SIR Winston Churchill is to become the first British politician of the modern era to feature on a banknote.
The country’s war-time leader will appear on the next £5 note when it is issued in 2016. It will feature a renowned portrait of Churchill in defiant pose, taken by photographer Yousuf Karsh in December 1941.
Behind him is a view of the Houses of Parliament, with the hands showing three o’clock. It reflects the approximate time of a statement to the House of Commons on 13 May, 1940, when he famously told MPs: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The quote itself is also on the note.
A background image shows the Nobel Prize for literature, with citation, awarded in 1953 to Churchill, who was a prolific historical writer.
Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King made the announcement about the new £5 note during an event at Chartwell, Churchill’s former home in Kent, attended by members of his family.
He said: “Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all. “
Sir Mervyn suggested the note could become known as a “Winston”, and that the spirit of Churchill’s inspirational “blood, toil, tears and sweat” speech was just as important during today’s economic difficulties as during the Second World War. He said: “We do not face the challenges faced by Churchill’s generation. But we have our own. And the spirit of those words remains as relevant today as it was to my parents’ generation who fought for the survival of our country and freedom under Churchill’s leadership.”
Churchill’s image replaces that of Elizabeth Fry, the philanthropist and penal reformer, who appears on the current £5 notes, first issued in 2002. These will be phased out over two or three years, leaving no notes featuring the face of a famous woman – other than the Queen.
Another war hero, the Duke of Wellington, is the only other prime minister to have featured on a banknote image – the old £5 phased out in the 1990s.
Sir Winston’s grandson, Mid Sussex Tory MP Nicholas Soames, said featuring on a banknote would have given the former prime minister great pleasure. He said: “He was an extraordinary man and his ability to capture the mood and the people’s mood was one of his great gifts as a statesman. My grandfather would have been truly very proud.”
Churchill was prime minister between 1940 and 1945 and again from 1951-55. He died in 1965 and was given a full state funeral, the first commoner to receive such an honour.