Edward Heath, 89, the venerable Conservative Party politician who served as British prime minister from 1970 to 1974 and was his country's strongest advocate for European economic integration, died July 17 at his home in the southern city of Salisbury. The Guardian newspaper said he had pneumonia.
Mr. Heath, a political negotiator and strategist, musician, author and award-winning sportsman, was one of the most compelling and controversial statesmen in modern British history.
A staunch internationalist, his main political triumph was engineering the United Kingdom's 1973 entry into what is now the European Union. But his tenure at 10 Downing Street was marred by rage over economic crises and the "Bloody Sunday" attacks in Northern Ireland.
With morale diminished on the home front, he twice lost general elections in 1974 and then was overthrown as leader of his party. He retained his seat in the House of Commons, becoming its longest-serving member before retiring in 2001 as father of the House.
A Conservative stalwart, Mr. Heath nevertheless lost favor with many in his party over the issue of a combined European market. He was persistently critical of Conservatives opposed to a single European currency, maintaining that economic cooperation could prevent the sort of world war he had seen firsthand.
He reserved much of his ire for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had been Mr. Heath's education secretary and was a leading E.U. skeptic. Adding to his distaste was that Thatcher had been the one to defeat him as party leader in 1975.
"Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice," Mr. Heath was said to have shouted into a phone when Thatcher was forced out of office in 1990. That call ended what many called the "longest sulk in history."
Mr. Heath first came to prominence as a member of Parliament during the Suez Canal crisis of 1956. As chief Tory whip, he had helped engineer what seemed an improbable feat: keeping his party in power after the humiliating loss of the trade zone to the Egyptians.
He was amply rewarded, holding a series of wide-ranging governmental portfolios. In 1965, he led Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, becoming one of the first Tory leaders not of the aristocracy.
As a carpenter's son and scholarship student, his humble beginnings were used to appeal to voters and win back the prime ministership from Harold Wilson's Labor Party in 1970.
In office, Mr. Heath was thrust into the worst economic crisis in generations. Heavy unemployment, severe industrial strikes, inflation -- all during a harsh winter -- combined to create a combustible political atmosphere.
Moreover, escalating violence in Northern Ireland between Protestant paramilitary groups and the Irish Republican Army led Mr. Heath to deploy troops there and enforce direct rule over Northern Ireland. The 1972 "Bloody Sunday" killings took place under his watch, when British soldiers killed 14 unarmed Catholic civil rights protesters in Londonderry.
Mr. Heath's initial inquiry exonerated the soldiers, galvanizing Catholic rage.
During his tenure, protesters with terrific precision threw ink, paint and a sack of flour on him.
Losing national office in 1974 after years of rapid rise was said to have devastated Mr. Heath. He turned down Thatcher's offer to become Britain's ambassador to Washington and gave a series of cranky and quotable interviews.
Asked in 1992 about the Thatcher administration's most commendable act, he replied: "That she's gone."
Brooding of manner in the House, he surprised many with occasional bursts of collegiality. He was a bon vivant who hosted lavish parties and loved conducting symphony orchestras and sailing.
As skipper of the Morning Cloud, he led the English yachting team to victory during the 1971 Admiral's Cup ocean race. At home, he surrounded himself with fine paintings and a grand piano -- possessions he never enjoyed as a child.
Edward Richard George Heath was born in Broadstairs in the southeastern county of Kent. His father was a builder, his mother a ladies' maid who encouraged her son's interest in classical piano.
He won an organ scholarship to Balliol College at Oxford University, and his interests grew to include debate (he was president of the Oxford Union) and Conservative politics.
As head of Oxford's conservative association, he criticized Tory Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his ill-fated policy of appeasement toward Adolph Hitler.
Mr. Heath had hitchhiked throughout Europe to attend music festivals and, once, at a Nuremberg rally in 1937, he brushed shoulders with Hitler.
After graduation, he joined the Royal Artillery and rose to second-in-command of an artillery company that fought in Europe.
