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 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.”