Britain's Conservative Party leader William Hague greets supporters as he arrives at the party's headquarters in London. - Gulf News Archives

1997 William Hague became the youngest leader of Britain’s Conservative party in nearly 200 years when he defeated ex-finance minister Kenneth Clarke by a surprisingly wide margin. In a ballot of the Conservatives’ 164 surviving members of parliament, Hague, won 92 votes against 70 for Clarke. Two MPs abstained or spoiled their ballot papers. Hague, 36, succeeds former prime minister John Major, who announced his decision to step down as leader within hours of the Conservatives’ crushing defeat in the election at the hands of Tony Blair’s Labour party. A beaming Hague, Welsh Secretary for two years before the election, emerged from the House of Commons to proclaim that his first task was to unite a party whose deep divisions over Europe were magnified by the leadership campaign. “I see it as my job not only to lead the party but to heal its divisions. I owe it to every member of the party to make sure that I extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to all members of the party,” Hague said.

Other important events

1819 US ship Savannah arrives in Liverpool, England, marking the first Atlantic crossing by a steamship.

1850 Princess Louise of The Netherlands marries Crown Prince Karl of Sweden-Norway.

1867 Mexican Emperor Maximilian I is executed by firing squad on the orders of President Benito Juarez.

1933 Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky is granted political asylum in France.

1941 Germany and Italy expel US diplomats during Second World War.

1944 US troops take Saipan Island in Pacific from Japanese during Second World War.

1948 Columbia Records launches the long-playing record (LP) in New York City.

1953 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted of nuclear espionage for the Soviet Union, are executed in the US.

1961 Kuwait becomes independent of Britain.

1970 Conservative Party leader Edward Heath wins General Election.

1976 King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden marries Silvia Sommerlath.

1981 The three-stage European-designed Ariane 1 rocket blast off from Kourou, French Guyana.

1982 New underpass at the Dubai Clock Tower roundabout is inaugurated.

1984 Michael Jordan signs for the Chicago Bulls basketball team.

1987 Explosion in Barcelona department store garage kills 12 people and injures 31.

1992 Ireland approves Maastricht Treaty on European Union.

1995 UAE Federal Cabinet approves a draft law setting up the Abu Dhabi Radio and Television Authority.

1998 Serb troops seal Kosovo’s border with Albania.

1999 Britain’s Prince Edward weds Sophie Rhys-Jones at Windsor Castle and becomes the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

2001 A United Nations fuel barge sails into Kisangani, reopening the Congo River after war severed most important transportation route in 1998.

2006 The United Nations inaugurates its new Human Rights Council.

2007 French President Nicolas Sarkozy reshuffles his cabinet and makes Christine Lagarde the first woman economy minister.

2010 Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden weds her long time boyfriend and personal trainer Daniel Westling in the Storkyrkan cathedral in Stockholm.

2012 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is disqualified by the Supreme Court of the country.

2013 James Gandolfini, the Emmy-winning actor dies while on holiday in Rome, at the age of 51.

2014 Prince Felipe VI is sworn in as Spain’s king before both houses of parliament.