After 70 years on the throne, each side of the connection between the monarch and her prime ministers should absolutely have change into deeply, even typically wearyingly, acquainted to Elizabeth II. Fourteen very totally different women and men have held the nation’s highest political workplace since 1952 – 10 Conservatives and 4 Labour. Ideologically, they cowl a large spectrum of views.

But they’ve all been united by one factor: the extraordinary care they’ve taken by no means to embarrass the Queen within the slightest means.

Till Boris Johnson.

The considered having to make a public apology to the monarch like the one that Johnson made on Friday would seemingly have despatched shivers of disgrace down the spines of each certainly one of his Downing Road predecessors.

From Winston Churchill to Theresa Could, it will be laborious to think about a extra humbling and cringeworthy second than having to apologise for his or her workers partying on the eve of the monarch’s husband’s funeral within the midst of a plague.

However Johnson is a precedent buster in addition to a rule breaker.

He’s mentioned to have additionally apologised to the Queen in 2019 when the unlawful prorogation of parliament was overturned by the supreme court docket.

However there has by no means been a extra humiliating prime ministerial grovel than the one he made this week.

That’s not to say that each one earlier prime ministers have behaved with equal tact and deference in each side of the connection with the palace. Through the quick reign of the Queen’s uncle, Edward VIII, in 1936 there was a full-on political battle between the federal government and the king over whether or not he would marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee.

The then prime minister Stanley Baldwin instructed the king to his face that the federal government would resign if he didn’t abdicate.

When the king requested for time to seek the advice of his pals, Baldwin replied tartly: “Who’re they?” Edward gave in.

Throughout her personal reign, the Queen has typically had durations of brittle relations with sure prime ministers. Edward Heath’s and Margaret Thatcher’s hostility to the prospect of Commonwealth sanctions towards South Africa induced tensions with a monarch whose devotion to the grouping is second to none.

But in line with Thatcher’s biographer Charles Moore, each she and the Queen remained very delicate to the opposite’s function and views, despite the lurking disagreement.

Tony Blair offended some traditionalist courtiers when he pressed the Queen to reply with extra public sensitivity to the shows of misery after the loss of life of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.

Palace traditionalists tried to get their very own again on Blair by claiming he was getting above himself in the course of the Queen Mom’s mendacity in state in 2002. However there has by no means been any suggestion that the Queen herself took this view. Blair’s memoirs, like these of different prime ministers, are respectful and deferential in the direction of her.

Way back, the Victorian constitutional professional Walter Bagehot mentioned the British monarch had three rights when assembly a main minister: to be consulted, to encourage and to warn.

Johnson has added one other one to the checklist: the precise to an apology.


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