On Sunday January 24, 1965, Winston Churchill died at the age of 90 at his London home at 28 Hyde Park Gate. He had been ill since suffering a stroke earlier in the month. At 5:30 that morning Churchill’s nurse told his daughter Mary, who had spent the night at Hyde Park Gate, that he was fading and it would not be long. Churchill’s wife Clementine, however, was allowed to sleep a little longer. About an hour later Mary telephoned other members of the family as well as Anthony Montague Brown, Churchill’s private secretary in the last decade of his life. At seven o’clock that morning Churchill’s son Randolph and grandson Winston arrived at the house followed at 7:18 by Lord Moran, his physician. His daughter Sarah and granddaughter Celia arrived shortly after, while a crowd silently gathered outside. The family members along with Moran and Montague Brown gathered in Churchill’s room, with Clementine sitting on his right side. Shortly after eight o’clock that morning Churchill died.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Harold Wilson were informed before the announcement was provided to the Press Association at 8:36 a.m. The bulletin that was signed by Moran read simply, “Shortly after 8 A.M. this morning, Sunday, 24th January, Sir Winston Churchill died at his London home.” The BBC interrupted its scheduled morning programming to make the somber announcement which was followed by the playing of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. After the announcement, as the London Times noted, “Britain became a nation in mourning.” Flags were lowered to half staff; special prayers were said in church services, and the state bell “Great Tom” was tolled at St. Paul’s. That morning the plans for Churchill to lie in state in Westminster Hall and for him to receive a state funeral were announced from 10 Downing Street. Also, during the day messages of sympathy were offered by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family, while tributes were made by Prime Minister Wilson, and former British prime ministers Attlee, Eden, Macmillan, and Douglas-Home. Many world leaders issued statements as did many of Churchill’s wartime colleagues. That evening a crowd of about 500 Londoners gathered at Hyde Park Gate while elsewhere the lights at Piccadilly Circus were out as a tribute and a special dedication service was held at Harrow where Churchill had been a schoolboy.

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