Ursula von der Leyen’s meeting with King Charles was ‘at her request’

King Charles’ role in NI deal discussed by Nigel Farage

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally requested a meeting with King Charles as she travelled to London to finalise the Brexit deal on Northern Ireland with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The King’s “constitutionally unwise” meeting with Ursula von der Leyen has angered unionists as the Prime Minister sought their support over the new post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

An insider has told the Sun that von der Leyen was the one to request the meeting. It comes as leading Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said it was wrong to involve Charles in the “immediate political controversy” on the day the Prime Minister signed a new agreement with her.

Baroness Arlene Foster, the former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and first minister of Northern Ireland, said the meeting in Windsor Castle was “crass and will go down very badly”.

Buckingham Palace said Charles was acting on “the Government’s advice”. Downing Street said it was “fundamentally” a decision for the King.

When asked who called for the meeting between von der Leyen and Charles, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News this morning: “Well, obviously we arranged for Von der Leyen to come to the UK to conduct the final part of the negotiations.

“We, of course, informed the palace and ultimately with the visiting of any senior politician – whether it be, whether it be President Zelensky or President von der Leyen.

But ultimately decisions about the King’s diary are rightly for the for the Palace.”

The King welcomed the EU chief to Windsor Castle at the end of her busy day following a joint press conference with Mr Sunak to outline the new deal dubbed the “Windsor Agreement”.

The briefing for the major political development, which in some ways aims to heal tensions between the UK and EU, was staged at Windsor Guildhall where the King and the Queen Consort married in 2005, a ceremony that set the seal on their long relationship.

Charles was pictured warmly shaking hands with the EU chief in a drawing room of the royal residence where they were served tea during their discussions said to be very productive.

Topics covered included climate change and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but it is not known if Northern Ireland was on the agenda.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The King is pleased to meet any world leader if they are visiting Britain and it is the Government’s advice that he should do so.”

But ahead of the King’s audience with von der Leyen, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former Cabinet minister, said: “It is surprising that The King will meet Ursula von der Leyen today as it antagonises the people the Prime Minister needs to conciliate.

“It is also constitutionally unwise to involve the King in a matter of immediate political controversy.”

Baroness Foster added: “I cannot quite believe that No 10 would ask HM the King to become involved in the finalising of a deal as controversial as this one. It’s crass and will go down very badly in NI.

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“We must remember this is not the King’s decision but the Government who it appears are tone deaf.”

There had been warnings the meeting could draw the King, who as head of state must remain politically neutral, into the process of the UK and EU agreeing a deal or be seen as tacitly endorsing it.

Before the King and EU chief met, Downing Street defended the move to advise the King to meet Ms von der Leyen, saying Mr Sunak “fundamentally” believed the final decision was for Charles.

“He firmly believes it’s for the King to make those decisions,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

He compared the von der Leyen meeting to Charles talking to Poland’s Andrzej Duda or Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Asked why the final protocol talks were taking place in Windsor, he said: “There are a number of occasions when these sorts of talks have been held in significant locations, this is no different.”

European Commission deputy chief spokeswoman Dana Spinant insisted the meeting was “not part of the process” to secure a deal.

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