SIR Winston Churchill’s marriage to Clementine was nearly called off after he met a previous girlfriend in Scotland three weeks before tying the knot, a book claims.
Young Titan: The Making Of Winston Churchill explains that in 1908, Churchill – who was just a minister at the time – met with the prime minister’s daughter Violet Asquith at Slain Castle in Aberdeenshire.
Violet – the grandmother of actress Helena Bonham Carter – then tried to get him to call off his wedding to Clementine Hozier claiming she was “as stupid as an owl”.
A “furious” Clemetine found out about the pre-wedding visit and threatened to call the whole thing off.
But her brother stepped in and advised her to go through with the wedding as it would be “disastrous” to cross a public figure like Churchill.
Michael Shelden – the book’s author – explains: “Churchill’s previous biographers have suggested that Clemmie was suffering from an ordinary case of nerves or that she was worried about the burdens of becoming a politician’s wife.
“But in reality Clemmie was furious. She threatened to break off the engagement.
“Her brother Bill had to talk her out of it – telling her that it would be disastrous for all concerned to humiliate a public figure of Winston’s stature.”
Churchill – aged 32 at the time – had already been rejected by three women and started a romance with 21-year-old Violet as a back-up to Clementine.
But when Clemmie – as she was known – accepted the proposal in August 1908 Churchill felt obliged to visit Violet and explain his decision in person.
On 24 August – just three weeks before his wedding – Churchill boarded the train at King’s Cross for the 14-hour train journey to Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire where he met Violet.
During the visit the pair walked through meadows and along the coastline and even went climbing together.
But during the visit Violet made her feelings clear – as she wrote in her memoirs – “whether [Churchill] will ultimately mind her being as stupid as an owl”.
At the time Clemmie said the reason for considering calling off the wedding was that Churchill had failed to pay her “sufficient attention”.
But they went on to enjoy 56 years of marriage before his death in 1965 – Clementine died in 1977 aged 92.
Churchill also wrote before his death: “I married, and lived happily every after.”