Britain

First AMONG EQUALS

In 1841, early in Queen Victoria’s reign, her mentor and Prime Minister Viscount Melbourne explained truthfully if opaquely to Her Majesty: “How the power of Prime Ministry grew up into its present form it is difficult to trace precisely.”

It’s certainly a tangled tale, the office having largely evolved through a mix of opportunism, necessity and convention. Sir Robert Walpole is generally reckoned to be the country’s first Prime Minister, holding sway 300 years ago from 1721 to 1742, a lengthy service that led him to quip: “My great crime is my long continuance in office, and the exclusion of those who now complain against me.”

So how did Walpole pioneer the role of PM and how did it subsequently develop into today’s post

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