1941: The Declaration of St. James' Palace

The sentences from the Declaration of St. James' Palace still serve as the watchwords of peace: “The only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security; It is our intention to work together, and with other free peoples, both in war and peace, to this end.”

Thomas H. Shepherd/photograph of a watercolour painting
The Saint James Palace in London.

In June 1941, London was the home of nine exiled governments. The great British capital had already seen 22 months of war and in the bomb-marked city, air-raid sirens wailed all too frequently.

Practically all Europe had fallen to the Axis and ships on the Atlantic, carrying vital supplies, sank with grim regularity. But in London itself and among the Allied governments and peoples, faith in ultimate victory remained unshaken.

And, even more, people were looking beyond military victory to the postwar future.

“Would we win only to live in dread of yet another war? Should we not define some purpose more creative than military victory? Is it not possible to shape a better life for all countries and peoples and cut the causes of war at their roots?”

Such were the anxious questions which troubled many minds, not only in Britain, but in all Allied countries.

12 June 1941  ||  An Inter-Allied Declaration

On the twelfth of that month the representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa and of the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and of General de Gaulle of France, met at the ancient St. James’ Palace and signed a declaration.

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