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Churchill’s Family Cabinet

Churchill’s family unites for Winston’s daughter’s 90th birthday.

Mary Soames (centre in blue) and family
By The Evening Standard staff reporter

THE EVENING STANDARD, 18 September 2012—As Winston’s last surviving child, Mary, celebrates her 90th, her daughter Emma Soames gathers the clan for a birthday power portrait.

It’s quite something when your mother hits the great age of 90. The desire to celebrate is overwhelming — even when she has five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren scattered across the globe, who all had to be rounded up for this auspicious day.

The first problem was to find a dining table long enough to seat 27 rather large people. Luckily my “baby” brother Rupert and his brilliantly long- suffering wife Milly have just the place in Buckinghamshire where we all repaired for a majorly noisy, joyous lunch of Soamesian proportions.

The menu included beef bred from Rupert’s herd (the bereaved mother gazing mournfully through the garden fence) and the guest list included my daughter’s new fiancé, and my niece’s smart boyfriend, who has whisked her off to live in Hong Kong, as well as dogs of various ages, sizes and standards of behaviour. The only absentee was Harry Soames, Nicholas’s eldest son, who sells yachts to oligarchs in Monte Carlo.

It was an occasion where we all realised how lucky we are to have such a benign, loving mother and grandmother who has lived an extraordinary life wherein she still mixes fun and duty with charm and aplomb.

She is a woman for whom the word matriarch was coined. But also we realised how blessed we are to all like each other. A lot. There was no aggravation about who should sit where, no tantrums, just a bad moment when one of the dogs made off with what was left of the birthday cake. And as we drank our mother’s health there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Winston’s winners

1. Mary Soames, 90

Youngest daughter and only surviving child of Sir Winston Churchill, matriarch

2. Nicholas Soames, 64

Son of Mary, MP for East Sussex and big brother

3. Emma Soames, 63

Daughter of Mary, former editor of Tatler, the Telegraph Magazine and now editor-at-large of Saga Magazine

4. Jeremy Soames, 61

Son of Mary, chairman of an insurance company

5. Charlotte Peel, 58

Daughter of Mary

6. Rupert Soames, 53

Son of Mary and the baby of her five children — he is CEO of Aggreko, the temporary power hire company

7. Serena Soames, 53

Wife of Nicholas

8. Susanna Soames, 55

Wife of Jeremy

9. Will Peel, 63

Husband of Charlotte, Lord Chamberlain of The Royal Household

10. Milly Soames, 53

Wife of Rupert

11. Isabella Soames, 15

Daughter of Nicholas

12. Christopher Soames, 11

Son of Nicholas and youngest great-grandson of Sir Winston

13. Emily Macmanus, 29

Daughter of Emma Soames, a solicitor at Mischcon de Reya, recently engaged

14 & 15. Gemma Soames, 32, and Flora Soames, 30

Daughters of Jeremy, Gemma is a freelance writer living in Hong Kong, Flora is an interior decorator

16. Archie Soames, 24

Son of Jeremy, investment banker

17. Clementine Fraser, 35

Daughter of Charlotte from her marriage to Richard Hambro, was once Princess Diana’s bridesmaid and is now a freelance gardening writer

18. Antonia Peel, 20

Daughter of Charlotte, studying at Oxford Brookes

19. Arthur Soames, 22

Son of Rupert, just down from Oxford and on his way to Sandhurst

20. Daisy Soames, 20

Daughter of Rupert, in her second year at Trinity College, Dublin

21. Jack Soames, 17

Son of Rupert, master of Radley College Beagles

22. Orlando Fraser, 45

Married to Clementine, daughter of Charlotte and historian Antonia Fraser’s son, barrister.

23 & 24. Ruby Fraser, five, and Alice Fraser, 18 months

Daughters of Clementine, Ruby has just started big school. Alice likes her sisters’ toys

25. Christabel Fraser, three

Daughter of Clementine, likes Tom & Jerry and playing in the garden

… and the dogs

26. Panda

27. Zebedee

28. Beetle

29. Poochin

30. Enid

Read the entire story at The Evening Standard

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