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Conservative David Cameron becomes new British PM

Photo by John Stillwell

Photo by John Stillwell

LONDON -- Conservative leader David Cameron became Britain's youngest prime minister in almost 200 years Tuesday, after Gordon Brown stepped down and ended 13 years of Labour at the helm of the government.

In a carefully choreographed dance, Cameron visited Buckingham Palace and was asked to form a government by Queen Elizabeth II less than an hour after Brown himself tendered his resignation to the monarch.

Cameron, whose party won the most House of Commons seats in last week's election but fell just short of a majority, is, at 43, the youngest British leader since Lord Liverpool in 1812.

The high political drama came as the Conservatives and the third-place Liberal Democrats hammered out the details of a coalition deal after the country's inconclusive election.

Standing outside 10 Downing St. alongside his wife Sarah, Brown announced he would travel to see the monarch to resign -- allowing Cameron to take office, possibly as part of deal with Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

"I wish the next prime minister well as he makes the important choices for the future," said Brown. "Only those who have held the office of prime minister can understand the full weight of its responsibilities and its great capacity for good."

Brown said he had "loved the job, not for its prestige, its titles and its ceremony, which I do not love at all."

"No, I loved the job for its potential to make this country I love fairer, more tolerant, more green, more democratic, more prosperous, more just -- truly a greater Britain."

After his brief statement, the 59-year-old Brown walked hand-in-hand with his wife and young sons John and Fraser down Downing Street, where a car waited to take him to the palace.