She Who Must Be Obeyed

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Nineteen year old Clementine Hozier met 29-year old Winston Churchill in 1904 at a dance. He "stared and never uttered one word and was very gauche.” Four years later they met again. This time romance bloomed. Although the granddaughter of an earl, Clementine was poor and frugal. The announcement of her engagement to Winston was met with ridicule from high society over the fact that she made many of her own clothes.

She and Winston married in 1908 and spent the next 57 years together until Winston’s death at the age of 90. They had five children, including a daughter Marigold (nicknamed Duckadilly) who died of blood poisoning in the care of a nanny at the age of 3, a tragedy neither parent got over.

Though Clementine was a liberal, she was nonetheless devoted to her conservative husband and made supporting him her first priority. But behind the scenes, she told him what she thought and was the only person who could rebuke him for boorish behavior. Winston could be obstinate and temperamental, but he was always outspoken in his love for his wife. In correspondence, he called her “cat” and she called him “pug.” Their fights were usually about money. Winston, known for being “easily satisfied with the very best,” tended to overspend. During one dispute, she threw a plate of spinach at him. Winston, wisely, often referred to her as “she-whose-commands-must-be-obeyed.”

Taller than Winston, she was known as a better athlete. She loved horseback riding, tennis, and took up skiing at age 40. She could also rock a turban!!!

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