William Whitelaw, 1st Viscount Whitelaw

William Stephen Ian Whitelaw, 1st Viscount Whitelaw, KT, CH, MC, PC, DL (28 June 1918 – 1 July 1999), often known as Willie Whitelaw, was a British Conservative politician who served in a wide number of Cabinet positions, most notably as home secretary from 1979 to 1983 and as de facto Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1988.[1][2][3] He was Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1991.[4]


The Viscount Whitelaw

Whitelaw in 1963
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
4 May 1979  10 January 1988
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Leader of the House of Lords
Lord President of the Council
In office
11 June 1983  10 January 1988
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Baroness Young
(Leader of Lords)
John Biffen
(President of Council)
Succeeded byThe Lord Belstead
(Leader of Lords)
John Wakeham
(President of Council)
Secretary of State for the Home Department
In office
4 May 1979  11 June 1983
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byMerlyn Rees
Succeeded byLeon Brittan
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
11 April 1976  4 May 1979
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byIan Gilmour
Succeeded byMerlyn Rees
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
12 February 1975  7 August 1991
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byReginald Maudling (1972)
Succeeded byPeter Lilley (1998)
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
4 March 1974  11 February 1975
LeaderEdward Heath
Preceded byPeter Carington
Succeeded byPeter Thorneycroft
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
2 December 1973  4 March 1974
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byMaurice Macmillan
Succeeded byMichael Foot
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
24 March 1972  2 December 1973
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byFrancis Pym
Leader of the House of Commons
Lord President of the Council
In office
20 June 1970  7 April 1972
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byFred Peart
Succeeded byRobert Carr
Chief Whip of the Conservative Party
In office
16 October 1964  20 June 1970
LeaderSir Alec Douglas-Home
Edward Heath
Preceded byMartin Redmayne
Succeeded byFrancis Pym
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour
In office
16 July 1962  16 October 1964
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan
Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded byAlan Green
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
6 March 1961  16 July 1962
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Macmillan
Preceded byPaul Bryan
Succeeded byGordon Campbell
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 June 1983  1 July 1999
Hereditary peerage
Member of Parliament
for Penrith and The Border
In office
26 May 1955  11 June 1983
Preceded byDonald Scott
Succeeded byDavid Maclean
Personal details
Born
William Stephen Ian Whitelaw

(1918-06-28)28 June 1918
Nairn, Scotland
Died1 July 1999(1999-07-01) (aged 81)
Penrith, Cumbria, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
(m. 1943)
Children4
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
Years of service1939–1946
RankMajor
UnitScots Guards
Battles/warsWorld War II

After the Conservative Party won an unexpected victory at the 1970 general election, Whitelaw was appointed as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council by Prime Minister Edward Heath. After the suspension of the Stormont Parliament resulted in the imposition of direct rule, Whitelaw served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1972 to 1973. He also served under Heath as Secretary of State for Employment from 1973 to 1974 and as Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1974 to 1975.

Whitelaw served Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher throughout her leadership of the Conservative Party as deputy party leader. He served as de facto Deputy Prime Minister between 1979 and 1988 and as Home Secretary from 1979 to 1983. He stepped down as a Member of Parliament at the 1983 general election, and was appointed as a Member of the House of Lords. He served as Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council from 1983 to 1988. He was a captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews.[5]