once more Foreign Secretary, the role for which both his aptitude and his training fitted him. He worked closely and for the most part in harmony with Churchill, who made him Leader of the House in 1942. This was a clear indication that he was marked out as a future Prime Minister. He was "Crown Prince" and did not find the Position wholly enviable. Moreover, the double burden of work took a toll of his health and of his equanimity. In "the Office" he was observed to be more irritable; his colleagues in the government noted an increasing tendency to petulance. He was, however, a most successful Leader of the House. But the hours he worked told on his health. He returned from the San Francisco conference which set up the United Nations in time to take part in the British general election of 1945 which ended the Churchill government.
      It was already clear to him that, if anyone had ever hoped that Russia would work in amity with her allies to set up a workable international system, this was already revealed as an illusion. Fortunately, British foreign policy was now in the hands of that stalwart realist, Ernest Bevin, and, in the United States, President Truman and General Marshall had the imagination which the situation demanded. The outcome was the Marshall Plan and, when the Russians blockaded Berlin, the Berlin airlift. Unhappily, Bevin's health collapsed and Eden, still in Opposition, had an ominous attack of virulent jaundice.
      When, in 1951, Attlee's government was plainly exhausted, the Conservatives came back to power again under Churchill and Eden was, once more, Foreign Secretary. Tension in Europe was rising. Britain had been driven out of the oilfield at Abadan. It was the most severe phase of the Cold War. And there was still no organization in Western Europe to compete with Russian imperialism. There were other complications. Early in 1953, Eden had an operation for the removal of his gallbladder. This was followed by trouble with his bile-duct and, at length, by a third Operation, carried out in Boston. He returned to England to find that Winston Churchill had suffered a stroke. These events were, of course, known to the Russians, who did not fail to take advantage of them. In a series of conferences, in which Eden's resourcefulness and experience as a negotiator were revealed at their most useful, the situation was gradually improved. Eden's task was not made any easier by John Foster Dulles, the American Secretary of State, who was apt to use international conferences as occasions for blasting off against British "colonialism". This did not help the building of defences against the vigorous new colonialism which was being created in Europe, as was shown by Molotov's opposition to free elections in Germany. These years are thought by many to constitute Eden's claim to greatness as a diplomat. He committed British forces to the Continent and, by doing so, saved European defences, after France had refused to be part of the European Defence Community. He brought Germany into the North Atlantic Alliance. But outside Europe the scene was troubled. Shifts of power were going on in the Near and Far East. A few months before Eden succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister, in April, 1955, Nasser had become Dictator of Egypt. The stage was being set for a drama. Eden's first act, which upset some Conservatives, was to withdraw British troops from Suez. He thought that this would strengthen peace in the area. He soon found that he was wrong.
      In its earlier stages, however, the action was centred on the Far East, where the French were involved in a colonial war which, it seemed, they could neither win nor end. Thus, Eden and the French Prime Minister, Mendes-France, produced a face saving formula for French evacuation which seemed to annoy Dulles, who regarded it as a needless victory for the Communists.
      After the success of the Iranian Mossadiq in driving the British out of Abadan, it seemed to Nasser that the time had come to inflict a new humiliation on the failing British power. He used his influence and money to force the Jordanian King to expel Glubb Pasha, the British soldier who was commander of the Arab Legion, the most formidable military unit in the Arab world. This was certainly a cause for resentment for Eden, but it was also a military advantage for Israel, as events were soon to show.
      On 26 JuIy, 1956, Nasser, annoyed because Dulles had called off a loan of 200 million dollars to help him to build a dam at Aswan, seized the Suez Canal. His timing was good. He could count on a Russian veto in the United Nations if any attempt was made to condemn the seizure; there was a weak President in the United States anxious to be re-elected and a Secretary of State whose antipathy to Eden was manifest. Eden's judgment was affected by attacks on him in the press. It had been alleged that he was a feeble Prime Minister: he was determined to show that he was a strong one.
      Morally, he was in the right. He had the support of the great majority of the British people, of all parties. Aneurin Bevan was with him and so, until he changed his mind, was Hugh Gaitskell. Gaitskell was at a dinner party at 10 Downing Street when the news came of Nasser's coup. He compared Nasser with Hitler, a comparison he repeated in the House of Commons. Against Eden were Krishna Menon, India's Foreign Minister and a malignant enemy of Britain; the United Nations, which had not yet lost its standing in the world; and, vastly more important, the United States. Failure to be sure of American support was Eden's crucial error; it proved to be fatal. In collaboration with the French, he delivered a sea-and-air attack on the Suez Canal zone. It was a slow and clumsy stroke. lt was defended afterwards on the ground that it put the Franco British force between the Egyptians and the Israelis. But what was the point of that since the Israelis were attacking -successfully, it may be said -with Britain's connivance? In the end, a drive against sterling frightened Britain into abandoning the whole misconceived and muddled enterprise. After Christmas, 1956, less than two months after the Suez failure, Eden had a return of his bile duct complaint, accompanied by a high fever. He resigned and took ship to New Zealand. It was the end of his political career. He had become a Knight of the Garter in 1954 and was created Earl of Avon in 1961.

