Following my previous blog on the Odds of a World Leader being Assassinated #1, which looked into the decidedly precarious and often dangerous life of "the world's most powerful person" - The President of the United States, and for whom the life-expectancy is... not great... I'm continuing the series by comparing those odds with another world leader - UK Prime Ministers.
To treat this study fairly, I shall be comparing world leaders across a similar period of time to those governed by US Presidents, therefore as the first US President was George Washington in 1789 and The Office of the Commander-in-Chief remains today, this will be the study period. Any world leader who falls outside of this period is excluded. If you wish to compare how dangerous this job is to your own life, take a look at my analysis on your odds on simply surviving life.
WARNING: This blog contains graphic details of a typically British nature which may cause some readers to exclaim "good golly", "by jove" and "what-ho", and maybe even drop their monocle.
Since 1789, there have been 42 British Prime Ministers (official title being the First Lord of the Treasury) of the United Kingdom, a role fulfilled - in this period - by 40 elected and un-elected men and 2 women, beginning with William Pitt the Younger and the incumbent PM being Theresa May.
Across this period of the UK Prime Minister - 1789 to present day; one Prime Minister was assassinated (Spencer Perceval) whilst in office, three died of natural causes (William Pitt the Younger, George Canning and Lord Palmerston) and two survived assassination attempts (Margaret Thatcher and John Major).
In comparison the US Presidency of 45 President US; four died of natural causes whilst in office (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G Harding & Franklin D Roosevelt), four were assassinated whilst in office (Abraham Lincoln, James A Garfield, William McKinley & John F Kennedy), and two were injured in an attempted assassination but survived (Ronald Reagan & Theodore Roosevelt), including 30 officially verifiable assassinations and attempts on the US President's lives. Eek!
UK PM's Who Died Whilst In Office of Natural Causes
Hmm. Hardly exciting, but have you ever read anything so British? One PM died from too much boozing, one died attending a midnight wake, and another died of sheer bloody stubbornness.
UK Prime Minster's Assassinated Whilst in Office
Now! Although this assassination may pale into insignificance compared the sensational killings of US Presidents; Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F Kennedy, how much more of a British assassination can you get? The assassin politely excused himself first, his victim's final words were either "oh my God" or "oh my gosh", and an investigation into the murder itself was held... in a pub... probably over a few cheeky pints. Hurrah! What-what?
Failed Assassination Attempts on UK Prime MInisters Whilst In Office
The bomb exploded at 2:54 am; five people were killed, 31 were injured, and although the explosion destroyed part of the PM's room, she escaped unhurt and (having dressed first) was led to safety by the Police. Norman Tebbit - the then President for the Board of Trade, whose wife was physically disabled in the blast - when asked by hospital staff if he had any allergies, he replied "yes... bombs". The manager of a local Marks & Spencer's was was promptly asked to open his store a whole hour earlier so those whose clothes had been damaged could purchase some suitable attire. Read more.
John Major: on 7th February 1991, as British PM John Major and his War Cabinet were meeting at 10 Downing Street to discuss the Iraq War, three mortar shells were launched from a white transit van parked at Horse Guard's Avenue (100 metres away) by the IRA. Each mortar round was 4 1/2 feet long, weighed 140lbs and carried a 40lbs of Semtex.
Two of the shells missed their target and landed on Mountbatten Green and one landed in the back garden of No 10, just a few yards from the cabinet office... but owing to bomb-proof glass none of the cabinet were hurt. One final explosive charge was used to detonate the white transit van itself, to limit the amount of forensic evidence left behind. Read more.
So, what are the odds of a world leader (in this case a UK Prime Minister) being assassinated? As seen above, it's a dangerous job, so let's remind ourselves of the statistics:
Total number of UK Prime Ministers - 42 (US President figures in blue)
IMPORTANT UPDATE: This blog post was written just prior to the incident of 22nd March 2017, when an unknown assailant tried to attack the House of Commons. Read more.
If you "enjoyed" this blog post, why not take a peek at; Serial Killers as Siblings, Serial Killer's Nicknames, Serial Killers Who Were Never Caught, London's Deadliest & Often Forgotten Disasters, Are More Serial KIllers Born During a Full Moon, Killer's Birthdays / Star Signs, Serial Killers Who Were On TV, Celebrities Who Have Killed, London's Railway of Death, Serial Killers as Kids and the World's Weirdest Death Rituals.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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