Honours of Winston Churchill

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Churchill's identification document as an Honorary Citizen of the United States

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, RA received numerous honours and awards throughout his career as a British Army officer, 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] an honour rarely granted to anyone other than a British 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 the Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, 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[edit]

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]

When he became a Knight of the Garter in 1953, his arms were encircled by the belt and motto of the garter, and at the same time the helms were made open, which is the mark of a knight. His motto was that of the Dukes of Marlborough, Fiel pero desdichado (Spanish for "Faithful but unfortunate").[5]

Honorary citizen[edit]

On 9 April 1963, United States President John F. Kennedy, acting under authorization 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] [7]

Proposed dukedom[edit]

In 1955, after retiring as Prime Minister, Churchill was offered elevation to the peerage in the rank of duke. By custom, Prime Ministers retiring 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, a city whose name had never been used in a peerage title. Churchill had represented divisions of three different counties in Parliament, and his home, Chartwell, was in a fourth, so the city in which he had spent most of his time during fifty years in politics was seen as a suitable choice.[8] Since 1900, only members of the British royal family have been made dukes, so the offer was exceptional.[9]

Churchill considered accepting the offer of a dukedom but eventually declined it; the lifestyle of a duke would have been expensive, and accepting any peerage might have cut short a renewed career in the Commons for his son Randolph and in due course might also prevent one for his grandson Winston.[8] (At the time there was no procedure for disclaiming a title; the procedure was first established by the Peerage Act 1963. Upon inheriting a peerage, either Randolph or Winston would immediately be unseated from the House of Commons.)[10] In the event, Randolph never sat in Parliament after losing his first and only seat there in 1945 and indeed was to die only three years after his father, so the dukedom would have had no effect on his career. Randolph's oldest son Winston did serve in the Commons from 1970 until 1997, but by that time provision existed for disclaiming a hereditary peerage.

Other honours[edit]

Painting of Churchill in his air commodore's uniform
Churchill in his Trinity House uniform with Field Marshal Alan Brooke (left) and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 1944

In 1913, Churchill was appointed an Elder Brother of Trinity House as result of his appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] He frequently wore his uniform as an Air Commodore during World War II.

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 Peace Prize. However, he did not explicitly nominate any of them. Actually he nominated Cordell Hull.[14]

Churchill held the office of Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Kent in 1949.[15]

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".[16]

He was Chancellor of the University of Bristol as well as in 1959, Father of the House, the MP with the longest continuous service.[17]

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.[18]

In 1961 the Chartered Institute of Building [19] 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.[20]

Churchill was also appointed a Kentucky Colonel.[21][22]

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]


USS Winston S. Churchill
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.[23]

Two Royal Navy warships have been named HMS Churchill: the destroyer USS Herndon (I45) (1940–1944) and the submarine HMS Churchill (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.[24]

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.[25] He made another appearance on a crown issued in 2010 to honour the 70th anniversary of his Premiership.[26]

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.[27]

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.[28]

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,[29] and "Man of the Half-Century" in 1949.[30] 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.[31]

Buildings, highways, statues & geographic features[edit]

A statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square

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.[32][33] Another Roberts-Jones statue of Churchill displaying the V sign[34] is prominently placed in New Orleans (1977). In addition several other statues have also been made, including a bronze bust of Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein (1947), 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 British 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 (1977), and Jean Cardot beside the Petit Palais in Paris (1998).[35] 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.[36]

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. Winston Churchill Avenue is a major road in Portsmouth. Basingstoke and Salford both have roads called Churchill Way.

A bust of Churchill close to the British Embassy in Prague

The city of Edmonton, Alberta, 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, England 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.[37] Churchill Avenue was 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.

Churchill National Park in Australia which was established on 12 February 1941 as the Dandenong National Park, was renamed in 1944 in his honour. The town of Churchill, Victoria, Churchill Island and Churchill Island Marine National Park in Victoria, Australia were also named after him.

In Canada, Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park, Churchill Park, St. John's and Churchill Lake in Saskatchewan were all named after him.

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.

Churchillparken in Copenhagen, Denmark; Churchill Park, Glendowie, New Zealand; Churchill Park (Lautoka), Fiji; and Energlyn and Churchill Park railway station in Wales are some other parks named in his honour.

In Norway streets in the cities of Trondheim and Tromsø are named in Winston Churchill's honour. Namely "Churchills vei"[38] 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.

Orders, decorations and medals[edit]

British orders and medals[edit]




Service medals[edit]


(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 Médaille militaire, which is only awarded (for high leadership) to holders of the Legion's Grand Cross). The Listing of Foreign recipients of the Legion of Honor reports Churchhill as "Sir Winston Churchill, Grand-croix de la Légion d'honneur (1958);" {The Grand-croix being awarded to Foreign Heads of state}.


Honorary Degrees[edit]

Military ranks and titles[edit]

Political and government offices[edit]

Other distinctions[edit]

Membership in lineage societies[edit]

Freedom of the City[edit]

British Empire
  • England 2 April 1941: Oldham [64]
  • Scotland 12 October 1942: Edinburgh [65]
  • England 30 June 1943: London [66]
  • England 4 October 1946: Blackpool [67]
  • England 1946: Poole [68]
  • Scotland 1946: Aberdeen
  • England 31 October 1946: Birmingham
  • England 1947: Manchester [69] [70]
  • Scotland 1947: Ayr [71]
  • England 3 October 1947: Brighton [72]


  • England 6 July 1948: Aldershot [74]
  • Wales 16 July 1948: Cardiff [75] [76]
  • Scotland 27 May 1948: Perth [77]
  • England 1949: Kensington[78] [79]
  • England 13 July 1950: Bath [80]
  • England 12 December 1950: Portsmouth [81]
  • England 1950: Worcester [82]
  • England 16 April 1951: Sheffield [83][84] [85]
  • England 1951: Deal [86]
  • Wales 1951: Aberystwyth [87]
  • Scotland 1953: Stirling
  • Jamaica 17 January 1953: Kingston [88][89]
  • England 15 December 1950: Portsmouth [90][91]
  • England 30 September 1955: Harrow [92]
  • Northern Ireland 16 December 1955: Londonderry [93]
  • Northern Ireland 16 December 1955: Belfast [94][95] [96] [97]
  • Isle of Man 1957: Douglas
  • England 28 October 1958: Leeds
  • England Date Unknown: Eastbourne

Churchill received a worldwide total of 42 Freedoms of cities and towns, in his lifetime a record for a lifelong British citizen.[98]


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