Concerns arose over the weekend that the Government may try to manipulate the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations to help the Remain campaign in the referendum on European Union (EU) membership.
With accusations that such tactics might demean the Prime Minister’s office, one worry reported by The Express is that the Queen could come under pressure from officials looking to use a speech given by her to send a signal of support for staying in the EU. A senior source commented:
“There is concern that she could be asked to drop a hint. The Palace is determined to protect the Queen this year.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman described the concern as “unsubstantiated speculation” that is “categorically not true”, but in Scotland there is still anger about the Queen’s intervention in the 2014 independence referendum. A few days before that vote she urged Scots to “think very carefully about the future” in what was seen by many as a deliberately orchestrated move.
Labour MP Paul Flynn used a hearing of the Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee last week to accuse the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, of “collaborating and politicising the Royal family” with regards to Scottish independence. Sir Jeremy insisted he would “never dream of trying to politicise Her Majesty the Queen.”
Nevertheless suspicions about official tactics remain following a recent speech given to diplomats by Prince William. Comments drafted by officials describing Britain’s international partnerships as the “bedrock of our security and prosperity” were said by some to signal royal support for the EU, although others thought it looked further afield.
Bernard Jenkin — a senior Tory Eurosceptic and chairman of the Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee — said the Government “has questions to answer about Prince William’s speech,” adding,”what he said was fine but the way Number 10 sought to spin his remarks was despicable.”
UKIP Deputy Chairman and Member of the European Parliament William Dartmouth said: “For the Government to attempt to get the Royal Family involved in politics is wrong. This especially applies on something as controversial as our membership of the EU.
“The Prime Minster demeans his office.”