Mary Soames, youngest child of Winston Churchill, dies at 91

Mary Soames, youngest child of Winston Churchill, dies at 91
Mary Soames, left, the youngest daughter of Clementine and Winston Churchill, all seen here in 1963, has died at 91. (Leonard Brown / Associated Press)

Mary Soames, the last surviving child of British World War II leader Winston Churchill, has died at her London home. She was 91.

Her son Nicholas Soames said she died Saturday after a short illness.


Soames wrote several books that provided an affectionate yet unsparing vision of her volatile, brilliant father and an intimate view of one of England's most prominent families.

"It's not my fault if my grandfather died of syphilis or my fault if my grandmother was very extravagant and liked marrying young men," she told an interviewer in 1982. "Each to their own."

She recalled her mother, Clementine, as "rather lonely" even as she coped with the needs of her children and the demands of Churchill's political life and wartime efforts.

"There was never any doubt … as to who would be the winner of this contest — Winston, both now and forever, would be Clementine's first priority — before children, friends, and her own interests," Soames wrote in "Family Album," a 1982 memoir.

Soames' parents were married for nearly 60 years before Churchill's death in 1965. After somber state ceremonies, Clementine remarked to her daughter that the day, while long and trying, had also been a glorious one.

"You know, Mary, it wasn't a funeral," she said. "It was a triumph."

Soames wrote a highly regarded 1979 biography of her mother, "Clementine Churchill: The Biography of a Marriage."

Born Sept. 15, 1922, Mary Soames was the youngest of the Churchills' five children.

Just 17 at the outbreak of World War II, she worked initially for the Red Cross. At 18, she signed on with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a women's military unit, serving in London, Belgium and Germany with anti-aircraft batteries.

She also accompanied her father on several overseas journeys, including the 1945 postwar planning conference in Potsdam, Germany, attended by U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

After the war, she married Conservative politician Christopher Soames, becoming Lady Soames when he was made a peer.

She is survived by five children, including Nicholas, a Conservative member of Parliament.