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1957: Macmillan becomes Prime Minister
Harold Macmillan has accepted the Queen's invitation to become prime minister following the sudden resignation of Sir Anthony Eden.

The appointment was officially announced from Buckingham Palace this afternoon after the Queen had held meetings with Tory elders Sir Winston Churchill and the Marquess of Salisbury.

In a televised speech this evening, Mr Macmillan, 62, said: "We have a difficult task before us in this country - all of us.

"It will need all our courage and strength, and we shall need the sympathy, good will and understanding of everyone in the country, whatever their party or beliefs."

'Greatest possible success'

Sir Anthony Eden resigned yesterday on the grounds of ill health in the wake of the Suez crisis.

Many had expected his deputy, Rab Butler, to succeed him but it is understood his views on the Suez crisis would have split the Conservative party.

Accepting the decision gracefully, Mr Butler, 54, today pledged his support to the new prime minister and wished him "the greatest possible success".

Opposition leader Hugh Gaitskell, who is currently on a lecture tour of the United States, has called for an immediate general election but this has been rejected by Harold Macmillan.

Born in 1894 to an American mother and British father, Harold Macmillan served in WWI. He was wounded three times and received the Military Cross.

He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford before beginning his political career in 1924, when he was elected MP for Stockton-on-Tees.

In 1938 he published his book "The Middle Way", which advocated a wide extension of social enterprise and credit.

He was also one of the first supporters of the United Europe movement.

From 1940 he served in Churchill's war cabinet.

He was appointed Minister of Housing in 1951 and was very successful in this post, keeping to his pledge of building 300,000 houses a year.

In 1954 he became Minster of Defence, before being appointed Foreign Secretary in 1955 and most recently Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Macmillan, who is married with four children, has vowed to repair damaged relations with the US and the UN following the Suez crisis.

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Harold Macmillan
Macmillan was one of the first supporters of the United Europe movement



In Context
Harold Macmillan served as prime minister until 1963 when he resigned due to pressure from within the Conservative party for a younger leader.

He will be remembered for his "Winds of Change" speech in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1960, when he distanced himself from apartheid.

His greatest achievement came in 1963 when he was heavily involved in negotiating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty following the Cuban missile crisis. He earned plaudits from Presidents Kennedy and Khrushchev for his patience and diplomacy.

He was created Earl of Stockton in 1984 and died in 1986.

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