Theresa May repeatedly broke down in tears and struck a “crisis of confidence” after losing her majority in parliament this year.
The newly re-elected Prime Minister also infuriated Bucking Palace by misleading them and making the Queen wait around for the Queen’s speech.
Mrs. May’s team led the palace to believe a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and been agreed, but it took another 17 days finalise. She also breached protocol in the way she announced her intention to form a government.
Mrs. May’s wellbeing reportedly deteriorated even further after the Grenfell Town fire tragedy, when she was heavily criticized for not meeting families.
She did not look healthy, was offered help from SAS special forces to teach her “resilience”, and it was not known if her leadership would survive by those close to her.
There were tensions with Buckingham Palace, where the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Christopher Geidt, could not get clear answers from Mrs. May’s team about the DUP deal and rumours she was on the verge of resigning.
Mrs. May had to have her make-up reapplied before she visited the Queen as she had been crying. Aides grew concerned that she might not be able to go on. “She looked tired and I don’t think she was thinking straight,” one said.
By the Friday of the week after the election, a senior political appointee decided help was needed, saying: “She was absolutely beaten, grey-skinned. I’ve seen people with shell shock and she looked worse than that.”
The official suggested to Gavin Barwell, May’s new chief of staff, that he get a member of the SAS to speak to May about “resilience”.
The aide said: “I can get you former special forces commanders . . . people who have been in crunching encounters. They will realise it is in the national interest to keep her on track and keep her going.” The offer was not taken up.
According to a Tory who has discussed the events with a senior member of the royal household: “There was a high degree of uncertainty about whether Theresa May would survive.”
May had been to see the Queen the day after the election, an encounter the monarch appears not to have relished. “In the private audiences between the Queen and Mrs. May, I don’t think the Queen finds Mrs. May any easier company than anyone else,” the source said.