Once a week, the Queen meets with her Prime Minister for a short, private meeting. And today, Boris Johnson is due to talk to Her Majesty for the first time since having to apologise to her after it emerged parties were held in Downing Street the night before Prince Philip’s funeral
Since taking the throne almost 70 years ago, the Queen has held weekly meetings with her Prime Minister to discuss the issues of the day.
The audiences usually take place at Buckingham Palace on a Wednesday with only the two of them in the room, meaning what is said is entirely private.
And today’s possible chat between the Queen and Boris Johnson is looking to be an extremely awkward meeting for the Prime Minister.
It comes just days after Johnson was forced to apologise to Her Majesty after it emerged staff parties had been taking place in Downing Street the night before her beloved husband Prince Philip’s funeral last April.
At that time, Covid restrictions banned mixing indoors with anybody, not in your household or support bubble, which severely impacted Philip’s funeral.
The service was limited to just 30 guests and heart-wrenching pictures on the day showed the grieving Queen, following the rules and sitting alone in St George’s Chapel due to social distancing rules at the time.
Today’s audience is the first time the Queen and the PM will have met since news of the parties emerged and comes at a time when Johnson is facing a growing threat of a no-confidence vote from his own MPs…
What happens at the Queen’s audiences with her Prime Minister?
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According to the Royal Family website, the Queen has held a weekly audience with her Prime Minister “throughout her reign in order to discuss Government matters”.
In total, she has had 14 Prime Ministers during her reign ranging from Sir Winston Churchill to Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.
The meetings are held in an Audience room within her apartments and are entirely private – with most former PMs never revealing what is said during them.
The Royal Family website explains: “Though The Queen remains politically neutral on all matters, she is able to ‘advise and warn’ her ministers – including her Prime Minister – when necessary.”
In March 2020, when the UK went into its first coronavirus lockdown, Her Majesty’s meetings between herself and Johnson moved to telephone conversations rather than in-person audiences – although last June, the pair held their first face-to-face audience in 15 months.
Cameras were allowed to capture their opening exchanges and it was here that the Queen famously called former Health Secretary Matt Hancock a “poor man”.
Today’s audience between Johnson and the Queen is likely to be uncomfortable for the PM after being forced to apologise to Her Majesty.
However, it is not the first time he has had to say sorry to the monarch that potentially made their next meeting awkward.
In 2019, it was reported Johnson made a grovelling apology after misleading her over Brexit.
The Prime Minister contacted the monarch by phone from New York, where he had heard the news that his plan to shut down Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to the Brexit deadline had been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.
A Palace source told the Mirror that following the judgement that Her Majesty “will not be amused she is being dragged into the conversation.”
Johnson himself declined to say whether he had apologised telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr that he is “forbidden from commenting on my conversations with Her Majesty.”
It came just months after Johnson shared what the Queen said to him during a private meeting, resulting in him getting a telling off from his staff.
EuroNews journalist Vincent McAviney claimed that the PM admitted the Queen had made a brutally honest comment during their short chat.
He claims she said: “I don’t know why anyone would want the job”.
According to McAviney, staff quickly then told him “not to repeat those things so loudly”.
Meanwhile, in November 2019, he also revealed details of his private meetings with the monarch.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
He posted a video on his Twitter account saying: ” I’m just off to see Her Majesty the Queen, which is always a very tough interview because she always asks the best questions and the question today is: why are we having this election?”
Meanwhile, another potentially uncomfortable chat could have been last year, when the PM’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings claimed Johnson wanted to visit the Queen in-person early in the coronavirus pandemic despite Downing Street staff already falling ill with Covid-19.
The former chief aide in No 10 told the BBC he had to convince the Prime Minister out of visiting her by warning about the potentially grave consequences.
Mr Cummings, who has been engaged in a war of words with Mr Johnson since leaving No 10 in November 2020, alleged Johnson wanted to visit her on March 18, 2020.
“I said, what are you doing? And he said, I’m going to see the Queen and I said, what on earth are you talking about, of course you can’t go and see the Queen,” Mr Cummings said in an interview.
“He said, ah, that’s what I do every Wednesday, sod this, I’m gonna go and see her.
“I just said if you go, if you give her coronavirus and she dies what, what are you gonna, you can’t do that, you can’t risk that, that’s completely insane.”
Downing Street denied the incident – first reported by the Mirror – took place while Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.