UK Prime Minister’s Office apologizes to Queen for staff parties held the night before husband’s funeral

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Boris Johnson’s office apologized to the royal family on Friday for holding staff parties in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last year, the latest in a series of alleged lockdown-breaking gatherings that threaten to overthrow the British prime minister.

On April 16, 2021, the night before Queen Elizabeth sat alone at her husband’s funeral due to the social distancing rules in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, acknowledged that news of the meetings had caused “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-in-chief of The Sun tabloid, apologized “unreservedly” for the “anger and hurt” caused by his wrap party.

The office says that the PM was not present

Johnson’s office said the prime minister was not in Downing Street, where he lives and works, on April 16 and was unaware meetings were planned.

But each new revelation about social events inside the prime minister’s office during the pandemic has weakened his grip on power and strengthened calls for his resignation.

Police officers walk past Parliament in London on Friday. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press)

Earlier this week, Johnson apologized for going to a Downing Street garden party in May 2020, when the UK was under strict lockdown and people were prohibited by law from meeting more than one person outside their homes. Millions were isolated from family and friends, and even barred 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 that has horrified many in Britain.

The Daily Telegraph, which broke the news, said Downing Street staff were drinking, dancing and socializing late into the night, at one point sending an employee with a suitcase to a nearby supermarket to buy more alcohol.

The following day, the Dowager Queen sat alone in a church at Windsor Castle to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years.

Photos of the monarch, dressed in black and wearing a face mask, became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice that many have endured during the pandemic.

Many Conservatives fear the partygate scandal could become a turning point for a leader who has weathered a number of other storms. about your expensesand his moral judgment.

A scandal that began with a report of an office Christmas party in December 2020 has escalated into a dozen alleged social events at 10 Downing Street and other government buildings. On Friday, the former head of the government’s COVID-19 task force, Kate Josephs, admitted holding a drinks meeting at her office in December 2020.

“I’m really sorry I did this and the anger that people will feel as a result,” said Josephs, who is now chief executive of Sheffield City Council.

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