UK Prime Minister’s Office apologizes to Queen for staff parties the day before her husband’s funeral
Boris Johnson’s office on Friday apologized to the Royal Family for hosting staff parties in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last year – the latest in a series of gatherings allegedly breaking the lockdown who threaten to overthrow the British Prime Minister.
Farewell parties for Johnson’s outgoing spin doctor and another staff member, complete with late-night drinking and dancing, were held on April 16, 2021, the night before Queen Elizabeth left. sits alone at her husband’s funeral due to social distancing rules in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Johnson spokesman Jamie Davies admitted the news of the rallies had sparked “significant public anger.”
“It is deeply regrettable that this has come at a time of national mourning and Number 10 has apologized to the palace,” he said, using a term for the Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing Street.
Johnson’s former communications director James Slack – who is now deputy editor of the tabloid The Sun – apologized “unreservedly” for the “anger and hurt” caused by his farewell party.
Office says PM was not present
Johnson’s office said the prime minister was not in Downing Street, where he both lives and works, on April 16 and was unaware that rallies were planned.
But each new revelation about social events in the prime minister’s office during the pandemic has weakened his grip on power and reinforced calls for his resignation.
Earlier this week, Johnson apologized for going to a garden party in Downing Street in May 2020, when the UK was under a strict lockdown and the law barred people from meeting more than a person outside their home. Millions of people have been cut off from family and friends and have even been prevented from visiting dying relatives in hospitals.
Most indoor social gatherings were also banned in April 2021 and funerals were limited to 30 people.
The symbolism of the timing of recent events which has dismayed many people in Britain.
The Daily Telegraph, which broke the news, said Downing Street staff drank, danced and socialized late at night, and at one point an employee was sent with a suitcase to a nearby supermarket to buy more alcohol.
The next day, the Widowed Queen sat alone in a church in Windsor Castle to say goodbye to her 73-year-old husband.
Photos of the monarch, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, have become a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice endured by many during the pandemic.
Many Tories fear the partygate scandal could turn out to be a turning point for a leader who has weathered a series of other storms over his spending and moral judgment.
A scandal that began with a report of an office Christmas party in December 2020 has blossomed into a dozen alleged social events at 10 Downing Street and other government buildings. Former COVID-19 government task force chief Kate Josephs admitted on Friday that she hosted an aperitif in her office in December 2020.
“I am so sorry I did this and for the anger people will feel as a result,” said Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council.