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Honours of Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill received numerous honours and awards throughout his career as a statesman and author. Perhaps the highest of these was the state funeral held at St Paul's Cathedral after his body had lain in state for three days in Westminster Hall,[1] a signal honour only rarely granted to anybody but a monarch or consort. The funeral also saw one of the largest assemblages of statesmen in the world.[2]

Throughout his life, Churchill also accumulated other honours and awards. He was awarded 37 other orders and medals between 1885 and 1964. Of the orders, decorations and medals Churchill received, 20 were awarded by the United Kingdom, three by France, two each by Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain, and one each by Egypt, Libya, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States. Ten were awarded for active service as an Army officer in Cuba, India, Egypt, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium. The greater number of awards were given in recognition of his service as a minister of the British government.[3]

Coat of Arms

File:Coat of Arms of Winston Churchill.svg
Coat of arms of Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill

Churchill was not a peer, never held a title of nobility, and remained a commoner all his life. As the grandson of 7th Duke of Marlborough, he bore the quartered coat of arms of the Spencer and Churchill families. Paul Courtenay observes that "It would be normal in these circumstances for the paternal arms (Spencer) to take precedence over the maternal (Churchill), but because the Marlborough dukedom was senior to the Sunderland earldom, the procedure was reversed in this case."[4]

The resulting heraldic achievement is: quarterly 1st and 4th, Sable a lion rampant Argent on a canton of the second a cross Gules (Churchill); 2nd and 3rd, quarterly Argent and Gules, in the second and third quarters a fret Or, over all on a bend Sable three escallops of the first (Spencer); in chief, on an escutcheon Argent a cross Gules surmounted by an inescutcheon Azure charged with three fleurs-de-lys Or.[4]

Since he was a Knight of the Garter, his arms were encircled by the belt and motto of the garter. The helms are open, which is the mark of a knight. The motto, that of the Dukes of Marlborough, was Fiel pero desdichado (Spanish for "Faithful but unfortunate").[5]

Honorary citizen

In 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, acting under authorisation granted by an Act of Congress, proclaimed Churchill the first honorary citizen of the United States. Churchill was physically incapable of attending the White House ceremony, so his son and grandson accepted the award for him.[6]

Proposed dukedom

In 1955, after retiring as Prime Minister, Churchill was offered elevation to the peerage in the rank of duke. By custom, retiring Prime Ministers from the Commons were usually offered earldoms, so the dukedom was a sign of special honour. One title that was considered was Duke of London; that capital has never been used in a peerage title. Churchill had represented three different counties in Parliament and his home, Chartwell, was in a fourth, so the city he had spent the most time in during his 50 years in politics was an appropriate choice.[7]

Although Churchill initially considered the offered dukedom, he eventually declined it; the lifestyle of a duke would have been very expensive, and accepting the title would have caused problems for a possible career in the British House of Commons for his son Randolph.[7] (At the time there was no procedure for disclaiming a title; the procedure was first established by the Peerage Act 1963. Upon inheriting it, Randolph would immediately have lost his place in the House of Commons[8] were he sitting at the time - although he never sat in Parliament after losing his first and only seat as an MP in 1945. Since then, only British royalty have been made dukes.[9] Randolph was to die only three years after his father, so the dukedom would have had little time to affect his career – which had ended in 1945 in any case. Randolph's oldest son Winston did serve as an MP from 1970 until 1997, by which time provision existed for disclaiming a hereditary peerage.

Other honours

File:Brooke - Churchill - Montgomery.jpg
Churchill in his Trinity House uniform with Field Marshal Alan Brooke (left) and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 1944

In 1911, Churchill was appointed an Elder Brother of Trinity House as result of his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty.[citation needed]

On 4 April 1939, Churchill was made an Honorary Air Commodore of No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron ("Churchill's Own") in the Auxiliary Air Force.[10] In March 1943, the Air Council awarded Churchill honorary wings.[9] He retained the appointment until 11 March 1957 when 615 Squadron was disbanded. He did however continue to hold the rank of Honorary Air Commodore.[11]

He was the Colonel in Chief of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (his old regiment) and after its amalgamation, the first Colonel in Chief of the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars which he held until his death in 1965 and was known[by whom?] as the "Greatest Hussar of all time". He was also Colonel in Chief of the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars.[citation needed]

From 1941 to his death, he was the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a ceremonial office. In 1941 Canadian Governor General Alexander Cambridge, Earl of Athlone, swore him into the King's Privy Council for Canada. Although this allowed him to use the honorific title The Honourable and the post-nominal letters PC, both of these were trumped by his membership in the Imperial Privy Council which allowed him the use of The Right Honourable.[9] He was also appointed Grand Seigneur of the Hudson's Bay Company in December 1955.[citation needed]

In 1945, he was mentioned by Halvdan Koht among seven candidates that were qualified for the Nobel Prize in Peace. However, he did not explicitly nominate any of them. Actually he nominated Cordell Hull.[12]

Churchill held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Kent in 1949.[13]

In 1953, he was awarded two major honours: he was invested as a Knight of the Garter (becoming Sir Winston Churchill, KG) and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".[14]

He was Chancellor of the University of Bristol as well as in 1959, Father of the House, the MP with the longest continuous service.[15]

In 1956, Churchill received the Karlspreis (known in English as the Charlemagne Award), an award by the German city of Aachen to those who most contribute to the European idea, and European peace.[16]

In 1961 the Chartered Institute of Building [17] named Churchill as an Honorary Fellow for his services and passion for the construction industry.

