Is it right to put Winston on the new 5 pounds note?

The New 5 Pounds note
The New 5 Pounds note

It was announced last Friday at Chartwell – W. Churchill former residence – that the new 5 pounds note will bear his effigy, replacing Elisabeth Fry. The new note will be put in circulation on 2016.

The Churchillian myth will thus survive well into the next century.

The portrait used will be the great 1941’s shot by Yousuf Karsh (1908 – 2002). He took this photograph while Churchill was in Canada, speaking at the Canadian Parliament. It became one of the iconic images of the twentieth century. In it he appears like a fighting bulldog, ready to bite off an arm of Adolf Hitler.

Karsh was commissioned to shoot a portrait of the Great Man during a pause of the session at the Parliament, but Churchill was in no mood for it. Finally he sat down facing the camera and lit a cigar. He kept puffing at it, not caring for the photographer. Here are Karsh’s recollections:

“Churchill’s cigar was ever present. I held out an ashtray, but he would not dispose of it. I went back to my camera and made sure that everything was all right technically. I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, “Forgive me, sir,” and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph.”

In a few words he was mad at Karsh, not at the Nazi.

On the back of the picture there will be his Nobel prize medal. Churchill was hoping in the Nobel prize for Peace but in 1953 he got the one for Literature, for which he could’t care less. As a matter of fact this Nobel prize was awarded to him because of his hugely successful 6 volumes ‘History of the Second World War’ which made him rich.
Fact is that he did not write it, as professor David Raynolds has clearly proved in his ‘In Command of History. Churchill fighting and writing the Second World War’ London, 2004. They were written by a team of historians, Deakin at their head, under his supervision. They did agree to remain silent and were paid a pittance but had access to secret documents that Churchill, without permission, had taken away from the War Office.

Winston Churchill had been a great speaker, but also a man of monumental mistakes that caused disasters during WW1 and WW2. I am not sure if he deserves to be offered as an example to the next generations of Britons and Europeans. It is true that he defeated Nazi Germany, but he was also one of those politicians who scattered the seeds of Nazism before, during and after WW1. Is it not time for Britain to stop dreaming about her imperial past, close those bloody pages and look forward to a better and common future?


A funny note to close:

The main Italian daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, on 27/04/2013 announces that Churchill will replace Queen Elisabeth on the 5 pounds banknote. Not Elisabeth Fry, and here is the link:

3 commenti su “Is it right to put Winston on the new 5 pounds note?”

  1. Yes it is right! No it isn’t!
    It depends by the perspective point of view and perhaps half a century after Sir WC death isn’t still enough.
    There are excellent and brilliant actions and decision, nevertheless some clouds needs to be dissolved by history and “history is written by the winner”.
    A great nation should rescue from the oblivion those heroes and personalities universally recognized and UK must have many.


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