Duncan Sandys
Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 (24 January 1908 – 26 November 1987) was a British politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and a minister in successive Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 governments in the 1950s and 1960s. He was for some years the son-in-law of Sir Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...


Early life

Sandys was the son of George John Sandys
George John Sandys
George John Sandys was a British diplomat and Conservative politician.Sandys was educated at Clifton College and Pembroke College, Oxford. He served in the South African War and in the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War, during which he was wounded. He was Member of Parliament for...

, a Conservative member of parliament (1910–1918) and was educated at Eton College
Eton College
Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor"....

 and Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

. He entered the diplomatic service in 1930, serving at the Foreign Office in London as well as at the embassy in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...


He became Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP) for Norwood
Norwood (UK Parliament constituency)
Norwood was a parliamentary constituency in South London which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom by the first past the post system.-History:...

 in South London
South London
South London is the southern part of London, England, United Kingdom.According to the 2011 official Boundary Commission for England definition, South London includes the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Southwark, Sutton and...

 in 1935. In the same year, he married Diana Churchill
Diana Churchill
Diana Spencer-Churchill was the eldest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill .- Personal life :...

, daughter of the future prime minister (after being opposed at Norwood by a candidate put up by Randolph Churchill
Randolph Churchill
Major Randolph Frederick Edward Spencer-Churchill, MBE was the son of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine. He was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston from 1940 to 1945....


In May 1935 he was in effect saying that Germany should have a predominant place in central Europe, so as to avoid clashing with Britain as an Imperial Power.

The Duncan Sandys case

In 1938 Sandys asked questions in the House of Commons on matters of national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

. He was subsequently approached by two unidentified men, presumably representing the secret service
Secret service
A secret service describes a government agency, or the activities of a government agency, concerned with the gathering of intelligence data. The tasks and powers of a secret service can vary greatly from one country to another. For instance, a country may establish a secret service which has some...

s, and threatened with prosecution under section 6 of the Official Secrets Act 1920
Official Secrets Act 1920
The Official Secrets Act 1920 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.-Section 1 - Unauthorised use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation, and false documents:Sections 1 and provide:...

. Sandys reported the matter to the Committee of Privileges who held that the disclosures of Parliament were not subject to the legislation though an MP could be disciplined by the House. The Official Secrets Act 1939
Official Secrets Act 1939
The Official Secrets Act 1939 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It substitutes a new section 6 into the Official Secrets Act 1920, which limits the scope of that offence to offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911...

 was enacted in reaction to this incident.


In 1937 Sandys was commissioned into the 51st (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

, Territorial Army. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he fought with the British Expeditionary Force in Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 and was wounded in action in 1941, giving him a permanent limp. From this time he had a desk job as the Finance Member of the Army Council. His father-in-law gave him his first ministerial post during the wartime Coalition Government. While a Minister he was also Chairman of a War Cabinet Committee for defence against German flying bombs and rockets, where he frequently clashed with the scientist and intelligence expert RV Jones. However, he lost his seat in the 1945 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1945
The United Kingdom general election of 1945 was a general election held on 5 July 1945, with polls in some constituencies delayed until 12 July and in Nelson and Colne until 19 July, due to local wakes weeks. The results were counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to...

. He resigned his commission as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1946.


Sandys was responsible for establishing the European Movement
European Movement
The European Movement International is a lobbying association that coordinates the efforts of associations and national councils with the goal of promoting European integration, and disseminating information about it.-History:...

 in Britain in 1947 and served as a member of the European Consultative Assembly in 1950 to 1951. He was elected to Parliament once again in 1950 for Streatham
Streatham (UK Parliament constituency)
Streatham is a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.-Boundaries:...

 and, when the Conservatives regained power, he was appointed as Minister of Supply
Minister of Supply
The Minister of Supply was the minister in the British Government responsible for the Ministry of Supply, which existed to co-ordinate the supply of equipment to the national armed forces...

 in 1951. For most of his time as Minister of Supply, his Private Secretary was Jack Charles
Jack Charles
Jack Charles was a British civil servant and Director of Establishments for the Greater London Council.He was educated at Ilford County High School, Essex....

. As Minister of Housing from 1954, he introduced the Clean Air Act
Clean Air Act
A Clean Air Act is one of a number of pieces of legislation relating to the reduction of airborne contaminants, smog and air pollution in general. The use by governments to enforce clean air standards has contributed to an improvement in human health and longer life spans...

 and in 1955 introduced green belts. He was appointed Minister of Defence
Minister of Defence (UK)
The post of Minister of Defence was responsible for co-ordination of defence and security from its creation in 1940 until its abolition in 1964. The post was a Cabinet level post and generally ranked above the three service ministers, some of whom, however, continued to also serve in...

 in 1957 and quickly produced the 1957 Defence White Paper
1957 Defence White Paper
The 1957 White Paper on Defence was a British white paper setting forth the perceived future of the British military. It had profound effects on all aspects of the defence industry but probably the most affected was the British aircraft industry...

 that proposed a radical shift in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 by ending the use of fighter aircraft in favour of missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

 technology. Though later Ministers reversed the policy, the lost orders and cuts in research were responsible for several aircraft manufacturers going out of business. As Minister of Defence he saw the rationalization (i.e. merger) of much of the British military aircraft and engine industry.