"I think my views on Europe have always been colored by my experiences during the war," he told the Times of London in 1996. "Those of us who did fight have been determined ever since that this wasn't going to be allowed to happen again."
He did merchant banking after the war, using the financial backing of fellow bank Conservatives to win a seat in the House of Commons in 1950. He represented the suburban southeast district of what is now Old Bexley and Sidcup.
With his first floor speech, calling for support of an early form of the E.U., he established himself as a vital voice on economic affairs.
As chief whip, he was a close confidant of Prime Minister Anthony Eden, under whose leadership his country collaborated with the French and Israelis to recapture the Suez Canal from the Egyptians. In his 1998 autobiography, Mr. Heath said he "did my utmost to change Eden's mind" because he feared when the news became known, it would create great public dissent.
The plan failed, largely because the United States declined to support the venture after it began. It led to Eden's resignation.
Mr. Heath said the queen's private secretary consulted him about a successor, and he recommended Harold Macmillan, then chancellor of the exchequer. In the new Macmillan government, Mr. Heath became minister of labor and then Lord Privy Seal, where he was a roving expert on political matters.
Mainly he championed Foreign Office matters in the House of Commons and lobbied for his country's entry into the European Economic Community, whose members included France, Italy and West Germany.
England already was the leading member of the European Free Trade Association, a group of nations that included Austria, Denmark and Portugal. Many in England felt the country, which still had significant colonial holdings and a prospering economy, had little to gain by joining the EEC.
With Macmillan's support, Mr. Heath carried his message abroad. "Europe must unite or perish," he told a group of European foreign ministers in 1961. "We are convinced that our destiny is intimately linked with yours."
French President Charles de Gaulle, fearing English domination most especially in language, vetoed further consideration in 1963 and 1967. At one pivotal meeting, the French foreign minister refused to shake hands with Mr. Heath. It took years of quiet negotiation, and de Gaulle's death, before Mr. Heath was successful.
Meanwhile, Macmillan resigned in 1963, following rising unemployment and fallout from the sex-and-spy scandal involving the secretary of state for war, John Profumo.
With Harold Wilson's election to prime minister, Mr. Heath became Tory leader. He succeeded the courtly, Eton-educated Alec Douglas-Home -- depicted by Wilson as a "scion of the effete establishment."
Mr. Heath made economic affairs the centerpiece of his campaign to succeed Wilson. At the time, England was suffering from the highest rate of inflation of any Western European country and the heaviest unemployment since the Great Depression. Mr. Heath saw the nationalized coal mines as uncompetitive compared with other European counterparts.
Once prime minister, he demanded that coal miners work overtime and weekends if they wanted raises. Instead, they went on strike, prompting coal shortages. Mr. Heath declared a state of emergency that limited electricity use to three days a week. It weakened national morale, even if exemptions were made for such "essential" industries as pubs, movie theaters and bingo parlors.
He called for a general election in February 1974 and rallied under the slogan "Who governs Britain?" -- meaning he or the striking coal miners. The strategy backfired when Wilson won the general election and settled the strike and made other concessions. Mr. Heath lost again that October in another general election Wilson was forced to call after a coalition of parties began defeating his proposals.
With a workable majority, Wilson promised a referendum -- England's first -- on entry into the European Common Market. It passed by a 2 to 1 margin, and Mr. Heath had his victory on the E.U., even if it happened under his successor.
Thereafter, he was something of a pariah in his own party, a two-time electoral loser who had failed to solve the economic crisis. The party turned to Thatcher for a new, rightward direction.
Knighted in 1992, he said he had no interest in assuming a seat in the House of Lords, as is customarily offered to former prime ministers. Instead, he spent more time on interests in sailing and music.
Once, after conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, he told The Washington Post, "One reason why it's better to wield a conductor's baton than lead a political party is that a symphony has fewer members."
Mr. Heath, who never married, leaves no immediate survivors.