Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom apologized to Buckingham Palace on Friday for raunchy parties held in Downing Street the night before Queen Elizabeth II buried her husband, Prince Philip, in a socially distant ceremony that left her grieving alone in a choir stall, capping a week of abject contrition.
Mr. Johnson was not present at either of these events, despite having apologized in Parliament on Wednesday for attending a garden party during a lockdown in 2020. On the night of a solemn funeral ceremony known for its heartbreaking image of a solitary, masked monarch, reports of additional alcohol-fueled socializing at Downing Street handed a fresh blow to an already reeling prime minister.
As criticism over the parties grew, a spokeswoman for Downing Street stated, «It’s profoundly sad that this took happened at a time of national sorrow,» and «No. 10 has apologized to the palace for that.»
Buckingham Palace, which is in the midst of its own crisis, has declined to comment on the apology. After a court in New York ruled that a sex abuse lawsuit against him may proceed, the queen stripped her second son, Prince Andrew, of his military titles and royal charities on Thursday.
Mr. Johnson is scheduled to meet with the queen on a weekly basis, but a Downing Street spokesperson declined to say whether he intends to apologize to her personally the next time he sees her. His remorseful display of contrition for the party in May 2020 has failed to quell the storm raging around him, with opposition leaders and even a few Conservative Party legislators calling for him to resign.
In a tweet, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer remarked, «This shows just how gravely Boris Johnson has devalued the office of Prime Minister.» «The prime minister should offer the palace more than just an apology today.» Boris Johnson should quit and do the right thing.»
The two parties’ bacchanalian details on April 16, first published in the Daily Telegraph, are vivid. A staff member was rushed to a neighbouring shop to fill a suitcase with bottles of wine for one of them, according to the newspaper. The party went on into the early hours of the morning, with an attendant serving as a disc jockey, and the revellers even damaging a garden swing used by Mr. Johnson’s infant son, Wilfred. Officials claimed Mr. Johnson was gone at the time at the Prime Minister’s country house, Chequers.
A farewell party for James Slack, a Downing Street press spokesman who resigned to become deputy editor of The Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids, was one of the festivities. The party was covered by the Sun once it was discovered by its competitors.
Mr. Slack issued an open apology on Friday, saying, «I wish to apologize completely for the anger and hurt caused.» «This occurrence should not have occurred at the time it did. I apologize profusely and accept full responsibility.»
Mr. Johnson, reeling from the latest revelations, has requested MPs to wait for the results of a top civil servant’s internal probe of the parties, Sue Gray. That won’t happen until next week at the earliest, with speculation mounting that Ms Gray will focus on the prime minister’s office’s drinking culture.