These Were Winston Churchill's Last Words Before His Death

When it was announced that former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965, at the age of 90, his death was considered by many to be the end of an era, according to "Churchill: Walking with Destiny," an expansive 2018 biography by Andrew Roberts. "The day of giants is gone forever," wrote the historian Sir Arthur Bryant, while novelist V.S. Pritchett claimed that, with Churchill's death, the past was now "irrecoverable." Similarly, French President Charles de Gaulle, met the news of Churchill's demise with the words: "Now Britain is no longer a Great Power."

Roberts reported that Churchill was treated to one of the grandest non-royal funerals in British history with nine military bands performing as a tribute to the late prime minister. But while the public was treated to this kind of pomp and ceremony, the details of Churchill's death would later reveal the tragic circumstances of his final days. Some of those notes were uncanny, such as the fact that he had died on the anniversary of his own father's death, as he predicted to his friend John Colville in 1955 (per the Daily Mail). Others, meanwhile, were haunting, such as his austere and disturbing last words, which, Roberts chronicles, were uttered to his son-in-law, Christopher Soames: "I'm so bored with it all."

Churchill's bleak final years

Though Winston Churchill was still officially working as a member of Parliament a year before his death, he had in fact been ill for some time. As told by the historian Roy Jenkins in his book, "Churchill," in 1951 at the age of 77 years old, Churchill was again voted in as Prime Minister. But even at that time, many around him already believed he was too physically impaired to perform the role. But Churchill was stubborn and he continued in the role, only resigning his office as prime minister under pressure in 1955, when he was then replaced by Anthony Eden (per Jenkins). The author also suggests that Churchill's reluctance to give up power years earlier may well have affected his health in his final years.

According to The New York Times, Churchill's final words were uttered on January 15, more than a week before his eventual death. He first suffered a "cerebral arterial spasm" in December, according to Andrew Roberts, followed by a stroke on January 9, with his long-declining health perhaps shedding some light on the frustration evident in his last words.

Winston Churchill's 'Black Dog'

Winston Churchill was well known for his shimmering wit throughout his life. As early as 1949, on the day of his 75th birthday, for example, Churchill told the assembled well wishers: "I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is ready for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter." Due to his witticisms throughout his life, Churchill's despairing final words came as a surprise for many to learn.

However, as well as his boundless energy and socialite lifestyle — he constantly smoked cigars and reportedly drank champagne almost continuously — he was also open about those times in his life that were far from joyous. As noted by psychology professor Nassir Chaemi in The Conversation, beloved former prime minister suffered from chronic depression throughout his life, then more commonly known as 'melancholia.' Depression was such a constant companion for Churchill that he even had his own nickname for it: the Black Dog. With the frustration of ill health plaguing him for so long, it follows that circumstances may have brought his mood so low in those final days. Today, Churchill is still remembered for his exuberance in life as he is for his political accomplishments.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.