In 1964, Civitan International presented Churchill its first World Citizenship Award for service to the world community.[18]

Churchill was also appointed a Kentucky Colonel.[19][20]

When Churchill was 88 he was asked by the Duke of Edinburgh how he would like to be remembered. He replied with a scholarship like the Rhodes scholarship but for the wider masses. After his death, the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established in the United Kingdom and Australia. A Churchill Trust Memorial Day was held in Australia, raising A$4.3 million. Since that time the Churchill Trust in Australia has supported over 3,000 scholarship recipients in a diverse variety of fields, where merit, either on the basis of past experience, or potential, and the propensity to contribute to the community have been the only criteria.[citation needed]


File:Pol Roger 1973 UK and non-UK label.jpg
On the right, the black border used by Pol Roger on bottles shipped to the UK from 1965 to 1990.

The Winston Churchill Range in the Canadian Rockies was named in his honour.

One of four specially made sets of false teeth, designed to retain Churchill's distinctive style of speech, which Churchill wore throughout his life, is now kept in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.[21]

Two Royal Navy warships have been named HMS Churchill: the destroyer USS Herndon (DD-198) (I45) (1940–1944) and the submarine HMS Churchill (S46) (1970–1991).

On 10 March 2001, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG-81) was commissioned into the United States Navy. The launch and christening of the ship two years earlier was co-sponsored by Churchill's daughter, Lady Soames.[22]

In addition a Danish car ferry was named 'Winston Churchill' and The Corporation of Trinity House named one of their lighthouse tenders similarly. A sail Training ship was named 'Sir Winston Churchill'

In September 1947, the Southern Railway named a Battle of Britain class steam locomotive No. 21C151 after him. Churchill was offered the opportunity to perform the naming ceremony, but he declined. The locomotive was later used to pull his funeral train, and is now preserved in the National Railway Museum, York.

He appeared on the 1965 crown, the first commoner to be placed on a British coin.[23] He made another appearance on a crown issued in 2010 to honour the 70th anniversary of his Premiership.[24]

Pol Roger's prestige cuvée Champagne, Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, is named after him. The first vintage, 1975, was launched in 1984 at Blenheim Palace. The name was accepted by his heirs as Churchill was a faithful customer of Pol Roger. Following Churchill's death in 1965, Pol Roger added a black border to the label on bottles shipped to the UK as a sign of mourning. This was not lifted until 1990.[25]

The Churchill tank, or Infantry Tank Mk IV; was a British Second World War tank named after Churchill, who was Prime Minister at the time of its design.[26]

The Julieta (7" × 47), a size of cigar, is also commonly known as a Churchill.[citation needed]


Churchill has been included in numerous polls, mostly connected with greatness. Time named him its Man of the Year for 1940,[27] and "Man of the Half-Century" in 1949.[28] A BBC survey, of January 2000, saw Churchill voted the greatest British prime minister of the 20th century. In 2002, BBC TV viewers and web site users voted him the greatest Briton of all time in a ten-part series called Great Britons, a poll attracting almost two million votes.[29]

Buildings, highways and statues

Many statues have been created in likeness and in honour of Churchill. Numerous buildings and squares have also been named in his honour. The most prominent example of a statue of Churchill is the official statue commissioned by the government and created by Ivor Roberts-Jones which now stands in Parliament Square. It was unveiled by Churchill's widow, Lady Churchill, on 1 November 1973, and was Grade II listed in 2008.[30][31] Another Roberts-Jones statue of Churchill displaying the V sign[32] is prominently placed in New Orleans (1977). In addition several other statues have also been made, including a bronze head of Churchill by Jacob Epstein (1946), several statues by David McFall at Woodford (1959), William McVey outside the British embassy in Washington D.C. (1966), Franta Belsky at Fulton, Missouri (1969), at least three from Oscar Nemon: one on the front lawn of the Halifax Public Library branch on Spring Garden Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1980); one in the House of Commons (1969); a bust of his head along with that of Franklin Roosevelt commemorating the Quebec Conference, 1943 next to Port St. Louis in Quebec City (1998); and one in Nathan Phillips Square outside of Toronto City Hall, Ontario (1977), and Jean Cardot beside the Petit Palais in Paris (1998).[33] A statue of Churchill and Roosevelt, sculpted by Lawrence Holofcener is located in New Bond Street, London.

