Right up until his death on 24 January 1965 — the same day his father died 70 years before — Winston Churchill led a very busy life. He was a writer, an army officer, a British statesman, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice. Have you ever wondered what his last words were?
Before Winston Churchill passed away at the ripe old age of 90, he said “I’m bored with it all.” The planning of his funeral, which was a four-day affair, began 12 years before he passed away and was titled Operation Hope Not.
To learn all about Winston Churchill’s death, his last words, as well as what his funeral was like, keep reading. This article will fill you in on everything you need to know about Winston Churchill’s death and what happened after his passing.
Winston Churchill’s Last Words
In his later life, Winston began suffering from strokes and his mental and physical health began deteriorating after his very first stroke in 1949. Just six years later, Winston retired from his second run as Britain’s Prime Minister in April of 1955 after his health issues became more pronounced.
Said health issues were so prevalent in his life that he declined Elizabeth II’s offer to become the Duke of London — an offer that had never been made to a non-royal before. Even though his health was on the decline, Winston remained in the public eye.
At the age of 87, while in Monte Carlo, Winston suffered a fall and broke his hip. After the accident, he was flown back home to London and was hospitalized for three weeks.
On 12 January 1965, Winston had his eighth stroke which turned out to be his last. Two weeks later, while recuperating at his Hyde Park Gate home, he passed away. Though he spent most of those two weeks in a comatose state, he managed to speak his last words to his son-in-law: “I’m bored with it all.”
Winston Churchill’s Funeral
The death of Winston Churchill triggered the start of a plan that had been put into place 12 years earlier after he suffered from one of his more serious strokes at a Downing Street dinner party. The code name for this plan, which was put into place at Queen Elizabeth II’s insistence, was Operation Hope Not.
Two days after his death, the plan was put into action. Winston’s body was transported to Westminster Hall to begin the lying in the state. More than 321,360 people braced 3 hour waits in a mile-long queue to pay their respects to the icon.
On the Saturday following his death, the chiming of Big Ben began at 9:45 am. To mark each year of his life, 90 cannon salutes were fired. Winston’s coffin, which had a Union Flag draped on it, was placed on a gun carriage and carried by eight 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.
The funeral procession was 2,500 people strong and consisted of civilians and soldiers alike. His coffin was carried all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral where 3,500 people were waiting to say their final goodbye to Winston.
Some of the guests in attendance included Queen Elizabeth II, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the French President Charles de Gaulle, and officials from 112 countries, 15 presidents, a grand duke, an emperor, two queens, and five kings. Once the service was over, Winston’s coffin was once again carried but this time to the Tower of London before it was placed aboard the MV Havengore.
In an unrehearsed act, 36 dockers saluted the army legend by lowering their crane jibs. The coffin was then placed on the Winston Churchill before he was laid to rest next to his brother’s grave in St Martin’s Churchyard.
It’s safe to say that Queen Elizabeth II’s goal of his funeral being “on a scale befitting his position in history” was most definitely accomplished.
Winston Churchill’s Legacy
Winston Churchill has gone down in history as one of the most accomplished men of all time, and as Britain’s favorite prime minister. He fought for freedom and was a fierce defender of democracy.
He is largely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most important leaders. Winston’s legacy of being a fearless and strategic leader lives on, and his name is one that every household knows.