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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Winston Churchill

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1. Winston Churchill comes from a noble family

Winston Churchill actually has quite a remarkable family tree. The Churchills derive from the Spencers, one of the most renowned British aristocratic families. To give you an example of just how powerful a heritage we are talking about, the Spencers can trace their roots back to the Medicis, the Hanovers, the Sforzas of the Habsburgs, and also the Boleyn, as in Mary Boleyn, Mistress’ of Henry VIII of England house. Diana, Princess of Wales is Churchill’s distant relative, as she too was born unto the Spencer family.

2. His mother was actually American

Yes, indeed. It might come across as a bit odd, but it was considered in good tone for English noblemen to marry American heiresses in the late 19th century. Therefore, Lord Randolph Churchill, the third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough and Winston’s father decided to tie the knot with Jennie Jerome, a daughter of a famous Brooklynite entrepreneur. They had two sons together, Winston in 1874 and Jack in 1880. After Lord Randolph’s death, his former spouse got into a curious habit of marrying men almost two decades younger than herself.

3. Winston Churchill nearly flunked his military education

Surprisingly, Churchill was not a particularly bright student. His fortes were History and English composition, but he did not excel at other subjects. Apparently, he also had a hard time learning foreign languages. He failed his entry examinations at the Sandhurst Royal Military College twice, but with a little extra tutoring, he qualified the third time. This, once again, is a legit confirmation that most great minds rarely get along with formal education. Remember Einstein?

4. He got out of a prison camp in South Africa

In 1899, just as he was entering the South African military front, his car was ambushed and he was taken hostage by the Boers, descendants of Dutch settlers fighting against the natives and the supporting British army. Churchill was put in a prison camp, from which he managed to escape by climbing a wall at night. By happy chance, he managed to find refuge at a British coal mine manager’s house. The new-found companion kept him hidden in a mineshaft for three days and subsequently send him back to the battlefront in a wool-filled rail truck.

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5. Winston Churchill didn’t fancy Ghandi’s politics

Churchill was strongly opposed to the idea of India gaining any autonomy. Well, these days such a view might seem unpopular to say the least, but in the 19th century the colonial traditions were still strongly etched into the British identity. So, he definitely wasn’t the only man of state thinking that way. However, Churchill was never one to refrain from speaking his mind. And, on one occasion he called Mahatma Gandhi “a seditious Middle Temple lawyer now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East”. Oh, and he also might have wished for him to die in a hunger strike. So fierce!

6. He coined the term „iron curtain”

Being unconvinced towards supporting communism did not stop Churchill from teaming up with the Soviet Union during World War II. However, somewhere along the way he started having doubts as to what the Soviets were really up to. This resulted in his famous speech of March 1946, where he voiced his concerns, talking about an “an iron curtain [that] has descended across the continent.” He also mentioned that behind the curtain the countries may fall prey “to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.” Turns out he was right.

7. Winston Churchill was a prolific and successful writer

Churchill has been writing nearly all his life. He wrote war reports in Sudan and South Africa. Afterwards, he also got down to writing an extensive biography of his father and many non-fictional works on World War II. He penned one novel, but advised his friends never to read it. Was it lack of self-assurance or mere courtesy? We’ll never know. However, we do know that Churchill was a gifted writer, as he won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature „for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.

8. He was the only Prime Minister listed on the music charts

No, he did not have a pop hit. Churchill might have been a writer and a painter, but he never really recorded any music. What topped the charts were in fact his speeches. He made his debut with ‘The Voice Of’, a collection of orations, published posthumously in 1965, and later repeated his success with a record commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain entitled ‘Reach For The Skies’, a work by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force. And probably people bought records with his speeches in stores, too. Now, that’s a commercial success.

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9. Winston Churchill is the only person to appear on British coins twice

We are not really sure whether this has anything to do with the fact that Churchill was Prime Minister not once, but twice, from 1940 to 1945, and from 1951 to 1955. Surely enough, though, we have two coin collections celebrating his statesmanship, one from 1965 minted immediately after his death, and one from 2015, celebrating the 50th anniversary. Both are solid silver. And if you are into numismatics, you can purchase them online on the Royal Mint Website. Or trade with other collectors on eBay.

10. He has served six British monarchs

Winston ended his Parliamentary career on 6 April 1955. But, during this time he managed to serve as many as six British kings and queens altogether. He was in office during the reign of Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, George VI and Elizabeth II, which is more time than most of his fellow statesmen spent pursuing public functions. Winston Churchill was such a political devotee that he dedicated a total of 55 years of his life to setting directions for his country and people.

Want to know more about this great British leader and politician? Check out http://www.winstonchurchill.org/, the Churchill Centre website.

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