He divorced his first wife (Diana Churchill
Diana Churchill
Diana Spencer-Churchill was the eldest daughter of Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill .- Personal life :...

) in 1960 and married Marie-Claire (née Schmitt, previously married to Viscount Hudson) in 1962, the marriage lasting until his death. It has long been speculated that he may have been the 'headless man' whose identity was concealed during the (then considered) scandalous divorce trial of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll in 1963.

Sandys continued as a minister at the Commonwealth Relations Office, later combining it with the Colonies Office, until the Conservative government fell from power in 1964. In this role he was responsible for granting several colonies their independence.

He remained in the Shadow Cabinet until 1966 when he was sacked by Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

. He had strongly supported Ian Smith
Ian Smith
Ian Douglas Smith GCLM ID was a politician active in the government of Southern Rhodesia, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe Rhodesia and Zimbabwe from 1948 to 1987, most notably serving as Prime Minister of Rhodesia from 13 April 1964 to 1 June 1979...

 in the dispute over Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...

's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. He was not offered a post when the Conservatives won the 1970 general election, but instead served as Leader of the United Kingdom delegation to the Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 and Western European Union
Western European Union
The Western European Union was an international organisation tasked with implementing the Modified Treaty of Brussels , an amended version of the original 1948 Treaty of Brussels...

 until 1972 when he announced his retirement. The next year he was made a Companion of Honour.

In 1974 he retired from Parliament and was awarded a life peerage. He followed the example of George Brown
George Brown, Baron George-Brown
George Alfred Brown, Baron George-Brown, PC was a British Labour politician, who served as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970, and served in a number of positions in the Cabinet, most notably as Foreign Secretary, in the Labour Government of the 1960s...

 and incorporated his first name in the title Baron Duncan-Sandys, of the City of Westminster
City of Westminster
The City of Westminster is a London borough occupying much of the central area of London, England, including most of the West End. It is located to the west of and adjoining the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary...

. He was an active early member of the Conservative Monday Club
Conservative Monday Club
The Conservative Monday Club is a British pressure group "on the right-wing" of the Conservative Party.-Overview:...



Children of Diana Churchill and Lord Duncan-Sandys:
  • The Hon. Julian Sandys (19 September 1936 – 15 August 1997)
  • The Hon. Edwina Sandys
    Edwina Sandys
    Edwina Sandys was born 22 December 1938. She is the second child of Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys and Diana Churchill, and a granddaughter of the statesman Sir Winston Churchill. She has been married twice. Her first husband, Piers Dixon, formerly represented Truro as the Conservative...

     (b. 22 December 1938)
  • The Hon. Celia Sandys (b. 18 May 1943); married firstly Michael Kennedy and secondly Dennis Walters
    Dennis Walters
    Sir Dennis Murray Walters MBE was a British Conservative politician, Member of Parliament for Westbury.-Early life:The son of Douglas Walters and Clara Pomello, Walters is of English and Italian descent and was brought up as a Roman Catholic...

     (divorced 1979).

He has another child, Laura Sandys
Laura Sandys
Laura Jane Sandys is a British Conservative Party politician. She has been the Member of Parliament for South Thanet since the general election on 6 May 2010.-Early life:...

, Conservative Member of Parliament for Thanet South, by his second wife Marie Claire Schmitt, although Laura is often reported incorrectly to be 'related to Winston Churchill'.


Among his other interests were historic architecture. He formed the Civic Trust in 1956 and was its President; the Royal Institution of British Architects made him an honorary Fellow in 1968, and the Royal Town Planning Institute made him an honorary member. He was also a trustee of the World Security Trust.

His business activities included a Directorship of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation
Ashanti Goldfields Corporation
This is the article on the mining company. For the football club of the same name see Ashanti Gold SC.The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation is a gold mining company based in Ghana that was founded by Edwin Cade. The Ashanti Mine, located at Obuasi, 56 km south of Kumasi, has been producing since 1897...

, which was later part of Lonrho of which he became Chairman. He was therefore caught up in the scandal in which Lonrho was revealed to have bribed several African countries and broken international sanctions against Rhodesia
Rhodesia , officially the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970, was an unrecognised state located in southern Africa that existed between 1965 and 1979 following its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom on 11 November 1965...


External links

Career summary

  • Coalition Government
    • 20 July 1941 - 7 February 1943 Financial Secretary to the War Office
    • 7 February 1943 - 21 November 1944 Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Supply
    • 21 November 1944 - 25 May 1945 Minister of Works
  • Caretaker Government
    • 25 May 1945 - 26 July 1945 Minister of Works
  • Conservative Government
    • 31 October 1951 - 18 October 1954 Minister of Supply
    • 18 October 1954 - 13 January 1957 Minister of Housing and Local Government
    • 13 January 1957 - 14 October 1959 Minister of Defence
    • 14 October 1959 - 27 July 1960 Minister of Aviation
    • 27 July 1960 - 13 July 1962 Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
    • 13 July 1962 - 16 October 1964 Secretary of State for the Colonies and Commonwealth Relations
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