Who was Randolph Churchill?
Randolph Churchill was a British journalist, writer, politician, and the son of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. After three unsuccessful attempts to enter Parliament, Randolph finally became a Conservative Member of Parliament for Preston, in 1940. He also served as an intelligence officer in Yugoslavia and the Middle East during the ‘Second World War.’ Randolph wrote many books, such as ‘The Fight for the Tory Leadership,’ ‘The Rise and Fall of Sir Anthony Eden,’ ‘Lord Derby: King of Lancashire,’ ‘Fifteen Famous English Homes,’ and ‘Arms and The Covenant.’ Actor Nigel Havers portrayed Randolph Churchill in the 1981 television series ‘Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years.’ He was also portrayed by Tom Hiddleston in the 2002 television biographical film, ‘The Gathering Storm.’
Childhood & Early Life
Randolph Churchill was born Randolph Frederick Edward Spencer-Churchill on May 28, 1911, in London, England, to Clementine and Winston Churchill. He attended ‘Sandroyd School’ in Wiltshire and later went to ‘Eton College’ in Berkshire. He left ‘Eton College’ in the late 1920s and joined ‘Christ Church,’ a constituent college of the ‘University of Oxford.’
In October 1930, Randolph dropped out of ‘Oxford’ to conduct a lecture tour in the United States. Even after earning $12,000 from his tour, he had to borrow $2,000 from his father’s friend Bernard Baruch because of his lavish lifestyle. It took him 30 years to repay the debt.
In the early 1930s, he started working as a journalist for ‘Rothermere press.’ He started his political career in January 1935 by announcing his candidacy in the ‘Liverpool Wavertree by-election.’ In March, he sponsored an independent candidate named Richard Findlay to stand in a by-election in Norwood.
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Military Service & Career
In August 1939, Randolph joined his father’s cavalry regiment, ‘4th Queen's Own Hussars.’ On the outbreak of the ‘Second World War,’ his father, who was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, sent him aboard ‘HMS Kelly’ along with Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten to escort the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
During the wartime by-election in September 1940, Randolph was elected to Parliament. Subsequently, he was sent to Egypt to serve as a General Staff officer at the ‘Middle East Headquarters.’ After being promoted to the rank of Major in 1941, he was sent on various military missions in places like Yugoslavia.
His attendance in the House of Commons was irregular throughout the early 1940s. He lost in the 1945 ‘United Kingdom general election.’ In February 1950, he contested for the Parliamentary seat of Plymouth Devonport but was unsuccessful. In 1951, he contested for the Parliamentary seat again, but was unsuccessful once again. After losing the 1951 general election, Randolph’s drinking problem worsened, which led to behavioral problems.
Randolph took to writing and journalism throughout the 1950s. In 1958, he published six articles about the ‘Suez Crisis’ for the ‘Daily Express.’ In 1959, he published one of his most infamous books ‘The Rise and Fall of Sir Anthony Eden.’ In 1960, he published the biography of Edward Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby, to prove that he was worthy enough to write his father’s biography. In May 1960, his father approved him for writing his biography.
In 1964, he contracted bronchopneumonia which made him weak. He also underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his lung. Despite struggling with his deteriorating health, Churchill started writing his father’s biography and published the first volume in 1966. In the same year, he signed a contract with Robert Kennedy to write a biography of Robert’s brother John F. Kennedy.
Randolph Churchill passed away even before publishing the second volume of his father’s biography. He died in his sleep on June 6, 1968, after suffering a cardiac arrest. His mortal remains were buried at ‘St Martin's Church’ near Woodstock, Oxfordshire.
Family & Personal Life
Randolph Churchill was known as a womanizer as he had multiple relationships throughout his life. During his lecture tour in the US, he fell in love with Katherine Murphy Halle and wanted to marry her despite being seven years her junior. His parents forced him to change his mind.
In September 1939, he got engaged to English-born American political activist Pamela Digby. Pamela’s friends and parents were not happy about the engagement. However, Randolph’s parents thought she would be a positive influence on him and hence convinced her to marry their son. Randolph and Pamela got married in October 1939 and were blessed with a son, on October 10, 1940. They named him Winston Churchill,
Randolph divorced Pamela in 1946 and started a relationship with a woman named June Osborne who was eleven years his junior. He married June Osborne in November 1948 and the couple was blessed with a daughter, Arabella, on October 30, 1949.