Hyde Park Gate, London: P.A. Reuter Photos Ltd., 25 February 1961. Photograph. This original press photo shows Sir Winston S. Churchill meeting the son and daughter of his bodyguard, Edmund Murray. This image measures 11.5 x 9.5 in (29.2 x 24.1 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is good plus. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scuffing with only minor edge wear, original crop marks, and finger prints in the right margin original to the photograph’s developing. The verso bears the copyright stamp “P.A. Reuter Photos Ltd.”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph from February 1961, and a typed caption. The original caption is titled “THE NIGHT WILLIAM AND EILEEN MET SIR WINSTON” and reads in full “A smile, a word and a handshake from SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL… It’s a moment to remember for WILLIAM MURRAY, 10 1/2, and his 12-year-old sister EILEEN as they are presented to Sir Winston by their father, Detective-Sergeant EDMUND MURRAY (hatless, left), outside Sir Winston’s London home at Hyde Park Gate to-night (Saturday). Sir Winston and Sergeant Murray, his personal detective, had just driven in from London Airport. They had flown back from the Riviera after Sir Winston’s two-weeks’ holiday. February 25th 1961”
Edmund Murray served in the Foreign Legion and the London Metropolitan Police before becoming Churchill’s bodyguard in 1950, a role that he filled until Churchill’s death in 1965. The two men shared a warm friendship and a mutual interest in amateur painting. It was to Murray that Churchill gifted the last painting he ever completed. At the Ninth International Churchill Conference of 13 June 1992 Murray spoke warmly of his former employer, “Ladies and gentleman, the Churchill I knew was the epitome of all that was ever good and fine in our island race, and he was always proud as well of his American heritage. Yes, he made mistakes, but then only those who do nothing do not. Always his aim was to make Britain great, and to join all European countries together as one in peace and freedom."
This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, including physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Photo departments would often take brush, paint, pencil, and marker to the surface of photographs themselves to edit them before publication. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art.
This original press photograph was taken in the twilight of Churchill’s remarkable life and career. Winston S. Churchill was 80 years old when he resigned his second and final premiership on 5 April 1955. During his final decade, Churchill passed "into a living national memorial" of the time he had lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he had served. The day after Churchill died, on 25 January 1965, the Queen sent a message to Parliament announcing: "Confident in the support of Parliament for the due acknowledgement of our debt of gratitude and in thanksgiving for the life and example of a national hero" and concluded "I have directed that Sir Winston's body shall lie in State in Westminster Hall and that thereafter the funeral service shall be held in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.” Churchill's state funeral was attended by the Queen herself, other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries. It was the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005348