“The Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the President of the United States.” **
[More likely: “You see, Mr. President, I have nothing to hide.”]
This was allegedly stated by Churchill during his visit to the White House following Pearl Harbor in December 1941, according to Churchill’s bodyguard, Walter Thompson, and one of his secretaries, Patrick Kinna, on the strength of which I included it as likely in Churchill By Himself.
The story goes that Roosevelt, inspired to call the new world body he hoped to organize after the war the “United Nations,” wheeled himself into Churchill’s room, finding the PM, as Harry Hopkins put it, “stark naked and gleaming pink from his bath.” But Hopkins was not present; he had this secondhand. Later, queried by Roosevelt biographer Robert Sherwood, Churchill said: “I could not possibly have made such a statement as that. The President himself would have been well aware that it was not strictly true.”
Whatever Churchill said,the encounter apparently did occur. Recalling his White House visit to King George VI at Buckingham Palace in January 1942, Churchill remarked: “Sir, I believe I am the only man in the world to have received the head of a nation naked.”
Churchill must have repeated his crack to the King to Roosevelt, who told his confidante, Daisy Suckley, and the British Ambassador, Lord Halifax, on 17 January 1945. (See Geoffrey C. Ward, Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley, 384-85.)
In Suckley’s version, WSC did not say he had “nothing to hide,” which he denied saying to Robert Sherwood. According to Suckley, Roosevelt simply said, “United Nations!” and Churchill responded, “Good!”
**Paul Screeton prompted this post when he wrote that columnist and TV show host Jeremy Kyle has pondered whether Prime Minister David Cameron similarly sealed the special bond between the UK and USA during the visit of Barack Obama. (The Sun, 26 May 2011)