LONDON, April 5, 1955 (UP) - Sir Winston Churchill, the grand old man of empire, today resigned as prime minister of Great Britain.
He had fought and defeated every enemy except the relentless passage of time.
Tears glistened in his eyes as he formally presented his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
Sir Anthony Eden will be his successor.
The 80-year-old statesman drove alone from his official residence at No. 10 Downing St. to the palace in the sunshine of a bright spring day. He stood at the doorway for a time, old and mute.
His fingers were raised in the "V" for victory sign, and tears stood bright in his eyes while from Buckingham Palace the announcement came officially that he had quit.
The announcement said:
"The right honorable Sir Winston Churchill had an audience of the Queen and tendered his resignation as prime minister and first lord of the treasury, which her majesty was graciously prepared to accept."
Eden, 57, is expected to be summoned to the palace tomorrow to receive the seals of office as Churchill's successor.
The emotional ordeal of handing his resignation to Elizabeth, whom he considers his "young, gleaming champion," unnerved Churchill.
He canceled a scheduled appearance in the House of Commons, he was afraid to trust his emotions in a farewell speech.
He held a private farewell meeting with his ministers. Then, alone and in silence, he retired to become a back bench elder statesman.
Last night he played host to the young queen at a farewell formal dinner party and received the rare tribute of a personal toast from Elizabeth.
Today Churchill drove through the parks once pitted by gun emplacements and returned to Elizabeth the charge he had accepted from her father, King George VI, 3 1/2 years ago.
A throng crowded the sidewalks at Buckingham Palace half an hour before Churchill's car arrived.
So many hundreds tried to jam Downing Street that policemen had to clear a passage through which the prime minister's black Humber limousine could pass.
Churchill looked pink and beaming as he stepped out of his residence.
He was dressed formally, with top hat and dark blue tie.
He waved to the crowd, cigar in hand, and smiled.
Then he started his last official mile ride to the palace. The trip took seven minutes.
His car went past the red-uniformed lifeguards in front of Horse Guards Arch, left through Admiralty Arch and down the mall to the palace and the fateful interview with the young queen.
For half an hour before the departure from No. 10, a pretty, white-bloused secretary helped east the waiting crowd's boredom by repeatedly peeking out a first-floor window in the prime minister's residence to wave to a boy friend.
"Good old Winnie," women cried at the palace.
Churchill responded with old world gallantry, leaning forward in the car, waving his top hat and grinning broadly.
Sentries snapped to a salute as his car drove through the iron gates of Buckingham Palace. Churchill stepped out and entered.
He was met by a palace guard dressed in blue battle dress with scarlet royal cipher on the pocket. The page was assigned to conduct Churchill in an electric elevator to the queen's apartments.
The procedure of resignation was as simple as it was far-reaching for the British commonwealth of nations: a request to the queen to let him and his ministers quit, and a recommendation that she summon Eden to succeed him.
The request and the recommendation are the queen's command, and Eden now falls heir to the post for which he has trained so long. Eden is expected to call for a general election - as early as May 16 or 26.
Churchill goes next week to Sicily for a vacation in the sunshine.
Reading about the great men in some future era, men might truly say as does the book of Genesis:
"There were giants in the earth in those days."
The prime minister's heart was warmed last night when Elizabeth cast protocol aside and offered a toast to Churchill - who despite all his honors is a "commoner." While the queen proposes toasts at state banquets to presidents and kings, there seldom is unbending at a private function.
"I propose the health of my prime minister," Elizabeth said.
Churchill sat with head bowed.
Churchill also served Elizabeth's father, King George VI, in the same post, her grandfather, King George V, and her great-grandfather, King Edward VII, as a member of the cabinet and her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, as a member of parliament. He has stood by as a friend and counselor when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated.
In his lifetime, Churchill was a statesman, warrior and author. He had a code: "Live dangerously. Take things as they come. Dread naught. All will be well."
He lived it from the start. His American mother, the former Jennie Jerome, was helped from a St. Andrew's ball at Blenheim Palace on Nov. 30, 1874, and gave birth to him two months prematurely in a cloakroom off the dance floor.
His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who was chancellor of the exchequer in 1886 and third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, sent him to Sandhurst, Britain's West Point. Churchill flunked the entrance examination twice.
He got in on the third try at the age of 19.
He went to Cuba in 1895 as a part-time war correspondent to see action with the Spanish army in the Cuban uprising. He came under fire for the first time on his 21st birthday in a jungle outside Arroyo Blanco. In Cuba also he picked up two lifelong habits - the cigar and the siesta.
At 22, he started a remarkable writing career that produced a million words of history, and in 1899, one novel, "Savrola," concerning which he later said:
"I have persistently urged my friends to abstain from reading it."
He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1953.
He went back to war in South Africa in 1899 to cover the Boer War for London's Morning Post. He got captured, escaped in story-book fashion and came home a hero. Thereupon he won a Conservative seat in Parliament. He was 26. Victoria still was the queen.
When World War II setbacks in Norway finished off the hesitant Neville Chamberlain, the audacious spirit and proved brilliance of Churchill made him the king's natural choice as prime minister.
He was everywhere, crossed the Atlantic 10 times, and in London he took to wearing coveralls - he called them his "siren suits" - after a bomb killed 12 people next door to No. 10 Downing Street, his official residence, in October 1940. It dumped the dining room chandelier onto the prime minister's table and spattered his suit with plaster dust.
He started spreading and poking aloft his second and third fingers to form a V-for-victory. The stubby fingers became the symbol of Allied will.
On VE-Day a great crowd jammed Whitehall. Thousands of faces turned up to a floodlit balcony where Churchill stood. "For he's a jolly good fellow" roared up from the darkness.
Three months later the British people voted him out of office.
The worst personal sorrow Churchill ever suffered was the death on Aug. 21, 1921, of his third daughter, Marigold, just short of her third birthday.
The greatest political blow he ever took was this 1945 election defeat. He could not understand it.
During the seven years of Laborite rule he kept calling the turns on history.
"From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across Europe," he said at Fulton, Mo., in March of 1946, when most western leaders still were trying to be nice to the Russians. The phrase "Iron Curtain" was born.
On Oct. 26, 1951, the British voters gave Churchill his dearest wish. They returned the Conservatives to office in a vote of confidence in his leadership and provided him with a last fling as elder statesman to the world.
A slight stroke in 1950 slowed him. A massive seizure in June 1953 staggered him dangerously.
But he willed himself back to health.