Who's Who - Sir Edward Grey

Sir Edward Grey Sir Edward Grey, Viscount Grey of Fallodon (1862-1933), was born in 1862.

Educated at Winchester and Balliol College, Oxford, Grey was elected to Parliament as a Liberal member in 1892, representing the seat of Berwick-on-Tweed.  Grey served twice as Foreign Secretary, firstly from 1892-95 in Gladstone's final administration, and then from 1905-16 in Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Herbert Henry Asquith's governments.

Sometimes criticised for a certain opacity in his administration of British foreign policy, Grey saw the defence of France against German aggression as a key policy component, consequently entering into an agreement with France and Russia, each guaranteeing to come to the aid of the others in the event of war.  Unfortunately much of Grey's diplomacy was conducted behind closed doors, and was not made sufficiently public as to act as a deterrent to German policy.

It is argued that had Grey clearly stated in late July 1914 that Britain either would - or would not - support France in the event of war, war itself could have been avoided.  In short, if Britain had declared early support for France it is suggested that Germany would have convinced Austria-Hungary to settle with Serbia rather than declare war.  Similarly, if Britain had made clear that she would remain neutral in the event of war, France (and possibly Russia) would have attempted to seek a resolution.

In any event, once Germany declared war against France on 3 August and invaded neutral Belgium the following day, Britain entered the war against Germany, Grey citing an 'obligation of honour' to France and Belgium - the latter through a 19th century treaty guaranteeing Belgian neutrality.

The nature of Grey's diplomacy led to dispute within his own party, and within the opposition Labour Party.  Charles Trevelyan, the Liberal Secretary of the Board of Education, resigned from the government in protest over Grey's handling of the matter.

Grey himself was shocked by the turn of events, issuing his famous warning, "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."  His Balkan policy was blamed for antagonising Turkey and Bulgaria, and for complicating relations with Greece and Roumania, leading to his exclusion from Prime Minister Asquith's Inner War Cabinet in November 1915.

With Lloyd George's ascent to power as Prime Minister in December 1916, Grey was replaced by Balfour as Foreign Secretary.  Ennobled earlier that year in July as Viscount Grey of Fallodon, he subsequently became Leader of the House of Lords.

Having published his Memoirs in 1925, Sir Edward Grey died on 7 September 1933.

The first zeppelin raid on London was on 31 May 1915.  Earlier raids in January 1915 had avoided London.  The London raid resulted in 28 deaths and 60 injuries.

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