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Churchill and the Monarchy

'You are Monarchial No. 1 and value tradition, form and ceremony.' But was Clementine Churchill's encomium of her husband always reflected in Winston's personal relations with Britain's kings and queens over six decades? Philip Ziegler presents an account of a colourful but chequered relationship.

Clementine Churchill wrote to reproach her husband when he had failed to do his duty as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports by meeting Queen Juliana on her arrival at Dover. 'It was just a slip,' she added, 'because you are Monarchial No. 1 and value tradition, form and ceremony.'

'Fealty to the monarch was a religion with the prime minister', the Canadian historian, Brian Villa, more recently concluded. 'His respect for the monarchy amounted almost to idolatry', affirmed his private secretary, Sir John Colville. If the general public were asked for its impression of Churchill and the crown, the image that would most probably come to mind would be that of the bare-headed old statesman standing before a slim, young queen, his attitude a nice blend of the deferential and the avuncular', his expression radiant with affection. Like most popular images it is substantially correct; like most popular images it conceals a multitude of qualifications and tells only part of the truth.

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