On 30 January, 1965, the world said farewell to Sir Winston Churchill.
In Britain a million people lined the funeral route, from Westminster Hall to his grave in Bladon churchyard, close to Blenheim Palace where he was born.
Across the globe, a staggering 350 million more watched on television. It was the largest TV audience ever recorded.
It was something that no-one who saw it would forget, a symphony of ceremony on the grandest scale, full of pageantry, pomp and grandeur, a self-consciously historical event to honour a man who had so shaped history.
It was clear that his funeral would signify more than the official burial of a great Prime Minister.
It was not just the end of a life, it was the end of an era.
The country that Churchill was leaving behind would soon bear little resemblance to the one he had been born into. The empire was going or gone, and with it the confidence, power, wealth and cultural certainties that underpinned it. On that sharp, clear morning, Britain was saying goodbye to all that, as well as bidding farewell to a great leader.
His funeral was a watershed moment in British history, an unusually sharply defined point when the old nation, exemplified by the pomp and ceremony of a great empire gave way to the country we have today.
Would Churchill recognise the society we live in today? And what remains of the values and ideals he championed?
In 'Churchill's Funeral' Patrick Bishop reflects back on Churchill’s leadership during the Second World War to explore how a man who had as many enemies as supporters has managed to gain such a prominent place in our social history.
Patrick Bishop is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling ‘Fighter Boys’, ‘Bomber Boys’, ‘3 Para’ and ‘Target Tirpitz’. Previously a foreign correspondent for over twenty years, he has reported from conflicts all over the world, and was for many years Middle East correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He lives in West London.
Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.
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