Queen Elizabeth denies supporting Brexit

The Queen may not comment on political issues, but she is under close and constant scrutiny for signs or giveaways on her in-out preferences.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:19 am IST

Published - March 09, 2016 08:25 pm IST - London

With the Brexit issue creating new and unexpected fault lines in British politics, it is not surprising that the uniquely positioned institution that is the British monarchy, which is supposed to be above politics, should be drawn into the debate.

The Queen may not comment on political issues, but she is under close and constant scrutiny for signs or giveaways on her in-out preferences. Both sides would like her on their team.

A political storm has broken out after The Sun tabloid carried an exclusive with a photograph of the Queen and the screaming headlines “Queen backs Brexit” on its cover. Buckingham Palace issued a formal statement denying the report that quoted “anonymous sources”, one of whom claimed to have witnessed the Queen telling the pro-EU Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011 that the “EU was heading in the wrong direction.” The comments were made allegedly during a lunch with Mr. Clegg at Windsor Castle, the newspaper report states. The newspaper’s source adds that the Queen’s “reprimand” of Mr. Clegg “went on for some time and stunned other guests” leaving “no room for doubt about her passionate feelings over Europe’.

Calling the claims “spurious” Buckingham Palace insisted that the Queen is “politically neutral,” on the Brexit issue. It has also registered a complaint with the press regulatory body. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said, "We can confirm that we have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation to register a complaint about the front page story in today's Sun newspaper.” The complaint has been made under Clause 1 of the Editors' Code of Practice, which relates to the publishing of inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.

Mr. Clegg too has denied the story. In a radio interview today he called the story “nonsense” and said he had no recollection of such a conversation.

It is not the first time that the “politically neutral” monarch has been drawn into such controversies. During the Scottish Referendum in 2014, her comment "I hope people will think very carefully about the future," was read as backing the demand that Scotland remain in the UK.

The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn, the Sun's political editor, stands by his story, which he claims came from “two different and impeccably placed sources".

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