Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) was a British statesman who twice served as Prime Minister, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential political leaders of the 20th century.
His leadership of the nation during WWII helped secure victory for the Allies against Nazi Germany, and he played a major role in creating unity throughout Europe after the war.
Churchill also won the Nobel Prize for Literature, became the first honorary citizen of the United States, and was voted as the Greatest Briton of all time in a national poll in 2002.
Harold Macmillian (1894 – 1986) was a British politician and statesman who served as Prime Minister from 1957 until 1963.
Having fought at the Battle of the Somme during WWI, he became a protégé of Prime Minister Winston Churchill during WWII, and later served as Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Macmillian presided over a period of economic growth in Britain, and fostered a strong 'special relationship' with the U.S, but was forced to retire when his government was scandalised by the Profumo Affair in 1963.
Henry Hopkinson (1902 – 1996) was a British diplomat and Conservative politician.
He fulfilled several diplomatic roles throughout WWII, before being elected Member of Parliament for Taunton in 1950, and later served under Winston Churchill as Secretary for Overseas Trade and as Minister of State for Colonial Affairs.
Hopkinson also acted as a Delegate to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, and to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Amidst the devastating aftermath of WWII, Winston Churchill gave a famous speech at the University of Zurich on September 19, 1946, in which he called for the creation of a Council of Europe.
The aim of the council was to make another war unthinkable, and to promote democracy, the rule of law, human rights and cultural cooperation.
The Council of Europe eventually was founded on May 5, 1949, when the Treaty of London was signed by ten states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
The first meeting of the council took place three months later in Strasbourg, during which Churchill gave a speech to the assembly, saying:
"It is by the spirit that we shall establish our force, and it is by the growth and gathering of the united sentiment of Europeanism, vocal here and listened to all over the world, that we shall succeed in taking, not executive decisions, but in taking a leading and active part in the revival of the greatest of continents which has fallen into the worst of misery."
Today the Council of Europe is the oldest international organization working towards European integration, with 47 member states with some 800 million citizens.
This photograph was taken during the historic first meeting of the Council of Europe, and features various politicians and statesmen including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
The photograph mount bears the clear signatures of both Churchill and Macmillan in black ink, along with British diplomat and politician Henry Hopkinson's signature in blue ink below.
The vintage gelatin silver print measures 15.5 x 16.9 cm, bears some slight chipping to the image, and is slightly loose around the corners of the mount.
A superb signed piece capturing one of the most important moments in 20th century European history.