A scion of two great families, Arthur James Balfour was born to wealth and privilege and possessed intellect and charm in legendary abundance. On succeeding his uncle as Prime Minister in 1902, it seemed that he had come into his inheritance; a true grandee, his path to the summit of power - if not guaranteed - seemed to be almost without obstruction. He held office longer than any other Cabinet minister and, in a fifty-year career, dealt with successes and defeats with similar equanimity. When he chose, he retreated into the insulated worlds of family, friends and ideas, and in each he was the unquestioned centre. Balfour was a Conservative, though never a true-blue Tory like the powerful squirearchy who viewed him with awe but often found him difficult to understand. Perhaps he was too many different things: a Scottish laird and an English sophisticate; a ferocious partisan and a celebrated philosopher; a champion of Christianity yet a defender of spiritualism; an Imperialist and a Zionist; an Etonian and a reformer of state education. A confirmed bachelor, for five decades he enjoyed a loving friendship with Lady Elcho. His own premiership was destroyed by party strife, yet he was the maker of the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1926 Balfour Definition of the Commonwealth and, aged seventy-three, dominated the pivotal 1921-2 Washington Naval Conference. His was a remarkable life, unimaginable today no matter one's talents or wealth. It is interesting to note that the enduring quip, 'Bob's your uncle', originally referred to the nephew of Robert, Marquess of Salisbury - Arthur Balfour.