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Boris Johnson's office apologises to Queen Elizabeth for lockdown party on eve of Prince Philip's funeral

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has apologised to Queen Elizabeth after it emerged that staff had partied late into the night in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has apologised to Queen Elizabeth after it emerged that staff had partied late into the night at 10 Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip's funeral, at a time when mixing indoors was banned.

Key points:
  • UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph says the PM's staff went to a nearby supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, spilled wine on carpets, and broke a swing used by the PM's young son

  • A spokesman for the PM says he was at his Chequers country residence that day and was not invited to any gathering

  • The PM is under growing pressure to quit as opponents say he is unfit to rule and has misled parliament

Mr Johnson is facing the gravest crisis of his prime ministership after almost daily revelations about a series of social gatherings during COVID-19 lockdowns, some held when ordinary people could not bid farewell in person to dying relatives.

After building a political career out of flouting accepted norms, Mr Johnson is now under growing pressure from some members of his own party to resign.

Opponents say he is unfit to rule and has misled parliament by denying COVID-19 guidelines were breached.

In an extraordinary twist to a saga that has been widely lampooned by comedians and cartoon artists, UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph said drinks parties were held inside 10 Downing Street on April 16, 2021, the day before Prince Philip's funeral.

"It is deeply regrettable this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 (Downing Street) has apologised to the Palace," Mr Johnson's spokesman told reporters.

Mr Johnson was at his Chequers country residence that day and was not invited to any gathering, his spokesman said.

Such was the revelry at Downing Street, the Telegraph said, that staff went to a nearby supermarket to buy a suitcase of alcohol, spilled wine on carpets, and a swing used by the PM's young son was broken.

Wearing all black and a face mask, the Queen stands alone in the pewsWearing all black and a face mask, the Queen stands alone in the pews
The Queen cut a solitary and solemn figure at Prince Philip's funeral.(AP: Yui Mok/Pool)

The next day, Queen Elizabeth bade farewell to Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, following his death at age 99.

Dressed in black and in a white trimmed black face mask, the 95-year-old Queen cut a poignant figure as she sat alone, in strict compliance with coronavirus rules, during the funeral service for Prince Philip at Windsor Castle.

Calls for PM's resignation

Opponents have called for Mr Johnson, 57, to resign, casting him as a charlatan who demanded the British people follow some of the most onerous rules in peacetime history while his own staff partied at the heart of the British state.

A small but growing number in his own Conservative Party have echoed those calls, fearing it will do lasting damage to its electoral prospects.

"Sadly, the Prime Minister's position has become untenable," said Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, a former Johnson supporter.

"The time is right to leave the stage."

Mr Johnson has given a variety of explanations of the parties, ranging from denials that any rules were broken to expressing understanding for the public anger at apparent hypocrisy at the heart of the British state.

Johnson sorry over 'BYO' party at Downing Street
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson stares forward in front of a British flag.Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson stares forward in front of a British flag.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has apologised after attending a "bring your own booze" party in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street during a 2020 lockdown.

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, seen as a possible successor, said "real mistakes" were made.

"We need to look at the overall position we're in as a country, the fact that he (Mr Johnson) has delivered Brexit, that we are recovering from COVID… He has apologised."

"I think we now need to move on."

To trigger a leadership challenge, 54 of the 360 Conservative members of parliament must write letters of no confidence to the chairman of the party's "1922 Committee".

One of the April 2021 parties was a leaving event for James Slack, a former director of communications at Downing Street, who on Friday apologised "for the anger and hurt caused".

Mr Slack, now deputy editor of the tabloid Sun newspaper, said in a statement that the gathering "should not have happened at the time that it did".

British police said on Thursday they would not investigate gatherings held in Mr Johnson's residence during a coronavirus lockdown unless an internal government inquiry finds evidence of potential criminal offences.

Reuters

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