A diamond-encrusted cigar box which was presented to Winston Churchill as a gift has gone on display at Blenheim Palace.
The ornate box, which is made from green malachite and ivory with a diamond encrusted handle and Churchill’s initials in gold on the lid, was created by Wolfers Frères in Brussels and is believed to be worth in excess of £1m.
It was given to Sir Winston Churchill by the Belgian Congo with an inscription which translates as: ‘A tribute from the Belgian Congo which never despairs to the one who never despairs – Winston Spencer Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain at war.’
The box, which is on loan from Randolph Churchill, Winston’s great-grandson, is part of a new Churchill exhibition at the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site which also features a collection of his paintings, as well as an easel and palette used by the great man.
Inside the box are four cigars presented to Sir Winston by King Peter of Yugoslavia with bands depicting the Royal Coat of Arms.
“The cigar box is incredibly ornate and the combination of the gold, the ivory and the stunning green malachite is certainly eye-catching,” said Blenheim Palace’s Head of House and Collections, Kate Ballenger.
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in 1874, spent much of his childhood there, and proposed to his beloved wife Clementine in the Temple of Diana in 1908 during a summer downpour.
Blenheim Palace also played a key role in WWII – both as a temporary home to 400 Malvern Schoolboys who were evacuated as well as a centre for MI5.
The Palace and its surroundings were a constant source of inspiration for Churchill and several of his paintings were completed there.
Winston’s love of Blenheim Palace remained to his dying day, he chose to be buried beside his parents in the cemetery of St Martin’s Church in Bladon – the tower of which can be seen from the Blenheim Palace State Rooms.