TODAY (January 30) marks the 50th anniversary of the state funeral for the UK’s Second World War leader, Sir Winston Churchill.
Fifty years ago today, a full state funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral honoured the Queen’s first prime minister before his coffin was carried down the Thames on board the Havengore, with London dock cranes bowing as the boat passed by.
In the UK, state funerals are generally reserved for the death of a monarch, but very occasionally exceptions are made, and the nation chose to make a special case for the great wartime leader.
An estimated audience of 350 million people across the world tuned in to watch the funeral on television.
A recreation of the river journey will be held in London this morning as part of a series of events being held to mark the day, with nine of the WWII PM’s relatives retracing his final journey along the Thames onboard the Havengore.
More small boats will accompany the ship on its journey to the Palace of Westminster, where a wreath will be laid.
Tower Bridge will also be raised at 12.45pm to honour the date.
Speaking to Sky News about her memories of the day, Churchill’s granddaughter Emma Soames said that it was only at his funeral that she realised the importance of the man she had simply thought of as grandpa.
Churchill’s House of Commons career began in 1900 and lasted 64 years, the longest in the 20th century, including two terms as prime minister.
Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965, at the age of 90, having suffered a stroke nine days beforehand. Coincidentally his death came 70 years to the day after that of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill.