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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
The Queen and her PMs
Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, the Queen, Jim Callaghan, John Major
The Queen's advice is valued by her premiers
Harold Wilson enjoyed a laugh with the Queen, Margaret Thatcher found some meetings difficult, while Winston Churchill adored her, according to a BBC Golden Jubilee documentary.

Since coming to the throne in 1952 she has had 10 premiers beginning with the great war-time leader Churchill, but what she thought of them all has been - and remains - a closely-guarded secret.


One of the great things is that she always seems able to see the funny side of life

Lord Callaghan
In the BBC One documentary Queen and Country, due to be screened on Thursday, former prime ministers talk about the unique relationship they have with the monarch.

The current incumbent at Number 10, Tony Blair, explains how he values the opportunity to use the Queen as a sounding board.

"She is about the only person that you can tell something to in complete confidence and know that confidence will never be broken," Mr Blair said.

"And I've done that on several occasions, things that, you know, are in my own mind, that I think are extremely important."

Former Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was said to have enjoyed his trips to stay with the Queen at Balmoral.

Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson was said to get on with the Queen
That apparently was not the case with Baroness Thatcher who is believed to have had a difficult relationship with the Queen.

According to one observer: "A weekend in the country with aristocrats who enjoy riding, shooting, sports and games is Thatcher's idea of torture."

That was in marked contrast to another Tory prime minister, Alec Douglas-Home, who had a brief spell at Number 10 in the early 1960s.

Formality?

An aide said: "He was an old friend - they talked about dogs and shooting together.

"They were both Scottish landowners - the same sort of people."

Sir Edwards Heath's meetings with the Queen were said to be rather more formal as he found small talk more difficult.

The oldest living prime minister, James Callaghan, said of his relationship with the monarch: "One of the great things is that she always seems able to see the funny side of life.

"All conversations were very enjoyable."

The monarch is said to have appreciated the concern shown by John Major for her grandchildren in the wake of the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

He was also said to have been supportive in the wake of the Princess of Wales' death.

Footage of the Queen's chats with Mr Blair feature in the documentary.

In one clip she says: "The prime ministers unburden themselves, or tell me what's going on, or if they've got any problems.

"Sometimes one can help in that way."

 VOTE RESULTS
Who is your favourite Prime Minister of the Queen's reign?

Winston Churchill
 33.07% 

Anthony Eden
 0.88% 

Harold Macmillan
 2.17% 

Alec Douglas-Home
 1.55% 

Edward Heath
 2.14% 

Harold Wilson
 7.75% 

James Callaghan
 2.54% 

Margaret Thatcher
 23.22% 

John Major
 9.59% 

Tony Blair
 17.09% 

4569 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

10 Apr 02 | UK Politics
28 Mar 02 | UK Politics
24 Oct 00 | Europe
24 Oct 00 | UK Politics
22 Mar 02 | UK Politics
23 Mar 02 | UK Politics
10 Mar 00 | UK Politics
10 Mar 00 | UK Politics
08 Feb 01 | UK Politics

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