From Churchill to Boris: 14 prime ministers the Queen has seen come and go (and which was her favourite)

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The Queen with Boris Johnson in happier times. (PA)
The Queen with Boris Johnson in happier times. (PA)

In her 70 years as monarch, the Queen has seen many a prime minister come and go - with the latest being Boris Johnson.

Since her coronation in 1952, when Winston Churchill was PM, she has witnessed no fewer than 14 different people in the role.

Here are the British PMs she has seen during her time as monarch.

Winston Churchill (1951-1955)

Churchill was already in his second spell as prime minister when Elizabeth ascended the throne.

He had served under her father twice, firstly between 1940 and 1945 when leading the country during the Second World War.

File photo dated 05/04/1955 of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill bowing to Queen Elizabeth II as he welcomes her and the Duke of Edinburgh to 10 Downing Street for dinner as the Queen turns 90 on the April 21st.
Churchill was in his second stint as PM when the Queen came to the throne. (Getty)

Anthony Eden (1955-1957)

Eden's handling of the Suez Crisis would later contribute to his ranking as one of the worst British leaders of the 20th Century but the Queen was said to have found him a sympathetic listener to her concerns.

Harold Macmillan (1957-1963)

Following Eden’s resignation, Macmillan was picked to be the next prime minister by the Queen herself, after taking advice from Winston Churchill.

Macmillan, a Conservative, reportedly told the Queen he couldn’t guarantee his government would last six weeks due to the fallout of the Suez Crisis, though he went on to be prime minister for six years.

He reportedly called the Queen "a great support, because she is the one person you can talk to".

Watch: Barbados rejects the Queen and becomes a republic

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963-1964)

Like Macmillan, Douglas-Home was picked to be prime minister by the Queen, who already knew him as he was a childhood friend of the Queen Mother's.

However, he was only PM for two days short of a year, as the public had lost faith with the Conservatives following the Profumo affair.

Harold Wilson (1964-1970 and 1974-1976)

Wilson was the Queen's first Labour Prime Minister and served two separate stints as PM.

The pair were said to have had a relaxed relationship - he described his visits as like “going to see mother”, and he even helped out with the dishes after royal barbecues.

Wilson was one of only two prime ministers whose resignation dinner was attended by the Queen - the other being Churchill.

Former British Prime Ministers (left to right) James Callaghan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1903 - 1995), Harold MacMillan (1894 - 1986), Harold Wilson (1916 - 1995) and Edward Heath with  Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, to celebrate the building's 250 years as the Prime Minister's residence, 11th December 1985. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Former British Prime Ministers (left to right) James Callaghan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1903 - 1995), Harold MacMillan (1894 - 1986), Harold Wilson (1916 - 1995) and Edward Heath with Queen Elizabeth II and then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985. (Getty)

Sir Edward Heath (1970-1974)

The Queen and Sir Edward Heath reportedly had a strained relationship at times because of their differences over European integration.

Years later, Heath famously fell asleep in front of the monarch during a dinner at Downing Street hosted by then-prime minister John Major.

James Callaghan (1976-1979)

The pair had a warm relationship and on one occasion, the Queen apparently placed a flower in his buttonhole during a stroll around Buckingham Palace.

But Callaghan also knew the score, reportedly saying: "What one gets is friendliness but not friendship".

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - AUGUST 01:  Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher attend a ball to celebrate the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting hosted by President Kenneth Kaunda on August 01, 1979 in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
The Queen reportedly had a frosty relationship with Margaret Thatcher. (Getty)

Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990)

The topic of the Queen's relationship with Margaret Thatcher is regularly up for grabs and was said to be one of the frostiest relationships between the monarch and any of her prime ministers.

But Thatcher, who was just six months older than the Queen, later wrote: "Stories of clashes between ‘two powerful women’ were just too good not to make up".

Despite the reports the Queen attended Thatcher’s funeral in 2013. It was only the second time she had attended the funeral of a former prime minister.

