On Friday 30 January Parliament marked the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s state funeral with a wreath laying ceremony at the statue of Churchill in Members’ Lobby. The event was attended by invited guests including representatives from all three branches of Churchill’s family.
To commemorate Churchill’s contribution to Parliament, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP and Prime Minister David Cameron each gave a short speech. Nathania Ewruje, 17, Best Speaker in the English-Speaking Union’s (ESU) National Public Speaking Competition for Schools 2014 and subsequent winner of the ESU’s inaugural Winston Churchill Cup for Public Speaking, also read one of Churchill’s speeches.
Sir Winston Churchill
Churchill’s career in the House of Commons began in 1900 and spanned 64 years, the longest in the 20th century. His father Lord Randolph Churchill also served as an MP, so the young Churchill was exposed to parliamentary life from an early age. He described himself as “a child of the House of Commons”.
Whilst a Member of the Commons, Churchill sat for two parties, represented five constituencies and contested twenty-one elections. He held numerous ministerial positions and served as Prime Minister twice. He is known as Britain’s great wartime leader.
Churchill died on 24 January 1965, aged 90. By decree of HM Queen Elizabeth II he was given the rare honour of lying-in-state in Westminster Hall for three days before his coffin was transported by rail to the village of Bladon, where he is buried.
The Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“Winston Churchill was not only a great leader, but a great Briton and his contribution to this country must never be forgotten – we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His enduring legacy and influence on political life and British culture is testament to his formidable strength of character and remarkable achievements.”
Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP said:
“Sir Winston Churchill’s immeasurable contribution to the House of Commons, Parliament and the nation will never be forgotten. Although this ceremony marks 50 years since his funeral, his palpable legacy is alive throughout this place, from the very fabric and shape of the Chamber to the freedom of expression and liberty that we all enjoy. It is an honour to be part of this commemoration and to pay tribute to the great achievements of Sir Winston Churchill.”