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Benjamin Disraeli


Benjamin Disraeli by Sir John Everett Millais (npg)

Disraeli at Osborne by Theo Blake Wirgman

MP and author, Lord Beaconsfield who was Prime Minister twice during Queen Victoria’s reign, 1868 and 1874-80. He helped to create the modern Conservative Party’s policies and direction. 

In world affairs, he was instrumental in the British purchase of the majority of shares of the Suez Canal, securing the route to India. He told the Queen “It is settled, you have it madam.” He also worked to promote peace in the Balkans at a time when it was the most unstable part of Europe. The decline of the Ottoman Empire led to the Congress of Berlin, in 1878, which brought peace to the region.

At home, he helped pass the Parliamentary Reform Act bringing an end to Rotten Boroughs and even introduced a Factory Act to protect worker’s rights and Public Health Acts to safeguard food. But being Prime Minister during wars in Afghanistan and South Africa made his government unpopular.

Disraeli visited Osborne frequently as the guest of the Queen. He cultivated a relationship with Victoria based on flattery and over-politeness saying Everybody likes flattery; and, when you come to royalty, you should lay it on with a trowel.

When the Queen realised that Tsar Alexander II held a higher title than her, as Emperor of Russia she persuaded Disraeli to introduce the Royal Titles Bill that officially recognised her as Empress of India and the British Empire.

When he died in 1881 Victoria sent a wreath of primroses to be laid on Disraelis coffin, with the words His favourite flowersAnd later she wrote “…dear Ld. Beaconsfield was one of my best, most devoted, & kindest of friends, as well as wisest of counsellors. His loss is irreparable, to me & the country…”

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