Winston Churchill saw ‘hope and promise’ in Queen Elizabeth II

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Her Majesty’s historic 70-year reign will be recognised across the nation during a special four-day weekend next month. As the longest-reigning British monarch, the Queen is the first to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. Events during the weekend include: Trooping the Colour, the monarch’s annual birthday parade; the Royal Derby at Epsom Derby and the Platinum Pageant. 

On Sunday June 5, the pageant will close the royal extravaganza by bringing to life iconic moments from Her Majesty’s reign, as well as showcasing our changing society over the past seven decades. 

Since her accession to the throne in 1952, the monarch has seen significant shifts within her constituency, country and the Commonwealth. 

The Queen has seen 14 prime ministers during her 70-year reign — her first Prime Minister was Winston Churchill, who was in office from 1940 to 1945, during World War 2, and again from 1951 to 1955.

Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. 

Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames MP, has claimed that the former Prime Minister was “in tears” when the king died, but saw “hope and promise” in his heir, Princess Elizabeth. 

He told the 2018 documentary, ‘Elizabeth: Our Queen’: “Jock Colville [Churchill’s Private Secretary] goes upstairs to tell my grandfather that the king has died.

“And my grandfather is in floods of tears, sitting up in bed, very emotional. And said to Jock Colville: ‘Jock, imagine something happening that’s the worst thing in the whole world.’

“And Jock Colville thought that perhaps one of my grandfather’s own children had died, Randolph had died, my uncle Randolph Churchill. And he said: ‘But Prime Minister, the King has died.’

“He [Churchill] says: ‘I know, it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in my life.’”

At the time, Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip. 

Upon learning the news of her father’s death, she and Philip returned to the UK where Churchill met the new Queen. 

In Elizabeth, the former Prime Minister saw a monarch he could guide.

Mr Soames said: “I think that my grandfather saw and realised in the new Queen that this was the new Elizabethan era. 

“And it was a modern era and an era full of hope and promise. 

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“And he loved her, I mean he did love the Queen, there’s no doubt. He absolutely adored her.” 

It’s been widely reported that Churchill and the Queen shared an enduring friendship, and when he stepped down due to failing health, Her Majesty wrote the former prime minister a handwritten letter. 

In the letter, the monarch said that no one who succeeded him would “hold the place of my first prime minister to whom both my husband and I owe so much and for whose wise guidance during the early years of my reign I shall always be so profoundly grateful.”

Churchill resigned in 1955, but continued to sit as MP for Woodford until he retired from politics in 1964.

He died a year later and was granted the honour of a state funeral.

His funeral was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where the Queen broke protocol to convey her reverence for the late prime minister. 

As the head of state, she is supposed to be the last person to show up at any function, but in order to show utmost respect to Churchill’s family, she decided to arrive before them. 

Mr Soames explained what the Queen’s gesture meant to his family, he said: “It is absolutely exceptional if not unique for the Queen to grant precedence to anyone. 

“For her to arrive before the coffin and before my grandfather was a beautiful and very touching gesture.”

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