“Nothing to Hide”: The Truth about Churchill’s Naked Encounter

“Nothing to Hide”: The Truth about Churchill’s Naked Encounter

Stark Naked

Churchill (step­ping naked from his bath): “The Prime Min­is­ter of Great Britain has noth­ing to hide from the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States.” **

[Also quot­ed as: “You see, Mr. Pres­i­dent, I have noth­ing to hide.”]

Churchill alleged­ly said this dur­ing his vis­it to the White House in Decem­ber-Jan­u­ary 1941.  The Japan­ese had attacked Pearl Har­bor and Amer­i­ca was in the war.  The encounter was con­firmed by Churchill’s body­guard, Wal­ter Thomp­son, and one of his sec­re­taries, Patrick Kin­na. On the strength of their com­ments I includ­ed it as “like­ly” in Churchill By Him­self.

The sto­ry goes that Roo­sevelt thought to call the new world body  he hoped to orga­nize after the war the “Unit­ed Nations.” Excit­ed about the name, he wheeled him­self into Churchill’s room. There he found Churchill, as Har­ry Hop­kins, put it, “stark naked and gleam­ing pink from his bath.” Hop­kins repeat­ed his ver­sion of this remark (using “con­ceal” instead of “hide”) often enough to raise a pre­sump­tion in favour of its verac­i­ty. But per­haps not!

Churchill’s Recollection

Churchill nev­er con­firmed the wise­crack attrib­uted to him by Thomp­son and Kin­na. 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.” Churchill told Sher­wood he “nev­er received the Pres­i­dent with­out at least a bath tow­el wrapped around him.”

Of course, receiv­ing the Pres­i­dent in a bath tow­el may have been enough in Churchill’s mind tell  King George VI (just after return­ing from Wash­ing­ton): “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. FDR 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, Churchill did not say he had “noth­ing to hide,” which he had denied say­ing to Sher­wood. Accord­ing to Suck­ley, Roo­sevelt sim­ply said, “Unit­ed Nations!” and Churchill respond­ed, “Good!”

**Paul Scree­ton prompt­ed this post, ref­er­enc­ing colum­nist and TV show host Jere­my Kyle. Kyle won­dered whether Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron had sim­i­lar­ly sealed the bond Britain and Amer­i­ca with Barack Oba­ma. (The Sun, 26 May 2011)

Reader Comments: “Made in England. Size: Medium.”

I take the lib­er­ty of trans­lat­ing the amus­ing exchange with Anto­nio Car­los Da Cos­ta in the com­ments sec­tion below:

Sr. Da Cos­ta writes: “On Google I searched ‘Win­ston Churchill’s penis’ and locat­ed the item that shows: Churchill, Hitler, Roo­sevelt and Stal­in, with the out­line image of each penis. Why is Win­ston Churchill’s penis large and thin and the oth­ers are medi­um and thick? How did they get these pic­ture sketch­es? Spec­u­la­tions?

Response:  I am sure it is con­nect­ed with two sto­ries, the first con­firmed by an aide, the sec­ond doubt­ful. Encoun­ter­ing Labour Par­ty leader Clement Attlee at the trough in the House of Com­mons loo, Churchill shuf­fled far­ther away. “A lit­tle stand-off­ish today, are we Win­ston?” Attlee asked. Churchill had a quick response. “Every time you social­ists see some­thing big you want to nation­al­ize it.” (Pri­vate Sec­re­tary David Pit­bla­do to William Man­ches­ter, 21 Octo­ber 1980.)

Less like­ly but equal­ly amus­ing is the leg­end of a ship­ment of British con­doms to Mur­man­sk as part British aid to Rus­sia. The British have only one size: “extra large.” So Churchill orders that each box be marked: “Made in Eng­land. Size: Medi­um.”

Related legends

See “Roo­sevelt and Churchill: Don Quixote and San­cho Pan­za.”

5 thoughts on ““Nothing to Hide”: The Truth about Churchill’s Naked Encounter

  1. Estoy seguro de que está conec­ta­do con dos his­to­rias, la primera con­fir­ma­da por un ayu­dante, la segun­da dudosa. Al encon­trarse con el líder laborista Clement Attlee en los uri­nar­ios de la Cámara de los Comunes, Churchill bara­jó muy lejos. “Un poco dis­tante hoy, ¿somos Win­ston?” Pre­gun­tó Attlee. Churchill respondió: “Cada vez que los social­is­tas ven algo grande, quieren nacionalizar­lo”.

    Menos prob­a­ble pero igual­mente diver­tido es la leyen­da de un envío de con­dones británi­cos a Mur­man­sk como parte de la ayu­da británi­ca a Rusia. Churchill se entera de que el úni­co tamaño que los británi­cos podían ofre­cer era “extra grande”. Supues­ta­mente, orde­na que se mar­que cada casil­la: “Hecho en Inglater­ra. Tamaño: Medio.

  2. No Google pesqui­sei: Pênis de Win­ston Churchill e local­izei o item que mostra: Pênis de Churchill, Hitler, Roo­sevelt e Stal­in, mostran­do o esboço de imagem de cada pênis. Por que o pênis de Win­ston Churchill grande e fino e os out­ros são médios e grossos? Como con­seguiram estes esboços de ima­gens? Espec­u­lações?

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