As Secretary of State for India, Lord Randolph Churchill became increasingly irritated as Queen Victoria lobbied to have her son, the Duke of Connaught, appointed to the Bombay Command. Winston later reported that Lord Randolph “resisted the appointment with an obstinate determination.” What the son could not reveal, for obvious reasons, was that his father had developed an active distrust of the Royal Family. In Randolph’s view, “in actual hostilities Royal Dukes are a source of great embarrassment, discontent and danger.” This dispute occasioned Lord Randolph’s first resignation from Lord Salisbury’s Cabinet, but it was quickly withdrawn. A more important issue was the question of Home Rule for Ireland. Churchill thought it impossible but agreed to meet the Irish half way. When they declined to reciprocate, he kept his own counsel and said little publicly on the issue.
“I cannot think why you did not come to see me … I was very disappointed, but I suppose you were too busy.”
In the November General Election, Lord Randolph was defeated by John Bright in Birmingham despite the active involvement of Lady Randolph and the Duchess of Marlborough. One voter told Lady Randolph, “I like your husband and I like what he says. But I can’t throw off John Bright like an old coat.” Churchill was elected in South Paddington the next day.
Get the Churchill Bulletin delivered to your inbox once a month.