After an exile of nearly eight years, a bust of Sir Winston Churchill created by artist Sir Jacob Epstein will be returned “on loan” to the White House upon the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The bust was originally presented as a gift to former President George W. Bush in July 2001 by then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and displayed by President Bush in the Oval Office for the length of both of his terms in office, from 2001 to 2009.
But President Barack Obama handed the famous sculpture back to the United Kingdom in 2009, replacing it instead with one of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Although Mr. Obama said at a press conference that he had a second one in his private residence at the White House, the move was seen by outraged British citizens and lawmakers as a “snub to Britain.”
Since that time the Churchill bust has remained at the British Embassy in Washington DC.
Sir Winston Churchill, a Tory politician, served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom during the Holocaust of World War II — from 1940 to 1945 — and again from 1951 to 1955. He led England through the bombing raids by the German war machine, among other difficult moments in history.
Sir Winston had an American mother, and is the only person ever to have been granted an honorary U.S. passport. He passed away in 1965 at the age of 90 on the anniversary of the death of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, also a Tory politician.
President-elect Trump is said to be a great admirer of the late British prime minister, and has read British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s biography of Churchill. During talks at Trump Tower in New York a week ago, Trump advisers Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon asked the British foreign minister on behalf of the president-elect to return the bust.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May responded in a statement quoted by The Sun, “The prime minister is happy to loan the Churchill bust to the White House and will be delighted to view it on display when she visits this spring.”