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1965: Last farewell to Churchill

VIDEO : Britain says farewell to Churchill

Thousands of people have paid their last respects to Britain's greatest wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill who was buried today after a full state funeral.

Silent crowds lined the streets to watch the gun carriage bearing Sir Winston's coffin leave Westminster Hall as Big Ben struck 0945. The procession travelled slowly through central London to St Paul's cathedral for the funeral service.

Sir Winston died six days ago, following a stroke earlier in the month from which he never regained consciousness.

A total of 321,360 people filed past the catafalque during the three days of lying-in-state.

World watches funeral

Today, millions around the world watched the funeral procession at home and abroad as television pictures were beamed from 40 BBC cameras placed along the route.

The mourners were led by Sir Winston's wife, Lady Clementine Churchill, his son Randolph and daughters Mary Soames and Lady Sarah Audley. The Queen and other members of the royal family, the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and representatives of 112 countries packed into the cathedral for the service.

The funeral cortege was accompanied by a 19-gun salute and an RAF fly-past as it began the journey to Sir Winston's final resting place. At Tower Hill, the coffin was piped aboard the launch Havengore for the voyage up the Thames.

Coffin route

From Waterloo, it was placed onto a train drawn by a Battle of Britain locomotive named Winston Churchill. Thousands gathered to pay tribute at wayside stations. At many football matches a two-minute silence was observed.

Sir Winston was finally laid to rest in the Oxfordshire parish churchyard of Bladon, close to Blenheim Palace where he was born 90 years before, with only family members present.

In Context
Sir Winston Churchill was the first statesman to be given a state funeral in the 20th century.

Former prime ministers, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Henry Palmerston and William Gladstone, had preceded him in this posthumous honour in the 19th century.

Sir Winston left a wife and three children. His eldest daughter, Diana, had committed suicide in 1963 and another daughter died in infancy.

His political legacy lives on. His grandson, Nicholas Soames, is a Conservative MP and former armed forces minister. Another grandson, Winston Churchill, served as a Tory MP until 1997 when he lost his seat.

A BBC survey in January 2000 voted Sir Winston the greatest British prime minister of the 20th century. BBC viewers and users voted him the greatest Briton in November 2002.


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