The International Churchill Society (ICS) is pleased to announce that Lady Williams of Elvel and former Prime Ministers Sir John Major and Gordon Brown have all agreed to become honorary members of the Society. They join His Grace the Duke of Marlborough and David Cameron in this capacity. All five of the current honorary members have been actively involved with ICS just this year. The Duke, Mr. Cameron, and Mr. Brown have each contributed a foreword to an issue of Finest Hour in 2020 while Lady Williams and Sir John—having participated in past ICS gatherings—will both be participating in this year’s virtual conference.
Lady Williams of Elvel: At the suggestion of her uncle R. A. Butler, Jane Portal went to work as a secretary for Winston Churchill in 1949. Another of her uncles, Sir Charles Portal, served as the professional head of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Jane continued to work for Churchill until he retired as prime minister in 1955. She later married Charles Williams, who became Baron Williams of Elvel in 1985. Her talk with Churchill granddaughter the Hon. Celia Sandys was one of the highlights of the 2017 ICS conference. In accepting the honor, Lady Williams said that she was “very pleased to be joining along with her friends Sir John Major and Gordon Brown.”
The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. Previously, in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, he served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir John was Member of Parliament for Huntingdon from 1979 to 2001. In 1999 HM The Queen made him a Companion of Honour for his work on the Northern Ireland Peace Process, and in 2005 a Knight Companion of The Most Noble Order of the Garter. In 2013, Sir John presented the Sir Winston Churchill Award to HRH The Prince of Wales on behalf of ICS-UK. In addition to his political memoirs, Sir John has published books about the social history of Cricket and Music Hall.
The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. Previous to this he served for ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister Tony Blair and was Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath from 1983 to 2015. In 2012 Mr. Brown was appointed United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. Mr. Brown is in fact “Dr.” Brown having earned his Ph.D. under the direction of the late Paul Addison, one of the leading Churchill scholars of his time. Brown was also good friends with the late Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer and a former honorary member of ICS. In his foreword to the current issue of Finest Hour, which is about “Churchill and Scotland,” Mr. Brown writes about the importance of rescuing “Churchill’s Scottish connections from the condescension of posterity.”
In announcing the names of the newest honorary members of the Churchill Society, Chairman Laurence Geller noted that “our first honorary member was Clementine Churchill. That set the standard against which all subsequent honorary members have been measured. We have been honored through the years to have had many Churchill family members and associates join with an impressive array of dignitaries in the exclusive circle of ICS honorary membership including Pamela Harriman and Margaret Thatcher. Through their own careers as well as their service to ICS, Lady Williams, Sir John, and Mr. Brown have more than merited the right to be included in this elite group.”