Finest Hour 190, Fourth Quarter 2020
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 former Prime Minister 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 ٢٠٢٠, while Lady Williams and Sir John—having participated in past ICS gatherings—will both be participating in this year’s virtual conference (see back cover).
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 (see FH 185). 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 conversation with Churchill granddaughter 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. Previously 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 (see FH 189), 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. Mr. Brown wrote the foreword to the preceding issue of Finest Hour, which is about Churchill and Scotland.