|The Right Honourable
The Lady Soames
LG DBE FRSL
15 September 1922
Chartwell, Westerham, Kent, United Kingdom
|Died||31 May 2014
London, England, United Kingdom
|Spouse(s)||Christopher Soames, Baron Soames (1947–1987, his death)|
|Parent(s)||Winston Churchill (father)
Clementine Churchill (mother)
Mary Soames, Baroness Soames, LG, DBE, FRSL (née Spencer-Churchill; 15 September 1922 – 31 May 2014) was the youngest of the five children of Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine. She was the wife of Christopher Soames.
Mary Spencer-Churchill was raised at Chartwell and educated at the Manor House at Limpsfield. She worked for the Red Cross and the Women's Voluntary Service from 1939 to 1941, and joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941 with whom she served in London, Belgium and Germany in mixed anti-aircraft batteries, rising to the rank of Junior Commander (equivalent to Captain). She also accompanied her father as aide-de-camp on several of his overseas journeys, including his post-VE trip to Potsdam, where he met with Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin.
She served many public organisations, such as the International Churchill Society, as a Patron; Church Army and Churchill Houses; and chaired the Royal National Theatre Board of Trustees between 1989 and 1995. She was Patron of the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged.
A successful author, Lady Soames wrote an acclaimed biography of her mother, Clementine Churchill, in 1979. She offered insights into the Churchill family to various biographers, prominently including Sir Martin Gilbert, who became the authorised biographer of Sir Winston Churchill after the death of Churchill's son, Randolph, in 1968. Additionally, she published a book of letters between Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, editing the letters as well as providing bridging material that placed the letters in personal, family, and historical context.
One of her more notable public appearances came on 29 April 2002 when she dined with the Queen at Buckingham Palace as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, alongside Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the four surviving former prime ministers at the time, as well as several relatives of other deceased prime ministers.
Lady Soames was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her public service, particularly in Rhodesia. She was appointed a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter on 23 April 2005, and was invested on 13 June at Windsor Castle.
On 31 May 2014, Lady Soames died at her home in London at the age of 91 following a short illness. Her ashes are buried next to those of her husband within the Churchill plot at St Martin's Church, Bladon, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Six months after her death, on 17 December 2014, Sotheby's London auctioned 255 items out of her collection on behalf of her heirs, including paintings by and memorabilia attached to her father, Winston S. Churchill. The sale far exceeded pre-auction estimates.
- The Rt. Hon. Sir Nicholas Soames (12 February 1948). He married Catherine N. Weatherall on 4 June 1981 and they were divorced in 1988. They have one son. He remarried Serena Mary Smith on 21 December 1993. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
- The Hon. Emma Mary Soames (6 September 1949). She married James MacManus on 4 July 1981 and they were divorced in 1989.
- The Hon. Jeremy Bernard Soames (25 May 1952). He married Susanna Keith in 1978. They have three children.
- The Hon. Charlotte Clementine Soames (17 July 1954). She married Richard Hambro in 1973 and they were divorced in 1982. They have one daughter. She remarried William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel on 15 April 1989. They have one daughter.
- The Hon. Rupert Christopher Soames (18 May 1959). He married Camilla Rose Dunne in 1988. They have three children.
Titles from birth
A list of the titles Lady Soames held in chronological order from birth:
- 15 September 1922 – 1945: Miss Mary Spencer-Churchill
- 1945 – 11 February 1947: Miss Mary Spencer-Churchill, MBE
- 11 February 1947 – May 1965: Mrs. Christopher Soames, MBE
- May 1965 – 1972: The Hon. Mrs. Soames, MBE
- 1972 – 19 April 1978: The Hon. Lady Soames, MBE
- 19 April 1978 – 14 June 1980: The Rt Hon. The Lady Soames, MBE
- 14 June 1980 – 23 April 2005: The Rt Hon. The Lady Soames, DBE
- 23 April 2005 – 31 May 2014: The Rt Hon. The Lady Soames, LG, DBE
Books written by Mary Soames (titles may vary between UK and US editions):
- Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage (1979)
- Family Album: A Personal Selection from Four Generations of Churchills (1982)
- The Profligate Duke: George Spencer Churchill, Fifth Duke of Marlborough, and His Duchess (1987)
- Winston Churchill: His Life as a Painter (1990)
- Speaking For Themselves: The Private Letters of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill (1999)
- Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography (2005)
- A Daughter's Tale: The Memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill's Youngest Child (2012)
- "Lady Mary Soames, Winston Churchill's daughter, dies". BBC. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Wrigley, Chris. (2002). Winston Churchill: A biographical companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-0-87436-990-8.
- David Reynolds Obituary: Lady Soames, The Guardian, 1 June 2014
- "Mary Soames: biography". Random House Group. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
- "Queen dines with her prime ministers". BBC News. 29 April 2002.
- "(Supplement) no. 48212". The London Gazette. 13 June 1980. p. 8. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- "no. 57622". The London Gazette. 25 April 2005. p. 5363. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- "The Queen [...] today held a Chapter of the Most Noble Order of the Garter [...] Her Majesty invested the Baroness Soames with the Insignia of a Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter." The Court Circular 13 June 2005.
- Mary Soames, daughter of Winston Churchill, dies at 91 - The Washington Post
- "Lady Soames, Winston Churchill's last surviving child, dies aged 91". The Daily Telegraph. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- "Auction Results: Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill". Sotheby's. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- The Heraldry Gazette. New Series 105 (September 2007), pp.1-2. ISSN 0437-2980
- This book engages itself with the gardens in Blenheim and Whiteknights.
- Mary Soames at the Internet Movie Database
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- A film clip ALLIES TAKE KISKA ETC. (1943) is available at the Internet Archive