But a recording by Winston Churchill’s former aide has revealed the politician did have an illicit romance with Doris Castlerosse (pictured)
It was the alleged affair that kept historians guessing for decades.
But a recording by Winston Churchill’s former aide has revealed the politician did have an illicit romance with Doris Castlerosse, great-aunt of model Cara Delevingne.
The former prime minister was rumoured to have been unfaithful to wife Clementine with the London socialite in the 1930s, but it had never been proved.
Now the discovery of a taped interview with Churchill’s former private secretary Sir John ‘Jock’ Colville confirms the affair.
Two years before his death in 1987, Sir John told archivists at Cambridge University’s Churchill College: ‘Winston Churchill was not a highly sexed man at all, and I don’t think that in his 60 or 55 years’ married life he ever slipped up, except on this one occasion.’
He added: ‘Lady Churchill was not with him and by moonlight in the south of France he certainly had an affair, a brief affair with Castlerosse as I think she was called. Doris Castlerosse, yes, that’s right.’
The admission was uncovered by Dr Warren Dockter, of Aberystwyth University, who told the Sunday Times the tape had been long and dull until he heard the ‘bombshell’.
Doris Castlerosse and Winston Churchill are pictured together on a beach near the Chateau de L’Horizon, in southern France, in the mid-1930s
Lady Castlerosse’s niece Caroline Delevingne confirmed the fling, in an interview for Channel 4 documentary Churchill’s Secret Affair. ‘They had an affair,’ she said. ‘When Winston was coming to visit her, the staff were all given the day off … the next day Doris confided in my mother about it.’
The romance lasted from 1933 to 1937, when Churchill was not in office, according to the programme. They would meet at a French chateau owned by actress Maxine Elliott. Churchill painted at least two portraits of Lady Castlerosse, one of her reclining on a chaise longue.
In a 1934 letter found by Professor Richard Toye, of Exeter University, Churchill wrote to his mistress: ‘What fun we had at Maxine’s. It was beautiful having you there. You were once again a manifest blessing and a ray of sunshine around the pool.’
After the affair ended the pair met in the US in 1942. Lady Castlerosse was desperate to return to the UK and, with the portrait safely in her possession, persuaded her ex-lover into helping her travel to London.
Doris Castlerosse, who had an affair with Winston Churchill, was the great-aunt of model Cara Delevingne (pictured)
Churchill warned it would damage relations between the US and the UK if the painting fell into the wrong hands, according to Lady Castlerosse’s husband Valentine.
The socialite was found dead at the Dorchester hotel two months later, after an overdose. She had also had a fling with Churchill’s son Randolph earlier in the 1930s when he was 21.
The Channel 4 documentary airs on March 4 at 8pm.