Churchill to Feature on Next U.K. Banknote, King Says

Winston Churchill, Britain’s World War II prime minister, will appear on the next U.K. banknote, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said.

“Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer,” King said at an event today at Chartwell, Churchill’s former country home near Westerham in southeast England. “Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all.”

The current plan is for the new design to appear on the five-pound ($7.72) note and to be introduced into circulation in 2016, though that has yet to be confirmed, the central bank said in an e-mailed statement.

After an early career as a soldier and war correspondent, Churchill, born in 1874, first became a member of Parliament in 1901. He replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister in 1940 and helped lead the allies to victory over Nazi Germany. The words from his first speech as premier, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” will appear on the new note.

Today’s event takes place at a property Churchill purchased in 1922, where he pursued interests including painting and bricklaying as well as writing works which later earned him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. He was awarded honorary U.S. citizenship in 1963.

Churchill died Jan. 24, 1965, and was given a state funeral, the last non-royal to be so honored. Queen Elizabeth II led the mourning, making her only appearance at a service for a former prime minister until the funeral of Margaret Thatcher on April 17.

Historical Figures

The former premier’s image may replace that of Elizabeth Fry on the five-pound note. She was a social reformer who worked to improve U.K. prison conditions in the early part of the 19th century. The redesign is the Bank of England’s latest, following the introduction of steam-engine pioneers Matthew Boulton and James Watt on the 50-pound note in 2011, and economist Adam Smith on the 20-pound note in 2007.

The 10-pound note that features naturalist Charles Darwin, author of “On the Origin of Species,” was first issued in 2000. The Fry note was introduced in 2002.

The U.K. has taken steps to boost the circulation of “fivers” to increase Britons’ confidence in their ability to transact in cash. King said in 2007 a shortage of the bills left existing notes looking increasingly “soiled” as banks were reluctant to stock their cash machines with the lowest-denomination paper money.

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