Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jun. 24, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

On August 23, 1946, Churchill arrived in Switzerland for a three-week working vacation. He planned to do some work on his WWII memoirs and make a few speeches, but mostly he wanted to rest and paint by the shore of Lake Leman.

The Sunday Express gave its readers a description of what things were like for Churchill at Chateau Choisi, the villa where he stayed.

Martin Gilbert tells us The Daily Express story so amused Churchill that he cut it out and kept it for years. Here’s some of it:

Mr. Winston Churchill, Europe’s most popular personality, has today become known as “The prisoner of the chateau.”

From the moment he set foot on Swiss soil at the airport yesterday, for a three weeks’ holiday, accompanied by Mrs. Churchill and their daughter, Mary, he has held the concerted attention of the Swiss police.

At Chateau Choisi, on the shores of Lake Leman, scores of armed police patrol the grounds and police speedboats manoeuvre constantly within 50 yards of the shore.

The police have built a nest in a high tree in the chateau’s grounds, from where the look-out man can take stock of the surrounding territory and at the same time watch Mr. Churchill’s every movement. …

Rising early in the morning, he went down to the lake side, followed discreetly by two policemen, to look at the scenery. In the afternoon he was seen with brushes and easel wending his way to the private port to start the first of his pictures of Lake Leman. …

Mr Churchill has expressed a desire that no official reception be given while he is holidaying.
We can all understand why Churchill would want no official reception. He just wanted to enjoy a holiday with his family and his new "friends," the Swiss police.
Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill:Never Despair, 1945-1965.(p.261)