Churchill - Britain marks 50th anniversary of death

Britain marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill at the weekend, with further memorials planned for the end of this week.

Churchill by Paul Don Smith

Churchill by Paul Don Smith Image by MsSaraKelly / CC BY 2.0

The iconic Prime Minister, who passed away aged 90 on 24 January 1965, led Britain through the war years against Germany from 1940 to 1945, and again in peacetime from 1951 to 1955.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, leading the tributes, described Churchill as Britain’s “greatest ever prime minister”.

“Churchill was our greatest ever prime minister and we owe him everything. In May 1940 that crucial decision to fight on against Hitler saved our country and arguably saved the world, ” he said.

This Friday, the 50th anniversary of his state funeral, a remembrance service will be held at London’s Houses of Parliament. More than 300,000 people filed past where he lay in state at Westminster in the days following his death, the London Independent reports.

Churchill’s coffin, draped with a Union Jack, was borne through London’s streets on a gun carriage and ferried up the Thames in the barge Havengore. This Friday, at 12.40pm, the same vessel will sail up the Thames once again, carrying members of Churchill's family from St Katherine’s Pier to Westminster. Scottish pipers will play and a four-gun salute from HMS Belfast will mark the Havengore's passage, accompanied by a flotilla of boats while Tower Bridge will be raised.

At Westminster Abbey's marble memorial stone, originally unveiled by the Queen in 1965 shortly after Churchill's death, a wreath will be laid. Further activity will see a commemoration service at the Houses of Parliament broadcast to crowds on the riverbank.

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