      Since then, a re-appraisal of his later policy has become possible. One of its subsidiary effects was that it diverted notice from the Soviet rape of Hiungary and, it was alleged in Britain, had it not been for Eden's Suez venture, the Russians would not have dared to flout Western opinion in this way. Nobody can believe such nonsense today. The chief and most damaging result of Suez was on the nation's self confidence. Having over-estimated its strength, it proceeded to exaggerate its weakness, even to wallow in it. By the time of Suez, Britain had become a second class power; after it, she was for a time in the third class.

      Eden, like his father and grandfather, was educated at Eton. He hoped to go to Sandhurst before joining the British Army, but was rejected because of his poor eyesight.
      With the outbreak of the First World War the British Army reduced its entry standards, and Eden was able to obtain a commission in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. Soon after Lieutenant Eden arrived in France in June 1916, he heard that his sixteen year old brother, Nicholas Eden, had been killed when the Indefatigable had been sunk at the Battle of Jutland.
      Eden served on the Western Front and won the Military Cross at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. After one attack at at Delville Wood, Eden's he battalion suffered 394 casualties, of whom 127 were killed. Nearly all the junior officers were either dead or badly wounded and as a result Eden was promoted to adjutant. By the time the war ended, Eden had reached the rank of major.
      After the war Eden was undecided about whether to stay in the army. He eventually selected a career in politics and in the 1923 General Election won Warwick & Leamington for the Conservative Party. Three years later he was appointed parliamentary private secretary to Austen Chamberlain at the Foreign Office. A post he held until the government lost power at the 1929 General Election.
      In the National Government formed by Ramsay MacDonald in 1931, Eden became Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs (1931-34). When Stanley Baldwin became prime minister in 1935 he appointed Eden as his Foreign Secretary. Eden disagreed with Neville Chamberlain about the way to deal with fascism in Europe and in 1938 he resigned from office. When Winston Churchill took over from Chamberlain in 1940, Eden was reappointed as Foreign Secretary.
      After the Labour Party victory in the 1945 General Election, Eden became deputy leader of the opposition. The 1951 General Election saw the return of a Conservative government and once more Eden became Foreign Secretary. A post he held until he replaced Winston Churchill as prime minister in April, 1955.
      In November 1956, Eden ordered British troops to occupy the Suez Canal in Egypt ahead of the invading Israeli army. His action was condemned by the United Nations and as a result of international pressure, was forced to withdraw his troops from Egypt. In failing health, Eden resigned on 9th January, 1957.
      Created Earl of Avon in 1961, Eden spent his later years writing his Memoirs (3 volumes, 1960-65) and Another World (1976), an account of his war experiences.

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