In the months up until Britain’s vote on European Union membership, much was made of leaked details of a lunch with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with the Sun newspaper declaring loudly that the monarch supported the idea of Britain leaving the EU.
The rumours sparked controversy as Remain campaigners questioned the source of the story, while fingers were pointed at Cabinet ministers who may have leaked the information to attempt to bolster support for the Leave campaign.
At the time, Buckingham Palace press officers denied the story, as is usual for a situation where a reigning monarch is dragged into a political debate.
But now a BBC journalist has confirmed the Sun’s story, claiming that she also had heard the news, though could not report it as she only had a single source for the claim.
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) March 8, 2016
Laura Kuenssberg appeared on the BBC’s Today programme to describe the events of nine months ago which even led to the press regulator in Britain upholding a complaint by the Palace.
“In a casual chat with one of my contacts, they said, ‘Do you know what? At some point this is going to come out, and I’m telling you now and I don’t know if the BBC would touch it, but the Queen told people at a private lunch that she thinks that we should leave the EU,’” she said.
“Apparently at this lunch she said: ‘I don’t see why we can’t just get out. What’s the problem?’
“My jaw hit the floor. Very sadly, I only had one source. I spent the next few days trying to prove it. I couldn’t find the evidence. Lo and behold, a couple of months later, someone else did. Of course then ensued a huge row between that newspaper and the palace over what had really been said or not said.
“There were lots of moments in the referendum campaign, but for me that was one when my jaw did hit the floor. Very frustratingly, the story did eventually emerge, whether it was true or not.”
The issue caused a blazing row between Leave and Remain campaigners, specifically the former Justice Secretary Michael Gove and former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, with the latter pointing the finger at the former for the supposed leak.
The British Monarch is also believed to be disappointed in the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, for failing to share her Brexit plan with the Palace. Mrs. May is thought to have stuck to her “Brexit Means Brexit” platitude, raising further concerns over Britain’s timeline for exiting the European Union, as well as what form a “leave” process will take.
The former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King today said the country should not seek to stay in the Single Market — the EU’s trading bloc.
Lord King told the BBC: “I don’t think it makes sense for us to pretend we should remain in the Single Market and I think there are real question marks about whether it makes sense to remain in the customs union.
“Clearly if we do that we cannot make our own trade deals with other countries.”