From Pitt to Cameron: a political connection
(source: Lloyd’s of London)
Following the attendance of ex PM Sir John Major at our US City Dinner, we uncover the market’s links with PMs past and present. Pitt, Gladstone, Churchill, Cameron, Major and even Lady Thatcher have all played a part in our history.
Ministers of Empire
First up is John Julius Angerstein. Known as the ‘father of Lloyd’s’ and the driving force behind Lloyd’s modernisation at the turn of the 19th century, he was also financial adviser to Pitt the Younger. William Pitt was the youngest and longest-serving Prime Minister who twice held office, first in 1783 at the age of 24 and again from 1804 until his death in 1806. Continuing on the theme of age, William Gladstone – Britain’s oldest PM, who served in the post four times in his 60-year political career – attended a Grand Banquet to celebrate the opening of Lloyd’s former home, the Royal Exchange. Destroyed by fire, the Royal Exchange was rebuilt in 1844 and the opening was attended by two other former PMs, the Duke of Wellington (of Waterloo fame) and Sir Robert Peel, who was credited with creating the first modern police force.
Lloyd’s close ties to maritime trade and the navy also bought it into contact with Britain’s war-time leader Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was elected an Honorary Member of the Society in 1944. Occupied with his war duties, Churchill was unable to attend the ceremony, although he later visited Lloyd’s in 1948 for a dinner in the Captain’s Room.
Lloyd’s commissioned a portrait of Churchill by A. E. Cooper to celebrate the former PMs 80th birthday in 1954. The portrait, in which Churchill is seated beneath an old oak tree, was sited at Churchill’s family home Chartwell.
Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, Margret Thatcher visited Lloyd’s in 1975 as the leader of the opposition. Baroness Thatcher, who’s ‘Big Bang’ regulatory reform sparked a period of rapid growth for the City of London, took over the leadership of the Conservative party from Edward Heath, British Prime Minister between 1970-1974, and one-time Lloyd’s Name.
More recently David Cameron, spoke at the launch of Lloyd’s 2025 Vision, the market’s long term strategy to grow in established and high growth markets. His predecessor, Gordon Brown, also visited Lloyd’s in 2001, accompanied by then-US Treasury Secretary John Snow, who spoke movingly about the way Lloyd’s had provided support to the US market following the terrorist attacks of September 11.
New York City Dinner
This year’s US city dinner was hosted by Lloyd’s Chairman John Nelson and featured guest speaker and former Prime Minister Sir John Major. The purpose of the event was to promote the role and contribution Lloyd’s and the wider London market makes to the US economy, its single largest market.
Past speakers have included Captain Sullenberger, who heroically piloted US Airlines flight 1549 when it crash landed in the Hudson river with no loss of life. However, John Major is the first former British Prime Minister to speak at the New York Dinner.