On This Day

The Day Myanmar’s First Prime Minister Met Winston Churchill

By Wei Yan Aung 20 June 2020

Yangon — On this day in 1955, former British prime minister Winston Churchill and the first prime minister of independent Myanmar (then Burma), U Nu, met in London. U Nu was already six years into his premiership and was on a tour of England, Israel, Japan, the USA and Yugoslavia. 

The meeting took place at the request of U Nu on his arrival in England. Shaking hands with the leader of the former British colony, 80-year-old Churchill, who had retired from his second period as prime minister in April 1955, said: “Let us bury our old animosities.” 

“Yes! We must, Sir Winston,” was U Nu’s eager reply.  

Churchill’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, who served as the secretary of state for India, was a key figure behind Britain’s Burmese expansion. Churchill wanted to preserve the colony during his first tenure as prime minister from 1941 to 1945.  

After Churchill’s Conservative Party lost the 1945 general election, the colony gained its independence.  

In his autobiography, “Saturday’s Son”, U Nu wrote about his meeting with Churchill: “By that time Sir Winston had slowed down considerably. He walked with some difficulty and his gait, as he descended the stairs, was awkward and unsteady. Sir Winston was also hard of hearing, which compelled U Nu to shout his words. As they sat at a table, there was a bottle of liquor on it. A single glass reposed beside, Sir Winston asked, “Where’s the glass for U Nu?”. 

The secretary told him U Nu did not drink. Half an hour later, the host and guest appeared outside the house to be photographed.

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