Take the 2-minute tour ×
History Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for historians and history buffs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Churchill had refused the Order of the Garter in 1945, quipping that he couldn't accept the garter from the king after the people gave him the boot. But in 1953 he relented and accepted the honour? Is it known what exactly made him change his mind?

share|improve this question
1  
Sour grapes dissipating? –  DVK Mar 2 '13 at 20:52
1  
@DVK: Possibly, that's the sorta null hypothesis. But maybe there's something else. –  Felix Goldberg Mar 2 '13 at 21:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The order of the garter was "Restored to gift of the Sovereign by Attlee in 1946". So maybe he wouldn't accept it from the Labour prime minister but would accept it from George VI.

I personally think sour grapes is the explanation, it fits with his personality, which seems a bit tempestuous. And he did change party (or "Cross the Floor") twice, so perhaps he was open to changing his mind from time to time.

share|improve this answer
    
Interesting! Thanks for making this connection. –  Felix Goldberg Mar 3 '13 at 16:26
    
Churchill was too opinionated, and consistent in what he believed to be correct policy, to ever truly be a member of either the Conservatives or the Liberals. From time-to-time, however, the "Churchill Party-of-one" formed a coalition government with the party in power, to mutual advantage. –  Pieter Geerkens Oct 19 '13 at 4:52

What makes the most sense to me was that in 1945 he (actually his party) had just been voted out of office. At this point he still had hopes of getting back the majority (and perhaps the PM office), and in fact he did regain it in 1951.

So I think in 1945 he was mostly telling you what his problem was. He was still an active politician, and as such it would be next to impossible to accept such an honor without it being tainted by Great Britian's extant political climate. People could not help but speculate that there were crass political dimensions to the "honor".

In 1953 he was PM again. However, he was also 78, and suffered a fairly bad stroke, after which he never walked or spoke quite right again. He was clearly in his declining years, and in fact retired the PM position 2 years later. So at this point the logic that compelled him to decline the honor a decade prior no longer applied. Its also quite possible that, given his failing health, the soverign was a bit more insistent on giving it to him this time, for fear of any further wait causing it to have to be bestowed posthumously.

share|improve this answer
    
This is an interesting angle. If I understand correctly, you posit that the Order of the Garter is sort of a parting gift that senior politicians that retire from active politics sometimes get - like a peerage a hundred years ago, or like an appointment to the Eurocommission nowadays. This is a nice theory, but do you have sources for it? +1 anyway –  Felix Goldberg Mar 6 '13 at 11:15
    
@FelixGoldberg - That's sort of an inside-out way of looking at it. He didn't want it to look like a political gift, so he refused it while he still had a political career ahead of him. Actually though, the wiki page did say he was offered a peerage instead, but his son didn't want to inherit it (I think he had political ambitions too, and didn't want to be stuck in the House of Lords). –  T.E.D. Mar 6 '13 at 13:17
    
Ok, I see what you meant. –  Felix Goldberg Mar 6 '13 at 13:41

Are you mixing it up with Churchill's refusal of being made a Duke, the highest rank below the Royal Family? He was returned as PM but he went on too long in the position as he was somewhat brain damaged from strokes, diabetes and his drinking and smoking cigars. Yet he lasted until he was 90 and the first PM to be ever given a State funeral. He was a great war time leader who inspired people but not such a good peace time leader. The Order of the Garter is always prescribed by the Queen or monarch. And George the sixth was still on the throne until 1952 when he died suddenly.

share|improve this answer
    
this does not really answer the question; in fact, this looks much more like an semi-coherent rambling than an answer to a question. –  sds Oct 21 '13 at 3:52

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.