UK government apologizes to Queen for ‘suitcase of wine’ parties on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

On the night before Prince Philip’s funeral last April, as the nation went into official mourning and Queen Elizabeth prepared to rest her husband, who had passed away for nearly 74 years, alcohol-based gatherings took place in Britain. government offices at 10 Downing Street, as first reported by De Telegraaf newspaper.

The government has now apologized to Buckingham Palace for the events. “It is deeply regrettable that this happened at a time of national mourning and No. 10 has apologized to the palace,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy official spokesman told reporters on Friday.

One of the events was held to mark the departure of communications director James Slack, who is now the deputy editor of the country’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun.

Slack also apologized “for the anger and pain caused” by the event, which he said “shouldn’t have happened the moment it happened,” in a statement reported by PA Media on Friday.

The apologies followed Thursday’s report from The Telegraph, which said two meetings of up to 30 people were being held in Downing Street on 16 April 2021.

Accompanied by the headline “A booze run to fill a suitcase with wine,” The Telegraph reported that staff at the parties brought in alcohol bought in a suitcase at a nearby store, played music, danced and somehow broke a swing used by the Prime. The toddler son of Secretary Boris Johnson.

The Telegraph is often seen as a cheerleader for Johnson, who was once a correspondent in Brussels and regularly wrote a paid column for the publication, even after reaching the highest level in politics.

A day after the meeting, Philip’s funeral provided one of the most powerful images of the pandemic. The Queen sat alone in the chapel at Windsor Castle during the service, observing strict social distancing rules, and a photo of the lone monarch sparked much sympathy both at home and abroad.

Queen Elizabeth at Prince Philip's funeral in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021.

The Covid-19 restrictions at the time, requiring a maximum of 30 guests at a funeral, also meant that some of Philip’s closest friends were unable to attend.

In April 2021, people in England were banned from socializing indoors with people outside their household or, if living alone, with members of more than one other household. Outdoor gatherings were limited to groups of six people or two households.

Johnson was not present at the April 16 party, the Telegraph reported, but news of yet another social gathering held under his supervision while the rest of the country was under strict lockdown is increasing pressure on the already-flabbergasted leader .

A Downing Street spokesperson responded to CNN’s request for comment on The Telegraph’s coverage on Thursday by saying: “On this individual’s last day, he gave a farewell address to thank each team for the work they’d done to help him. support, both those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those who work at home.” The spokesperson confirmed that they were referring to James Slack.

Boris Johnson apologizes for attending Downing Street "bring your own drink"  party during lockdown

When CNN was asked for further comments Friday morning, a Downing Street spokesperson said the above statement is the only one to be released by the office.

The latest revelations only deepen the political hole Johnson found himself in during the social events held in and around Downing Street in the spring of 2020 and the run-up to Christmas that year, when national restrictions banned such gatherings.

When those questions started, Johnson initially dismissed them, saying that no parties had taken place and that his staff and aides had followed the rules at all times. Since then, a flurry of allegations and leaks have shed new light on several rallies.

The news has sparked public anger, sunk Johnson’s Conservative Party in opinion polls and sparked criticism of his stance.
On Wednesday, Johnson apologized for attending an event in the backyard of 10 Downing Street on May 20, 2020, but said he believed the meeting was a work event – a claim that opposition leader Keir Starmer said was “ridiculous”. and “offensive”.

The meetings are under investigation led by senior official Sue Gray.

CNN’s Luke McGee, Rob Picheta and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.

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