The niece of Sir Winston Churchill and widow of Anthony Eden was killed in a car accident at 101.

Clarissa Eden (Countess) of Avon died on Monday. This was more than 40 years after her husband’s death.

Anne Clarissa Churchill was born June 28th 1920. She was known by her maiden name Clarissa. 

Her grandfather, Lord Randolph Churchill, was the chancellor at the exchequer during the 1880s.

Later in life she dismissed prominent politicians as “frightful bores” and maintained her enthusiasm for life alongside many famous friends, including Greta Garbo, director Orson Welles, whom she had met when she lived in London following the death of her husband.

Her 100th Birthday was celebrated in lockdown with four close friends. She was denied large-scale celebrations by the pandemic.

Following Mary Wilson’s demise, she had outlived five other Prime Ministers. 

She married Anthony Eden in 1952. He was Churchill’s ex-foreign secretary and later became Prime Minister, serving from 1955 to 1957.

Her death was described as the “end of an era”. 

Clarissa Eden, Sir Winston Churchill's niece and the widow of former Prime Minister Anthony Eden has died at the age of 101

Clarissa Eden was the niece of Sir Winston Churchill, and also the widow of the former Prime Minister Anthony Eden. She has now died at 101.

Anthony Eden and Clarissa Churchill, Countess of Avon, on their wedding day at the Caxton Hall registry office Westminster. Pictured from left to right: Mrs Churchill, Anthony Eden, Clarissa Eden, Winston Churchill

Clarissa Churchill and Anthony Eden, Countess Of Avon on their wedding day in Westminster’s Caxton Hall registry office Westminster. Photographed left to right: Clarissa Eden (Mrs Churchill), Anthony Eden (Mrs Churchill), Winston Churchill

The ex-Prime Minister was not popular during his tenure as Britain’s leader, and was eventually defeated by his handling the Suez Crisis. 

Lady Avon once said, “I felt like the Suez Canal was coursing through my drawing room” during 1956’s Suez Crisis. She was at Downing Street with her husband. 

In 1957, Mr Eden was elected to the office. He died in January 1977. This is 44 years earlier than his wife. He was 79 years old.

Lady Avon wrote in her 2007 memoir From Churchill To Eden that she felt ‘pleasure to quit politics’ following the death of her husband. 

Clarissa spent most of her childhood in London, where she went to boarding school. She left the school without being qualified because she felt ‘bored.’

She had two elder brothers: Johnnie, an artist with whom she was not close; and Peregrine, who she was much closer with. Johnnie died in 1992 and Peregrine in 2002. 

After high school she attended the Slade, and she went to Oxford to study philosophy.

After spending much of World War II at Chequers, she went to Russia with her uncle and worked for an English-language propaganda paper.

Later she was offered a position in the Foreign Office’s basement, decoding the messages.

After the war, she worked for Vogue, and then alongside film director, Alexander Korda, before taking up a role editing the magazine Contact.

Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957 with his wife Anne Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon

Robert Anthony Eden (1st Earl) of Avon was Prime Minister between 1955 and 1957 along with Anne Clarissa Eden (Countess).

Clarissa was 16 when Anthony Eden met her, a Conservative politician. He stayed with Lord Cranborne when Clarissa was 16.

It was during a dinner in 1946, while sat next to Clarissa, that Mr Eden asked her out to dinner having been left by his first wife Beatrice Beckett the previous year. The couple divorced in 1950.

Clarissa was in her third term of Foreign Secretary. Mr Eden made the proposal to Clarissa. Six months later, Clarissa accepted his proposal.

News of the engagement was met with surprise, not least by Clarissa’s aunt Clementine Churchill who felt she was too independent to make a suitable wife for a politician. 

The pair married on August 14, 1952, with the ceremony held at the Caxton Hall registry office, in Westminster, and the reception at 10 Downing Street.

Political visits to Washington and Paris were a major factor in the start of married life. 

Mr Eden with wife Clarissa, Lady Eden, at their Wiltshire home after he accepted the peerage as Earl of Avon in 1961

Following his acceptance of the peerage in 1961 as Earl and Lady of Avon, Mr Eden was joined by Clarissa, Lady Eden to their Wiltshire home.

Queen Elizabeth II (left) and Prince Philip (right), Duke of Edinburgh, pose with Lord and Lady Avon during a visit to Bridgetown, Barbados on their Caribbean Tour, on February 17, 1966

King Philip (right), Duke and Queen Elizabeth II, are seen with Lord Avon and Lady Avon, as they visit Bridgetown in Barbados during the Caribbean Tour. This was on February 17, 1966.

