British Government

Her Majesty's Government

United Kingdom

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Her Majesty's Government, or when the sovereign is male, His Majesty's Government, abbreviated HMG or HM Government, is the formal title used by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the governments of some other kingdoms where executive authority is theoretically vested in the monarch and exercised through his or her ministers. In British usage, the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the Courts of the United Kingdom are not considered to be part of the 'Government'. As such the term government refers to the executive branch alone.

In the British Empire, the term "His Majesty's Government" was originally only used by the Imperial Government in London. With the development of the Commonwealth, the self-governing Dominions came to be seen as realms of the British Sovereign equal in status to the United Kingdom, and from the 1920s and '30s the form "His Majesty's Government in ..." began to be used by United Kingdom and Dominion governments. Colonial, state and provincial governments, on the other hand, continued to use the lesser title "Government of ...". There was also His Majesty's Government in the Irish Free State.

Today, however, most Commonwealth Realm governments have now reverted to the form "Government of ...", and it is today mainly in the United Kingdom that the titles "Her Majesty's Government", "Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom" or "Her Britannic Majesty's Government," the last in dealings with foreign states and on British passports, can be found in official use. Although very uncommon today in other Commonwealth Realms, this usage is not incorrect; in a 1989 Canadian Supreme Court decision, one of the Justices referred to "Her Majesty's Government for the Province of Nova Scotia" [1].

The acronym "HMG" is often used by members of the government and their advisers as a convenient short label to describe British Ministers and the senior civil servants or mandarins in Departments of the United Kingdom Government. The term comes from the formal constitutional position that British ministers govern the country by advising the Crown through the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

Individual British governments (also known historically as ministries) may also be identified by reference to the Prime Minister who leads them (e.g. the Attlee government, or the Gladstone's second ministry).


List of British Governments


For pre-1721 elected parliaments see List of Parliaments of England.

Party Prime Minister(s) Date Notes
Whig Robert Walpole 1721-1742 generally regarded as being the first Prime Minister of Great Britain 
Whig The Earl of Wilmington 1742-1743  
Whig Henry Pelham 1743-1754  
Whig The Duke of Newcastle 1754-1756  
Whig The Duke of Devonshire 1756-1757  
Whig The Duke of Newcastle 1757-1762  
Tory The Earl of Bute 1762  
Whig George Grenville 1763-1765  
Whig 2nd Marquess of Rockingham 1765-1766  
Whig William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham 1766-1768 the Elder 
Whig 3rd Duke of Grafton 1768-1770  
Tory Lord North 1770-1782  
Whig 2nd Marquess of Rockingham 1782  
Whig 2nd Earl of Shelburne 1782-1783  
Whig William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland 1783  
Tory William Pitt 1783-1801 the Younger 
Tory Henry Addington 1801-1804  
Tory William Pitt 1804-1806 the Younger 
Whig Lord Grenville 1806-1807  
Tory The Duke of Portland 1807-1809  
Tory Spencer Perceval 1809-1812 the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated 
Tory Lord Liverpool 1812-1827  
Tory George Canning 1827  
Tory Lord Goderich 1827-1828  
Tory The Duke of Wellington 1828-1830  
Whig The Earl Grey, The Viscount Melbourne 1830-1834  
Conservative Provisional The Duke of Wellington 1834  
Conservative Sir Robert Peel 1834-1835  
Whig The Viscount Melbourne 1835-1841  
Conservative Sir Robert Peel 1841-1846  
Whig Lord John Russell 1846-1852  
Conservative The Earl of Derby 1852  
Coalition The Earl of Aberdeen 1852-1855  
Palmerston The Viscount Palmerston 1855-1858  
Conservative The Earl of Derby 1858-1859  
Liberal The Viscount Palmerston, The Earl Russell 1859-1866  
Conservative The Earl of Derby, Benjamin Disraeli 1866-1868  
Liberal William Ewart Gladstone 1868-1874  
Conservative Benjamin Disraeli 1874-1880  
Liberal William Ewart Gladstone 1880-1885  
Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury 1885-1886  
Liberal William Ewart Gladstone 1886  
Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury 1886-1892  
Liberal William Ewart Gladstone, The Earl of Rosebery 1892-1895  
Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury, Arthur Balfour 1895-1905  
Liberal Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Herbert Henry Asquith 1905-1915  
Coalition Herbert Henry Asquith 1915-1916  
Coalition David Lloyd George 1916-1922  
Conservative Andrew Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin 1922-1924  
Labour James Ramsay MacDonald 1924  
Conservative Stanley Baldwin 1924-1929  
Labour James Ramsay MacDonald 1929-1931  
National James Ramsay MacDonald 1931-1935  
National Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain 1935-1940  
Coalition Winston Churchill 1940-1945  
Caretaker Winston Churchill 1945  
Labour Clement Attlee 1945-1951  
Conservative Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden 1951-1957  
Conservative Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1957-1964  
Labour Harold Wilson 1964-1970  
Conservative Edward Heath 1970-1974  
Labour Harold Wilson 1974-1976  
Labour Jim Callaghan 1976-1979 Loss of motion of no confidence precipitated an election  
Conservative Margaret Thatcher 1979-1990 Thatcher resigned in November 1990  
Conservative John Major 1990-1997 Election called close to five year limit of parliament  
Labour Tony Blair 1997-present  

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