This past month marked the fifty-fourth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill on 24 January 1965. The following day, The Times printed this letter sent to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the President of India:
“It is with profound sorrow that the Government and people of India have learnt of the passing away of the Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill, the greatest Englishman we have known. The magic of his personality and his mastery of words renewed faith in freedom in [the] most difficult years of the Second World War. He left his imprint on the face of Europe and the world. His unforgettable services will be cherished for centuries. I convey to Your Majesty, the British Government and the people of Britain, our deepest sympathy in your great loss. It must be some comfort for you to know that your grief is shared by millions all over the world.”
Radhakrishnan (1888–1975) was one of India’s most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy. In 1936 he became the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at Oxford making him the first Indian to hold a professorial chair at Britain’s oldest university. He continued to hold the chair during the war years when Churchill was Prime Minister before returning to his homeland to begin a political career following Indian independence in 1947.