Marigold Churchill was the daughter of British politician, army officer, and writer Sir Winston Churchill, who served as the prime minister of the UK in the 1940s and the 1950s, and his wife, Clementine Churchill. Marigold was born 4 days after the 'First World War' ended. She had three older siblings. Marigold was just 2 years and 9 months old when she died of septicaemia. She was buried in a quiet and simple grave in London. Churchill's youngest child Mary Churchill was born a year after Marigold's death.
How did Marigold Churchill die?
Marigold Churchill died of septicemia on August 23, 1921. Prior to her death, Marigold was under the care of her French governess in the town of Broadstairs on the southeastern coast of England. Winston Churchill was away in Scotland and his wife Clementine was accompanying him. Marigold was suffering from cough and cold for six months which appears to have developed first into a bacterial infection and then septicemia. Winston Churchill was not at her daughter’s bedside at the time of her death.
Marigold’s parents met for the first time at a ball in 'Crewe House,' home of the Earl of Crewe, in 1904. It was a casual meet, and they did not interact much then. They, however, met again in March 1908, at a dinner party hosted by Lady St. Helier. Churchill happened to sit next to Clementine at the party, and the two thus began a conversation. Their relationship blossomed over the next few months, and in August the same year, Churchill proposed to his lady love in a small summer house known as the 'Temple of Diana.'
Winston Churchill and Clementine got married on September 12, 1908, in ‘St. Margaret's, Westminster.’ The wedding was conducted by the bishop of 'St Asaph.'
The eldest Churchill daughter, Diana, was born on July 11 the following year. Shortly after Diana’s birth, Clementine moved to Sussex to recover from her post-pregnancy sickness, leaving the newborn with a nanny. Marigold’s second-eldest sibling, Randolph, was born at 33 Eccleston Square, while her other older sister, Sarah, was born on October 7, 1914, at 'Admiralty House.' Churchill had to leave for Antwerp, as ordered by his cabinet, to manage the stressful political situation in Belgium that prevailed back then. The First World War had already begun by then.
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Birth & Death
Marigold was born Marigold Frances Churchill, on November 15, 1918. She was born four days after the 'First World War' ended officially. Churchill nicknamed his newborn baby “Duckadilly.”
Like Churchill, Marigold’s mother, too, had to travel extensively to meet influential people. She had a significant role in the First World War, for which she was appointed as the ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire’ (CBE) in 1918. Unfortunately, her travel schedules forced her to leave her children behind, under a nanny’s care. This was later thought to have caused Marigold's death.
Churchill had to leave for Scotland, and Clementine decided to accompany him. Their son and Sarah were supposed to join them later. They left Marigold in a rented cottage with a governess in the town of Broadstairs on the southeastern coast of England. She had already suffered from cough and cold before and had fallen ill twice.
In August 1921, a French nursery governess in Kent, Mlle Rose, was appointed for all four Churchill children. Around the same time, Clementine had to leave for ‘Eaton Hall’ to play tennis with Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster, and his family. Back in Kent, Marigold was suffering from cold. However, it was reported that she had recovered after a while. Unfortunately, Marigold did not actually recover, and her cold recurred. Her governess failed to notice Marigold's deteriorating health, and thus Marigold did not receive any effective treatment for the same. The illness eventually turned into septicemia and weakened the immune system of the little girl. Marigold’s governess was scared initially and delayed reporting to Clementine about the illness. She did send a telegraph to Clementine several weeks later, but it was too late by then. By the time Clementine reached Marigold, Marigold was already nearing death. Clementine immediately informed Churchill, who arrived by the next train.
On August 23, 1921, Marigold succumbed to her illness. She was buried in the 'Kensal Green Cemetery,' London, 3 days later. Marigold’s death shook the Churchills. Clementine conceived again a few months later. On September 15, 1922, their last child, Mary, was born.
In 'The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill,' a book series about Churchill’s life, has a heart-touching description of Marigold's last days by author William Manchester. He wrote that the ailing little girl had asked her mother to sing the popular tune 'Bubbles' to her. He also commented on Churchill and Clementine’s inability to maintain a harmonious work–life balance and blamed it for the loss of Marigold’s life.
Actor Margot Orr played Marigold in the TV movie 'Churchill's Secret.'
Interestingly, Marigold is the only Churchill member to be buried at the 'Kensal Green Cemetery.'