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

The night before Prince Philip’s funeral last April, as the nation was in official mourning and Queen Elizabeth prepared to lay her husband of nearly 74 years to rest, alcohol-fueled rallies took place in the UK government offices at 10 Downing Street, as first reported by The Telegraph newspaper.

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

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

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

The apology followed the Telegraph report on Thursday, which said two gatherings of up to 30 people took place in Downing Street on April 16, 2021.

Accompanied by the headline ‘A booze run to fill a suitcase with wine’, the Telegraph reported that staff at the parties brought in booze bought from a nearby store in a suitcase, played music, danced and broke d somehow a swing used by the Prime. The grandson of minister Boris Johnson.

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

A day after the rally, 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, abiding by strict social distancing rules, and a photograph of the lone monarch has garnered huge public sympathy, both at home and abroad. foreigner.

Covid-19 restrictions at the time, which imposed 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 did not attend the April 16 party, the Telegraph reported, but news of another social gathering held under his watch as the rest of the country lived under a strict lockdown is adding pressure on the already leading leader. besieged.

A Downing Street spokesperson responded to CNN’s request for comment on the Telegraph reporting on Thursday, saying: ‘On this individual’s last day, he gave a farewell speech thanking each team for the work they have done. they had done to support it, both those who needed to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home.” The spokesperson confirmed they were referring to James Slack.

Boris Johnson apologizes for attending Downing Street

Asked by CNN for further comment on Friday morning, a Downing Street spokesperson said the above statement was the only one that would be released by the office.

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

When these questions began, Johnson initially brushed them off, saying no parties had taken place and that his employees and assistants followed the rules at all times. Since then, a flood of allegations and leaks have shed new light on several gatherings.

The news sparked public fury, sank Johnson’s Conservative party in opinion polls and led to scrutiny of his position.
On Wednesday, Johnson apologized for attending an event in the back garden of 10 Downing Street on May 20, 2020, but said he believed the rally was a work event – a claim the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer called it “ridiculous” and “offensive”.

An investigation into the gatherings led by senior official Sue Gray is ongoing.

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

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