Europe

Queen was ‘not impressed’ with Boris Johnson before PM’s ‘apology’ over Brexit decision

Johnson looks down during question about apology to Queen

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Today, Mr Johnson opened Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons by hailing Her Majesty’s “historic reign” ahead of her Platinum Jubilee. Queen Elizabeth II will mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne this Sunday. Mr Johnson’s tribute to the monarch’s longevity contrasts to his apology to Her Majesty last month over the ongoing ‘partygate’ scandal.

The Prime Minister apologised after newspapers reported two parties were held in Number 10 Downing Street the night before Prince Philip’s funeral on April 17 last year.

Downing Street issued its own apology over the gatherings, which took place as the country mourned the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, and at a time when England’s Covid restrictions banned the indoor mixing of households.

The Queen famously sat alone for Philip’s funeral due to Covid restrictions, a heartbreaking send-off after 73 years of marriage.

Mr Johnson also personally apologised, saying he “deeply and bitterly” regretted the events and took “full responsibility”.

The Conservative leader had already apologised to the country the previous week over another event held in breach of England’s Covid rules.

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On that occasion, Mr Johnson admitted attending a drinks party in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 – one of several events that has sparked calls for his resignation.

Although Mr Johnson’s apology to the Queen may appear unprecedented, the Prime Minister has said sorry to Her Majesty before, according to unearthed accounts.

At the height of the Government’s efforts to get its Brexit deal through the House of Commons in August 2019, Mr Johnson ordered Parliament to be prorogued for five weeks.

The Prime Minister was granted the Queen’s approval for the move, which is used to end the parliamentary session.

The Government argued the prorogation was necessary to bring forward its legislative agenda.

However, the Supreme Court ruled that the five-week suspension of parliamentary activities was unlawful.

The Sunday Times then reported that Mr Johnson had apologised to the Queen for embarrassing her over the prorogation.

Mr Johnson was accused of misleading the Queen, although he insisted that was “absolutely not true”.

A Downing Street source told the paper: “He got on to the Queen as quickly as possible to say how sorry he was.”

Mr Johnson refused to reveal at the time if he had apologised to Her Majesty as he was grilled by the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

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He said: “I am, alas, forbidden from commenting on my conversations with Her Majesty.

“I’m not going to go into my conversations with Her Majesty.”

The Sunday Times also reported that the Supreme Court ruling had damaged the relationship between Buckingham Palace and Mr Johnson’s office.

A Government source said: “They are not impressed by what is going on — at the very highest levels of the family.”

A royal insider was also quoted as saying the Queen’s aides were “fed up” with the situation.

Mr Johnson’s reputation in the Palace was said to have sunk as low as that of former Prime Minister David Cameron.

The royal source said: “It’s difficult to tell which of them they are crosser with, Cameron or Boris.”

The former Tory leader revealed details of his conversations with the monarch in his 2019 memoir, ‘For The Record’.

He claimed he had asked the Queen if she could “raise an eyebrow” in a bid to demonstrate the consequences of Scottish independence ahead of the 2014 referendum on the issue.

Historically, there has been an understanding between the Queen and prime ministers that what they discuss will remain private.

Mr Cameron previously drew backlash after he was captured on a TV camera appearing to reveal the Queen’s reaction to Scotland voting against independence at the referendum.

He was heard saying: “She purred down the line. I’ve never heard someone so happy.”

The British monarch must remain politically neutral, so Mr Cameron’s claims undermined that central premise.

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