(To Laurence Geller) It’s been a long time since we last had the opportunity to talk, but from the invitation of the Churchill Centre I see that you keep taking part in wonderful initiatives. Unfortunately I won’t be able to join you in this occasion but I’d like to make a contribution of $10,000. I hope you have an enjoyable evening with General Franks and that the spirit of the Churchillians keeps growing and spreading to combat the terrible winds that blow from many directions.
JORDIN ROBINAT, BARCELONA, SPAIN
I am delighted to hear that the dinner for General Franks enabled you to raise quite a few dollars for The Churchill Centre’s educational programmes. Thank you again for associating the bubbly spirit of France with such an event. You might like to hear that Pol Roger Champagne shall be poured at Blenheim for the upcoming 300th Anniversary of the Battle. Last, but certainly not least, Maison Pol Roger has been awarded a Royal Warrant as Champagne supplier to HM Queen Elizabeth II as per attached announcement. Hope this message finds you in effervescent state.
CHRISTIAN POL-ROGER, EPERNAY, FRANCE
I would like to express my profound gratitude for everything the Centre did to help our exhibit, “Churchill and the Great Republic”—not just the book and the symposia, but over the years, in promoting the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about a remarkable man and the crucial times through which he lived. You certainly made my job much easier.
—DAUN VAN EE, HISTORICAL SPECIALIST,
MANUSCRIPT DIV., LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, WASHINGTON
(To Daun Van Ee) What a pleasure it was to visit the exhibit and to hear your insightful commentary. I am deeply moved by Churchill’s lasting legacy. I headed the Churchill Society’s North Texas Chapter and hosted the 1987 international conference in Dallas. I require my senior staff to read Churchill on Leadership by Steven F. Hayward. The tour was long awaited and much appreciated.
—DAVID SAMPSON ASST. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, WASHINGTON
I had to write to say that the three essays in Finest Hour 122, by Arnn, Langworth and Freeman, are the most thoughtful and insightful pieces on current events in any context that I have read in a long time. They should be reprinted in magazines of general circulation so that more would have the benefit of these thoughts at this time of national debate. Thank you for pulling these essays together and for giving Centre members the opportunity to weigh these thoughts against their own views.
—DAN MYERS, DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS
Whilst I mainly agree with David Freeman’s “Churchill the Peacemaker,” he says “it was not until the Boers insisted upon full autonomy after the Second World War that the wretched policy of Apartheid was implemented.” South Africa achieved complete independence from the UK in December 1931 with the passage of the Statute of Westminster. It was the coming to power in South Africa of the Nationalist Party in 1948 that brought about Apartheid. South Africa had been independent since 1931.
—DAVID BULL, CANBERRA, A.C.T.
Professor Freeman Replies:
The Statute of Westminster meant, for example, that the Dominions had self-determination in the matter of joining forces with Britain in World War II, having had no such choice in WWI. Full independence, however, can also be judged on the basis of whom a country recognizes as its head of state. This leads into an ambiguous area of “degrees” of separation. Formally, South Africa did not declare itself a republic until 1960, nearly thirty years after the Statute of Westminster. I concur that it was the coming to power of the National Party in 1948 which led to Apartheid. However, while the South African government may have been free to do what it liked after 1931, its leadership remained very much in tune with Britain during the 1939-45 war. The rejection of Smuts, followed immediately by the adoption of Apartheid, can indeed be seen as an act of independence from Britain. Surely an Australian can appreciate that at least some of his countrymen feel that Australia will never be truly independent until it is a republic?
The romantic story (Around & About, Finest Hour 121) on Churchill declaring Suite 212 of Claridge’s Hotel to be Yugoslav territory is largely true. More doubtful is Claridge’s own story that a spade of Yugoslav earth was placed under the bed of pregnant Princess Alexandra of Greece, assuring that the heir to the Yugoslav throne would be born on (over?) home soil.
We must also question the form Churchill’s declaration took and whether it would have had any legal effect. Whatever the legal realities, the story certainly captured the public imagination. In July 1995, Crown Prince Alexander returned to Claridge’s to celebrate his 50th birthday and in 2001, again in Suite 212, Crown Prince Alexander had his citizenship formally restored by the Yugoslav government.
Incidentally, when Princess Juliana of the Netherlands gave birth to Princess Margriet in the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943, the Canadian Government declared the ward to be Dutch territory. The Dutch flag flew from the Parliament Buildings (the first and only time a foreign flag has ever flown there) and the clock tower’s carillon played the Dutch anthem. Every year thousands of tulip bulbs are sent to Ottawa from Holland in thanks for the shelter afforded the Dutch royal family.
—RAFAL HEYDEL-MANKOO, LONDON
I have always understood it was King George VI, not Winston Churchill, who declared the site at Claridge’s Hotel to be part of Yugoslavia when Crown Prince Alexander was born there.
I do not think Prime Minister Churchill had the power to do this. There were family ties between the British and Yugoslav royal families; the King, then Duke of York, had been best man to Prince Paul, King Peter’s first cousin, at his wedding in Belgrade in 1923. He was also godfather to King Peter and his best man too.
—SHEILA MILLINGTON, WEYBRIDGE, SURREY
Either the King suggested it to Churchill who, as head of government, agreed; or WSC put it to the King for formal approval. Whatever the origin, both would have had a finger in the pie.
The picture of Cockran in “Action This Day” (FH 121) should be credited to New York Public Library Cockran Collection. It might be of interest that Churchill wrote to Cockran from Cuba on 2 November 1895, in a letter which has never been published:
“We had a very comfortable journey which was entirely due to your kindness in getting us a state room. The food all along was execrable but the passage was good and the weather perfect.
“Early this morning a violent rain storm woke me up and I went on deck as soon as it cleared up. There, on our port under towering and stormy clouds lay the shores of Cuba. We got into the harbour without incident and live in a convenient hotel—we remain,” etc.
—CURT ZOLLER, AMORA, CALIF.
I have just received Finest Hour 121 with your wonderful review of our book, Sir Winston Churchill’s Life Through His Paintings. Many thanks. I am so glad that you liked it. What a remarkable man he was. I am happy that I was able to do this for his memory. We are going to present Churchill College with a CD of all the paintings, which I think is very important as they will then have them on record forever.
—MINNIE S. CHURCHILL, LYME REGIS, DORSET
Being a ship buff as well as a Churchillian I congratulate you on Finest Hour 121. The front cover was very relevant with the new Cunarder Queen Mary 2 on her maiden voyage, and visiting Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the time of publication.
The photo of RMS Aquitania on page 24 was taken more toward the middle of her career, probably in the 1930s. It contains one and perhaps two links with Churchill in the shape of the two U.S. warships in the background.
Just behind the liner is a Northampton class cruiser, quite possibly the Augusta, which carried Roosevelt to the Placentia Bay meeting with Churchill in 1941, and to their Malta meeting just before Yalta. She spent most of her career in the Atlantic Fleet after being, in the 1930s, the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Augusta was one of only four American cruisers not sent to the Pacific theater in 1942.
The smaller vessel is one of the Flush Deck class of destroyers, of which 272 were built for the U.S. Navy; fifty were transferred to the Royal Navy in the “destroyers for bases” deal.
—JOHN CROOKSHANK, ICS (UK)
You have some memory! Whenever did I pass that comment about George Lewis (“the type of person who built this country,” FH 121:13)? It has to have been eight or nine years ago. Well, not only did you say very nice things about George (and all just the bare facts), but you were also very complimentary to me. So thank you.
—CYRIL MAZANSKY MD, BOSTON
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