(Read more at Hillsdale College Churchill Project)
Churchill’s faith in personal diplomacy—solving intractable problems by meetings at the highest level—was famously expressed during World War II.
Less widely known is Churchill’s 1914 proposal for a conference of heads of state (including, it seems, French President Raymond Poincaré) in an effort to head-off World War I. The scheme failed, but not for Churchill’s lack of trying.
There is little on Churchill’s “kingly conference” in the literature. There is no reference in Churchill’s The World Crisis, Asquith’s memoirs, or biographies by Manchester, Jenkins, Rose, Charmley and Birkenhead, though Sir Martin Gilbert includes in the official biography an excerpt from a cabinet member which records Churchill’s words in the cabinet of July 27th:
Churchill said we were now in a better than average condition, & the fleet was at war strength….Churchill, however, added: it was an appalling calamity for civilised nations to contemplate & thought possibly sovereigns could be brought together for sake of Peace.…