- Queen Elizabeth II, monarch who celebrated Silver Jubilee in 1977.
- James Callaghan, Labour Prime Minister until May 4th (since 1976).
- Margaret Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister from May 4th.
- Jimmy Carter, US President since 1977.
- Pope John Paul II, Pope since 1978.
- Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations since 1972.
- Pol Pot, Leader of the Khmer Rouge.
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran. Toppled in this year.
- Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayotollah of Iran.
Key Events in Britain, 1979
James Callaghan, British Prime Minister, returned from an international summit on the 10th to a Britain in a state of industrial unrest. The Sun newspaper reported his comments with a famous headline: "Crisis? What Crisis?". On the 22nd January, tens of thousands of public-workers strike in the beginning of what became known as the Winter of Discontent. The dead are unburied, waste is uncollected and is allowed to build up in the streets. After a 12% fall in the value of the pound, James Callaghan has already sought a loan from the International Monetary Fund but now his options are few. The nail is in the coffin of the Labour Government.
Trevor Francis signs for Nottingham Forest whilst Saint Lucia gains independance from the United Kingdom, yet another British colony to fall.
The Scots vote for home rule but this isn't implemented because the last 40% of the electorate fail to support the proposal. Wales votes against home rule. In Manchester, there is an explosion at the Golborne Colliery killing 3 men. The IRA shoot dead Sir Richard Sykes, Ambassador to the Netherlands whilst he visits the Hague. The Irish National Liberation Army will take the life of the Conservative Northern Ireland spokesman, Airey Neave - a close confidant of Margaret Thatcher. James Callaghan's government loses a motion of confidence by one vote, forcing a general election and the Royal Navy withdraws from Malta.
April and May
In April, the Anti Nazi League and the Metropolitan Police clash in London. In May, politics is the priority. The London Underground Jubilee line is inaugurated on the 1st of the month and on the 4th of May, the Conservatives win the general election with Margaret Thatcher becoming the new Prime Minister. In other news, the price of milk increases more than 10% to 15 pence a pint.
June, July and August
On the 22nd June, the Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is cleared of allegations of attempted murder. He resigned from the Liberal leadership in 1976. In July, the Queen attended the 1000th annual sitting of the Tynwald on the Isle of Man. August saw the deaths of 3 competitors in the Fastnet Yacht Race and the release of John Stonehouse from jail. Stonehouse, a Labour MP, attempted to fake his own death in 1974. On the 27th, Lord Louis Mountbatten is assassinated by the IRA. The war hero was an uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh and cousin to the Queen. His daughter Patricia narrowly avoids death. On the same day, 18 British soldiers are killed at Warrenpoint. London mourns Mountbatten at a state funeral at which the Prince of Wales gives an emotional tribute.
September and October
On the 2nd September, the 12th victim of the Yorkshire Ripper is discovered. On the 21st, an RAF Harrier jet crashes in Wisbech killing 3 people. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines gain independance from Britain and Chairman Hua Guofeng visits Britain, becoming the first Chinese leader to do so.
On the 9th, 4 men are found guilty of killing paperboy Carl Bridgewater. The Times newspaper is published for the first time in a year after a dispute between management and unions suspended printing. On the 16th, Anthony Blunt is named as the fourth man in the Cambridge Spy Ring and on the 23rd, Thomas McMahon is sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Lord Mountbatten.
On the 4th December, the Hastie Fire in Hull leads to the deaths of 3 boys and begins the hunt for Bruce George Peter Lee, the UK's most prolific killer. Lord Soames is appointed as the transitional governor of Rhodesia to oversee its move to independence. On the 20th, the Thatcher government publishes Housing Bill which would give Council House tenants the right to buy their homes from next year.
Dame Gracie Fields, Merle Oberon and Joyce Grenfell OBE are lost from the world of showbusiness. Reginald Maudling and Sid Vicious also die.