Churchill talks to his father's ghost

One day in 1947, while Churchill was painting at Chartwell, the ghost of his father suddenly appeared. They had a long and fascinating conversation, which Churchill wrote down afterwards. His record of what they said to one another was published after his death, first in The Sunday Telegraph and then in the last volume of Martin Gilbert’s official biography of Churchill. On New Year’s Day,The Daily Telegraph published an article about a forthcoming dramatization of the conversation; Gary Oldman, who gave an acclaimed performance as Churchill in the film Darkest Hour, will play the part of the great man. In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph on January 7, Alistair Lexden quoted one section of the extraordinary conversation relating to the Crown and Parliament.

SIR- In briefing the ghost of his father about the state of the country’s great institutions in 1947 (Comment, January 1), Winston Churchill has faint praise for the House of Lords, referring only to its Bishops who “make a lot of speeches”.  His father asks: “Are they better than they used to be?”

Winston speaks much more enthusiastically about the strength of the monarchy, buttressed by the Labour Party. “They even go to the parties at Buckingham Palace. Those who have very extreme principles wear sweaters.” Lord Randolph finds that “very sensible. I am glad all that dressing up has been done away with”.

But what he really wants to know is whether the House of Commons is doing its job well. Winston is surprisingly restrained, saying that he is “very much in favour” of the elected House. His father replies, “You had better be, Winston, because the will of the people must prevail”. 

It is not hard to guess what he would have thought of Brexit.

Yours faithfully

Lord Lexden
London SW1