SIGNED ORIGINAL TYPED PARLIAMENTARY DIRECTIVE

From the Estate of Sir John Colville

1953

Item Number: 210430

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Description

Original typed Directive on “Prime Minister” embossed letterhead initial-signed in ink: “WC.”

The Directive reads: “Statements affecting Cabinet proceedings and policy should not be made in relation to assertions in particular newspapers. If the great majority of the newspapers took up a matter of this character it would require special consideration. The proper course however is to await a Question in Parliament.”

Hole-punched at the upper left corner and straight-pinned, with a penciled date of “10, 7, 53.” An inked notation in John Colville’s hand below Churchill’s initial signature reads:
“No. 10 so instructed Mr. Fife Clark and Sir N. Brook informed Lord Swinton and Sir Adeane. JRC.”

In June 1953, Winston Churchill suffered a stroke that was kept a secret from all but Queen Elizabeth and a few political intimates. The PM’s day-to-day operations were left to John Colville and Churchill’s son-in-law, Christopher Soames, who managed matters, as Colville noted in his diary, “careful not to allow our own judgments to be given Prime Ministerial effect.” This Directive may well have been directed at keeping news of Churchill’s stroke out of the newspapers.

The Directive was acquired from the estate of Sir John Colville (1915-1987), Winston Churchill’s Principal Private Secretary during the war, and after, right through Churchill’s second stint as Prime Minister. No one was closer to Churchill at work than Sir John Rupert Colville, familiarly known as “Jock.”