March 26, 2024

Finest Hour 198, Special Issue 2022

Page 04

David Freeman, August 2022

Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award for Volodymyr Zelenskyy

“To my mind, there has never been an easier case to make than that this year’s Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award should go to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.” Thus spoke Sir Winston’s granddaughter Emma Soames when the recipient of this year’s award was announced in London on 26 July. She continued, “As a wartime leader, he has shown many of the same characteristics of my grandfather: bravery, courage, grace under pressure, and a very close relationship with his people.”

The decision was indeed easy. Organizing the presentation of the International Churchill Society’s premier award proved rather more difficult. ICS Chairman Laurence Geller spent several months coordinating with the Ukrainian Embassy in London and Downing Street. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson learned of the proposal, he immediately agreed to present the award personally, albeit via a video link with Kyiv, where President Zelenskyy has remained since the Russian invasion of his country began in February of this year.

Chairman Geller also oversaw the raising of £50,000 to donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee for the support of Ukrainian refugees in conjunction with the presentation of the award. The twenty-minute ceremony included remarks by Mr. Geller, Prime Minister Johnson, and President Zelenskyy, which are reproduced here in full. Additionally, we offer the thoughts of historian Andrew Roberts, who places the event in perspective. Andrew Smith, Executive Director of ICS-UK, supervised the production of the award itself, as seen in our final story.

For additional insight, we invited royal biographer Hugo Vickers to compare the circumstances of Ukraine’s First Family in 2022 with those faced by the British Royal Family during the Second World War. “Courage” is the word most frequently associated with the Zelenskyys, the House of Windsor, and Winston Churchill. In a study on this topic we identify four elements that Churchill manifested through his courage.

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