Autumn 1885 (Age 11)

As Secretary of State for India, Lord Randolph Churchill became increasingly irritated as Queen Victoria lobbied to have her son, the Duke of Connaught, appointed to the Bombay Command. Winston later reported that Lord Randolph “resisted the appointment with an obstinate determination.” What the son could not reveal, for obvious reasons, was that his father had developed an active distrust of the Royal Family. In Randolph’s view, “in actual hostilities Royal Dukes are a source of great embarrassment, discontent and danger.” This dispute occasioned Lord Randolph’s first resignation from Lord Salisbury’s Cabinet, but it was quickly withdrawn. A more important issue was the question of Home Rule for Ireland. Churchill thought it impossible but agreed to meet the Irish half way. When they declined to reciprocate, he kept his own counsel and said little publicly on the issue.

“I cannot think why you did not come to see me … I was very disappointed, but I suppose you were too busy.”

In the November General Election, Lord Randolph was defeated by John Bright in Birmingham despite the active involvement of Lady Randolph and the Duchess of Marlborough. One voter told Lady Randolph, “I like your husband and I like what he says. But I can’t throw off John Bright like an old coat.” Churchill was elected in South Paddington the next day.

Back in school in Brighton, Winston asked his mother for “half a quid or 10 bob if you know what that is.” He also enquired about a visit from his father, but after Lord Randolph made a political trip to Brighton without visiting his son, Winston wrote him, “I cannot think why you did not come to see me … I was very disappointed, but I suppose you were too busy.”

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