St. Paul’s Cathedral has caused an uproar after describing Sir Winston Churchill as an “unruly imperialist” and “white supremacist” in a web-based application for Britain’s endearing conflict leader.
The cathedral, which held Sir Winston’s state funeral in 1965, only removed the extremely derogatory descriptions in the last week after complaints that they defamed the man hailed as the greatest Briton of all time.
The Mail on Sunday understands the offending description appeared on the St Paul’s website for more than 12 months, but it remained unclear as of last night who was responsible for writing it.
In an article about the state funeral, the website praised the conflict leader’s stance, “fending off the threat of invasion and promoting a retreat against the Nazi occupation of Europe.”
But it added: “He is also a controversial figure because he was an unabashed imperialist and white supremacist.”
Sir Winston Churchill hails the well-known “V” as the signature of victory, speaking of Britain’s lovely conflict leader
The offending description appeared on St. Paul’s website for more than 12 months
Sir Winston’s state funeral was held in St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1965. Only in the last week have the extremely derogatory descriptions been eliminated.
Sir Winston’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, last night said the household was upset by what he called “deeply hurtful, thoughtless, stupid and ignorant” comments.
The 75-year-old Tory peer said his grandfather “saved England” mainly by fighting against Hitler’s racist Nazi regime.
He added: “Even if we do allow some of the more extreme views in the Church of England, it really has gone too far. It was very offensive and caused great offense to some members of my family and many people lodged protests. I am pleased to see that the Chancellor of the Cathedral has now apologised. and caused that factor to be removed. I don’t know how it got there. It’s such a factor that’s so thoughtless and foolish and ignorant, and it affects the image of the Church very much. It’s such an awful factor to say.
Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “This is getting ridiculous. Anyone who publishes this kind of data should look at themselves and ask themselves why they hate this nation, its historical past and its heritage so much. They are idiots.
Sir Winston’s offensive description was amended on Friday to read: “He is also a controversial figure, especially from a modern perspective.”
The cathedral began moving after receiving a complaint from Nick Gent, 72, a member of the Friends of St. Paul. In a letter last month, he wrote: “I believe that some of the language you used in your profile of Churchill is too loaded, judgmental to the point of demonizing Churchill. Perhaps this language is a function of ignorance or political ideology. He admitted that Churchill often made himself a “hostage of happiness” with remarks and jokes that this very moment could be considered unacceptable.
But he pointed out that it is necessary to judge a man by his effectiveness in defeating Hitler.
Sir Winston’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, last night said the household was upset by what he called “deeply hurtful, thoughtless, stupid and ignorant” comments. Sir Nicholas is pictured at Royal Ascot on 27 July 2019
Then Prime Minister Winston Churchill is pictured with Queen Elizabeth II at the Commonwealth Economic Conference at Buckingham Palace on 3 December 1952.
On Thursday, Chancellor Dr. Paula Gooder wrote in an email to Mr. Gent: “We agree that the tone is inconsistent with the rest of the page or pages on the website. We have eliminated this sentence and hope that the paragraph is now particularly balanced and appropriate in this context.
Mr Gent said: “Churchill was such a great humanist who transcended politics. He should be a role model for the youth.
Historian Andrew Roberts said: “It’s great that St Paul’s has been reduced to being particularly awake. The cathedral was the center of the world at Churchill’s funeral in 1965, and their authentic mis-chosen phrases detracted from it. Because almost every thing from the previous is controversial, especially from a modern perspective; their new wording is pleasantly nonsensical.
Lady Antonia Fraser, historian and creator, said: “There is so much more that can be said about Churchill and that he was a wonderful man. He’s regularly recognized as the best Englishman and that’s where he stays as far as I’m concerned.
Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, said: “To talk about Churchill as a brazen imperialist and white supremacist is not only a historical distortion, but an attempt to epitomize everything that Britain stood for in the 20th century. discredit.’
A spokesman for St Paul’s said: “The information on our website about Winston Churchill’s state funeral has recently been updated. It has come to our attention that some of the text in the description does not match the tone of the rest of the page.
“So we reworded the paragraph to make the description more balanced and contextual.”
Insults to the memory of a national hero
This is not the main time that Sir Winston Churchill has been tarnished by institutions and campaigners.
He was branded a “white supremacist” who was “worse than the Nazis” at an event held at his college in Cambridge in 2021.
And the bronze statue in Westminster has withstood several attacks over time.
During the 2020 Black Lives Matter march, protesters painted the phrase “was a racist” on the memorial.
And for the past 12 months, Albanians have flown their national flag over the statue in protest a day earlier than Remembrance Day.
In 2000, during all the May Day riots, a strip of grass was placed on the monument’s scalp, giving Sir Winston the appearance of a Mohican-style untrimmed haircut.