Finest Hour 179, Winter 2018
Members of the International Churchill Society gathered aboard the RMS Queen Mary on December 8th to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the ship’s arrival in Long Beach, California, with the opening of a new exhibit. “Their Finest Hours: Winston Churchill and the Queen Mary” was officially dedicated by Sir Winston’s great-granddaughter Jennie Churchill and International Churchill Society Chairman Laurence Geller.
The multi-media exhibition features sets designed for the critically-acclaimed film Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. The Imperial War Museum’s Phil Reed worked closely with the filmmakers to ensure authenticity. Three of these sets now serve as the gateway to the Churchill exhibit on the ship: the Cabinet Room, Map Room, and Churchill’s bedroom. The exhibit is wonderful for local schoolchildren, since visitors are encouraged to touch the displays. There is also a replica of Churchill’s shipboard conference room.
The British Vice-Consul in Los Angeles presented the ship with a framed replica of War Cabinet minutes made during one of Churchill’s wartime passages. On behalf of the International Churchill Society, Chairman Laurence Geller presented the ship with a framed copy of Churchill’s customs declaration form upon arrival in Southampton after his 1949 journey on the Queen Mary. Included on the declaration are 600 cigars, a generous supply of brandy, and— most intriguingly—several rubber ducks.
The International Churchill Society and the Queen Mary have signed a formal agreement of cooperation, which includes reciprocal marketing activities that will lead to closer partnership in the future and make the ship the center of ICS activities on the Pacific coast. Stephen Sowards, General Manager of the Queen Mary, said, “We are truly appreciative and look forward to a long-lasting relationship with our new friends both here in California and in the UK.” Anchors aweigh!