Sir John Major (1990-1997)

Of their weekly briefings, the Tory PM said: "We would sit down and we would talk about whatever was relevant.

"There’s nobody else ever there. The only other living soul present is often the Queen’s corgis, they tend to amass around the chair."

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with former British prime minister Sir John Major as Lord Mayor of Westmnster, councillor Lindsay Hall (C) looks on, on her arrival to visit Kings College, to open Bush House, the latest education and learning facilities on the Strand Campus, in central London on March 19, 2019 (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)
John Major reportedly had a strong relationship with the Queen. (Getty)

Tony Blair (1997-2007)

Tony Blair was reportedly the first prime minister to move the day of the weekly meetings with the Queen so he could prepare for PMQs.

He was known to occasionally mess up Royal protocol, including revealing to an audience what the monarch had said to him in one of their confidential meetings - a big no-no.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets Prime Minister Tony Blair outside the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College in Berkshire, where a church service was held marking the 25th anniversary of the Falkland Islands' liberation.
Tony Blair was said to have blunders in terms of Royal protocol. (Getty)

Gordon Brown (2007-2010)

The Queen is said to have had a polite working relationship with Gordon Brown, who was perhaps easier to work with than his predecessor.

On one occasion she jokingly imitated his Scottish accent, and for their final meeting after his resignation, the Queen reportedly invited his family along.

David Cameron (2010-2016)

As the Queen's fifth cousin, twice removed, David Cameron is actually related to the monarch, and also the youngest prime minister during her reign.

He, too, broke royal protocol by telling former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen had "purred down the line" when he informed her that Scotland had voted against independence - something he later apologised for.

RUNNYMEDE, ENGLAND - JUNE 15:  British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) gestures sat next to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (C) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (R) as they attend a service to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta on June 15, 2015 in Runnymede, United Kingdom. Members of the Royal Family are visiting Runnymede to attend an event commemorating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. Magna Carta is widely recognised as one of the most significant documents in history. Its influence, as a cornerstone of fundamental liberties, is felt around the world in the constitutions and political traditions of countless nations. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
David Cameron was another PM to break royal protocol by telling others what the Queen had said in a private meeting. (Getty)

Theresa May (2016-2019)

The Queen was reportedly frustrated that May did not tell her of her plans for Brexit shortly after she became prime minister.

However, a royal butler told a newspaper the pair had a "bond" together, saying "they get on really well".

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 13:  Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Theresa May at the start of an audience where she invited the former Home Secretary to become Prime Minister and form a new government at  Buckingham Palace on July 13, 2016 in London, England. Former Home Secretary Theresa May becomes the UK's second female Prime Minister after she was selected unopposed by Conservative MPs to be their new party leader. She is currently MP for Maidenhead. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen and Theresa May reportedly built a bond during her time as PM. (Getty)

Boris Johnson (2019-today)

Boris Johnson is another PM found to be distantly related to the Royal family, according to a BBC’sWho Do You Think You Are?’ programme in 2008.

During his war of words with Dominic Cummings since his departure from Number 10, Cummings claimed he had to stop the PM from attending his weekly meeting with the Queen in person in March 2020, warning him he could kill the monarch.

So.. which one was her favourite?

It's hard to be sure. Asked once to name her favourite PM, she replied: "Winston [Churchill] of course, because it was always such fun."

The monarch attended Churchill's resignation dinner. But she did the same for Harold Wilson, suggesting he was a favourite too.

The Queen was also said to have got on "really well" with Theresa May.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth II cracks a joke during family photo with G7 leaders

Can Queen Elizabeth overrule the prime minister?

The Queen is constitutionally empowered to exercise the royal prerogative against the advice of the prime minister or the cabinet, but in reality would only do so in emergencies.

She also has 'reserve powers' that allow the appointment and dismissal of them.

Watch: The Queen still drinks alcohol

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