London: Keystone Press Agency Ltd., May 1953. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill and his wife, Clementine, attending the Coronation parade for Queen Elizabeth II in Churchill’s Woodford constituency on 31 May 1953. The gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper measures 6 x 8.125 in (15.2 x 20.6 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is crisp and clean with only minor edge wear, some distortion to the upper edge as if it was once paperclipped, and light scuffing visible only under raking light. A scratch at Churchill’s feet appears original to the photograph’s developing out. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Keystone Press Agency Ltd.”, a Swedish copyright stamp of “Svenskt Pressfoto”, two stamps reading “Svenska Dagladets Bild-Arkiv” (Svenska Dagladets is a Stockholm daily newspaper, and bild-arkiv translates to photo archive), handwritten notations, and a typed caption reading, “SIR WINSTONE [sic] CHURCHILL, accompanied by his wife, took the salute at a civic parade today, the second day of the Coronation celebrations in Woodford, his constituency.”
While shooting with King George V in September 1928, Churchill remarked in a letter to Clementine that the King’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, then two and a half, was, “a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.” (Personal Letters of Winston and Clementine Churchill, p. 328) He could not guess that the young princess, then third in line for the throne, would become his Queen and he her first Prime Minister. Churchill continued to see early signs of promise in Elizabeth. During Churchill’s wartime premiership “In January 1944 he had proposed that when she became eighteen that April she should be given the title Elizabeth, Princess of Wales.” This photo was taken two days before the Coronation ceremony at the parade in his longtime constituency of Woodford. Newspapers reported that the Prime Minister’s appearance caused a mile-long traffic jam.
On the day of the Coronation Churchill gave a speech introducing the Royal Broadcast, "Here, at the summit of our world-wide community, is the lady who we respect because she is our Queen and whom we love because she is herself." This was not mere dutiful hyperbole. “Churchill established an early and excellent rapport with the new monarch, with whom, as all his entourage immediately spotted, he became besotted.” (Roberts, Walking With Destiny, p.929-930) The regard was mutual. It was Queen Elizabeth II who invested Churchill as a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The night before Churchill resigned his premiership, on 4 April 1955, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip paid Churchill an unprecedented honor, dining with him at 10 Downing Street. Churchill's after-dinner speech that evening was his last as Prime Minister." (Gilbert, VIII, p.1120) "Your Royal Highness... I was a Cavalry Subaltern in the Reign of Your Majesty's Great-great-Grandmother, Queen Victoria.... Never have the august duties wh fall upon the British Monarchy been discharged with more devotion than in the brilliant opening of Your Majesty's reign. We thank God... and vow ourselves anew to the sacred causes and wise and kindly way of life of wh Your Majesty is the young, gleaming champion."
When Churchill formally relinquished the premiership the next day at Buckingham Palace, the Queen proffered the signal courtesy of offering him a dukedom. And when Churchill died in 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.” She also attended - the first time in a century that a British monarch attended a commoner’s funeral. Item #005585