Trump returns bust of Churchill to Oval Office

Barack Obama had replaced figure of former prime minister with Martin Luther King Jr

Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Friday. Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/EPA

Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Friday. Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/EPA

 

A bust of Sir Winston Churchill has been returned to the most important room in the world — the White House’s Oval Office.

In a nod to the “special relationship”, US president Donald Trump appeared to make good on an agreement to return the wartime leader’s likeness to the famous office within hours of being sworn in.

The former prime minister’s renewed presence was noticed as Mr Trump signed his first orders as the 45th president of the United States.

The sculpture of Churchill’s face is said to be a replica of one given to 1960s leader Lyndon B Johnson and first appeared in the Oval Office during former George W Bush’s administration.

However it was replaced by a bust of civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Reports of Churchill’s removal prompted protests from British figures including Boris Johnson, who in turn was criticised when he blamed the swap on Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British empire”.

He explained at the time: “When I was elected as president of the United States, my predecessor had kept a Churchill bust in the oval office.

“There are only so many tables where you can put busts otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered.

“And I thought it was appropriate and I suspect that most people here in the United Kingdom might agree, that as the first African-American president, it might be appropriate to have a bust of Dr Martin Luther King in my office to remind me of all the hard work of a lot of people who would somehow allow me to have the privilege of holding this office.”

After meeting Mr Trump in November, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he was “especially pleased at his very positive reaction to the idea that Sir Winston Churchill’s bust should be put back in the Oval Office”.

An early report by a White House pool reporter that the bust of Dr King no longer remained in the room on Friday was later discredited.

PA