A year into their marriage, Mr Eden suffered a botched gall bladder operation and then, in 1954, Clarissa had a miscarriage, resulting in the couple not being able to have any children together.

A year later in 1955, after Winston Churchill threatened to step down, Mr Eden assumed the role of Prime Minister.

After taking over, he went to the polls and became the first incumbent to increase its majority for a century, upping the government’s majority from 17 to 60.

However, Mr Eden’s premiership was ended soon after his botched handling of the Suez crisis. Clarissa, who made the comment in her political speech at Gateshead November 20, 1956 about the “drawing room”, later acknowledged that it was an unfortunate statement.

The nervous system of Mr Eden began to weaken in November 1956. He went to Sandringham soon afterwards to notify the Queen about his resignation as Prime Minister.

Former Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, with wife Clarissa. Mr Eden died in January 1977 at the age of 79

Clarissa Eden and Sir Anthony Eden were the former Prime Minister. At the age of 79, Mr Eden passed away in January 1977.

The couple left office and moved to Wiltshire. Mr Eden accepted the peerage of Earl of Avon in 1961.

Lord Avon fell ill in the United States but then-Prime Minister James Callaghan arranged for him to be flown home by the RAF to die at home in January 1977.

Lady Avon spent a while in Wiltshire before she moved to London permanently.

In 1986, her husband requested a biography about Mr Eden. However, dissatisfied with the result, she demanded a revised volume be published in 2003.

For the Channel 4 television program Married to the Premier Minister, she was with Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Blair.

Then in 2007, she collaborated with Cate Haste and published her memoirs, From Churchill to Eden, despite never intending to do so.

According to her memoirs, her social life was improved upon moving to London. This included friendships with Orson Wees, Peter Brook and Lucian Freud.

Aware of the fact that her memory was losing its value in her later years Lady Avon called distinguished politicians ‘frightful bores’ but maintained sharp communication skills.

Clarissa Eden photographed alongside Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair outside Number 10 Downing Street for the television programme Married to the Prime Minister

Clarissa Eden was photographed with Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Blair at Number 10 Downing Street during the television program Married to The Prime Minister

It was in 2018, during an interview with Spear’s, the wealth management and luxury lifestyle magazine, Lady Avon infamously said her uncle – an enthusiastic painter – had no sense of beauty.

She said also that British wartime leader, Winston Churchill, was “a failure” for much of his political career.

After taking up the hobby in the 1920s, Churchill created around 544 paintings. It became an important part of his daily life.

Over a 50 year period, he produced a prolific catalogue of work, with one of his pieces selling for £1.8million in December 2014.

Lady Avon, 97 years old, said that her uncle was not a gifted artist. They were very nice and he did some painting. He wasn’t an artist.

Winston Churchill (second from right) and his wife Lady Churchill (left), Baroness Spencer-Churchill of Chartwell at Broadchalke, Wiltshire, the home of Sir Anthony Eden (right) and his wife Clarissa (second from left)

Winston Churchill, second from right, and Lady Churchill, his wife, Baroness SpencerChurchill at Chartwell, Wiltshire. This is the home of Sir Anthony Eden and Clarissa, second from left.

She added: ‘I always knew him as a great man who hadn’t been appreciated. He was an incompetent man for most of my adult life. He didn’t have a job or was unemployed. And he wasn’t right about anything.

“He was exiled, so to say. Going to Chartwell before the war was going to a place in exile – a place where people were not doing anything. It was all quite frustrating and disappointing.

Also, she was critical of Churchill’s character as a man. She suggested that he might be too self-centered and ignore the people around him. 

She described her visit to Chartwell in which Churchill lived with Clementine between 1922 and January 1965. The one who went was there with him. He would have lunch, or whatever the case was. One would listen and talk to him; that’s the key part.

“But, he didn’t care about what anyone else said.” Although he might listen to someone who was famous at lunch, he did not pay much attention to anyone.

Conor Burns (Conservative MP for Bournemouth West), said that Lady Avon’s passing marked the end to an era. An extended and fulfilling life.

‘It used to make me smile when my friend and predecessor Lord Eden of Winton would casually mention – when in his early 90s – that he was going to visit ‘Aunt Clarissa’ – then in her very late 90s.’