The announcement by the Pope that he is to resign prompted me to do a little bit of research, since I can just about remember who was Pope when I was a teenager but I wasn’t sure how many Popes there have actually been since I was born.
Anyway, having looked it up, I have (so far) lived at the same time as:
- Five Popes
- Six Archbishops of Canterbury
- Three Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople
- Fifty Moderators of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
- Six Secretary Generals of the United Nations
- Ten Presidents of the USA
- Seven Presidents of France
- Eight Chancellors of Germany
- Ten Taoiseachs of Ireland
- Ten Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom
- Forty Mayors of Evesham
- One Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
For the sake of the pedants who will undoubtedly be reading, I have counted repeat office holders only once (so, for example, Harold Wilson is just one Prime Minister despite serving two non-consecutive terms), and not included interim or caretaker office holders (unless, of course, they went on to become the office holder in their own right). However, I have counted both the mayors of Evesham from the year when the initial office holder resigned, as his successor was, despite also only serving for a partial term, officially designated mayor.
The individuals fortunate enough to hold these titles at the time of my birth were (in the same order as above):
- John XXIII
- Michael Ramsey
- Athenagoras I
- Nevile Davidson
- U Thant
- John F Kennedy
- Charles de Gaulle
- Konrad Adenauer
- Seán Lemass
- Harold Macmillan
- Cllr William Kimberley
- Queen Elizabeth II
With one notable exception, none of these lasted long enough for me to have any memories at all of them in their position from my childhood, although a few did survive long enough in retirement for me to recall their deaths.