February 26, 2023

Winston and Clementine Churchill at the Coronation of King George V

The Coronation of King George V took place in Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911. As Home Secretary, Winston Churchill received an invitation for both himself and his wife Clementine. The ceremony took place, however, less than a month after Clementine had given birth to their son Randolph on 28 May. In expectation of this, the King himself had taken special measures to accommodate the nursing mother.

Lord Knollys, the King’s secretary, wrote to the Home Secretary on 29 April: “I spoke to the King today about his giving Mrs. Churchill a ticket for his Box in Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Coronation. He said he should have much pleasure in giving her one, and you may like to know that he was very nice about it.”

The Churchills’ youngest daughter Mary takes up her mother’s story on the day of the Coronation: “A royal brougham called for her at her house and drove her to Westminster Abbey, so that she arrived at the latest possible moment; she watched the ceremony until after the actual crowning of the King, then she slipped discreetly away and was driven home to the hungering Randolph. This was the first of three Coronations at which both Winston and Clementine were destined to be present.”

Three days later, Churchill reflected on the event in a letter to Clementine: “It really was great fun, & I am sure you will long look back to our drive & will like to tell the P[uppy] K[itten] & the Chumbolly [family pet names for daughter Diana and son Randolph] all about it—so it will become a tradition in the family & they will hand it on to others whom we shall not see. Dear me, I have thought of you with tender love today.”

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This is the first in a three-part series looking at the Coronations which the Churchills attended. Next month will be about the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, and the following month will be about the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The Coronation of King Charles III is scheduled for 6 May.

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