After Churchill was declared the greatest Briton of all time in the BBC poll and television series Great Britons (see above), a statue was erected in his honour and now stands at the BBC television studios. Churchill is also memorialised by many statues and a public square in New York, in recognition of his life, and also because his mother was from New York. His maternal family is also memorialised in streets, parks, and neighbourhoods throughout the city.

The national and Commonwealth memorial to Churchill is Churchill College, Cambridge, which was founded in 1958 and opened in 1960. It is also home to the Churchill Archives Centre, which holds the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and over 570 collections of personal papers and archives documenting the history of the Churchill era and after.[34]

Many schools have been named after him:

Ten schools in Canada are named in his honour: one each in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Kingston, St. Catharines, Lethbridge, Calgary, Toronto (Scarborough) and Ottawa. Churchill Auditorium at the Technion is named after him.

At least four American high schools carry his name; these are located in Potomac, Maryland; Livonia, Michigan; Eugene, Oregon and San Antonio, Texas.

In London, Churchill Place is one of the main squares in Canary Wharf.

The city of Edmonton, Canada has a stop on the Edmonton LRT system and a public square named in his honour. Churchill Square, is the main square in that city and was renovated in 2004 for the city's 100th anniversary of incorporation. There are several other squares named after him, including one in Brighton and one in Newfoundland. The south end of Churchill Avenue in Ottawa was the site of the Churchill Arms Motor Hotel, which many residents of Ottawa remember for its three storey exterior painting of the silhouette of Winston Churchill.[35] Churchill Avenue itself renamed from Main Street after the Second World War. In St. Albert, Alberta Sir Winston Churchill Ave runs east to west through the city. Winston Churchill Boulevard in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada is also named in his honour.

A large dock in the Port of Antwerp was named after him by Queen Elizabeth II at a ceremony in 1966.

Náměstí W. Churchilla (Winston Churchill Square) is located behind The Main Train Station in Prague, Czech Republic.

In Gibraltar the main road connecting the border with Spain and the airport to the city centre is called Winston Churchill Avenue.

In Norway streets in the cities of Trondheim and Tromsø are named in Winston Churchill's honour. Namely "Churchills vei"[36] in Jakobsli, Trondheim and "Winston Churchills vei" in Tromsø.

Many smaller, less significant streets and public buildings, particularly in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have been named in honour of Churchill.

List of honours



(Although some references report Churchill was awarded the French Legion of Honour, it is not listed among his honours at the Churchill Centre. However, it is significant that Churchill received the Medaille Militaire, which is only awarded (for high leadership) to holders of the Legion's Grand Cross).


Political, honorary, literary, military, and science

Lineage societies

Freedom of the City

British Empire


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  3. ^ The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Sir Winston Churchill – The Churchill Centre
  4. ^ a b Paul Courtenay, The Armorial Bearings of Sir Winston Churchill The Armorial Bearings of Sir Winston Churchill (accessed 20 July 2013).
  5. ^ Robson, Thomas, The British Herald, or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility & Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume I, Turner & Marwood, Sunderland, 1830, p. 401 (CHU-CLA).
  6. ^ Plumpton, John (Summer 1988). "A Son of America Though a Subject of Britain". Finest Hour (60). 
  7. ^ a b Ramsden, John (2002). Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend Since 1945. Columbia University Press. pp. 113, 597. ISBN 9780231131063. 
  8. ^ Statesmanship – The Churchill Centre
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Sir Winston Churchill by Douglas Russell
  10. ^ "Questions Answered: Winston Churchill in uniform and Ralph or Rafe". The Times. 13 September 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2010. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41083. p. 3227. 28 May 1957. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
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  15. ^ "Winston Churchill hero file". AU: More or Less. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
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  17. ^ "Chartered Institute of Building". Wikipedia. Wiki Media. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  18. ^ Armbrester, Margaret E. (1992). The Civitan Story. Birmingham, AL: Ebsco Media. pp. 96–97. 
  19. ^ "Colonels web site". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Kentucky: Secretary of State – Kentucky Colonels". 2006-10-26. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
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  22. ^ "Home – USS W.S. Churchill". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  23. ^ "1965 Churchill Crown". Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  24. ^ "Winston Churchill £5 Crown from the British Royal Mint". Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  25. ^ Pol Roger UK: Sir Winston Churchill, accessed 2010-07-12
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  28. ^ "Winston Churchill, Man of the Year". Time. 1950-01-02. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
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  36. ^ Norway Rd (1970-01-01). "Churchill NOrway – Google Maps". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  37. ^ "Luxembourg's WW2 Medals". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  38. ^ Cuban Campaign Medal, 1895–98
  39. ^ Khedive's Sudan Medal 1896 -1908
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