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On April 4, 1955, on the eve of his retirement as prime minister, Winston Churchill entertained Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh at a farewell dinner held at 10 Downing Street, an event that was seen to represent his “sense of history and drama.” As the 80-year old Churchill spent his last full day as prime minister, there was a great bustle of activity at Downing Street in preparation for the dinner, including the arrival of a “great profusion” of flowers from Chartwell. That evening Churchill, dressed in black breeches and the regalia of a Knight of the Garter, waved to the large crowd that had gathered in Downing Street and its approaches as he awaited the arrival of the royal car. The prime minister and his wife Clementine greeted the Queen on her arrival and then they moved to the state dining room. Among the other attendees were Anthony Eden and his wife Clarissa (who was also Churchill’s niece), Clement Attlee, Herbert Morrison, Field Marshal Alexander, Field Marshal Montgomery, the Duke of Norfolk, Harold Macmillan, Viscount Bracken, Lord Cherwell, Viscount Thurso, and three of the Churchill children: Randolph, Diana, and Mary. Served at the dinner was turtle soup, fresh salmon, saddle of lamb, fresh peaches and cream, coffee and liqueurs. Churchill was “visibly moved” as he made a brief toast to the health of Queen Elizabeth and praised the British monarchy. In reply the Queen made a toast to her prime minister’s health. The Queen remained 45 minutes longer than expected and departed at 12:15 with Churchill opening the door of the red Rolls Royce for her. The next day Churchill would go to Buckingham Palace to resign as prime minister.

 

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