ALAN FRAME believes the latest Palace denial regarding the Queen’s views on Europe has little substance
To paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies, “Well, they would say that wouldn’t they” (for Lord Astor, read Buckingham Palace).
I say that following the Palace ‘s formal denial of the Sun’s splash (sorry, ‘exclusive bombshell’) this morning that the Queen had let it be known at a reception for MPs that she ‘didn’t understand Europe’ and that in 2011 she made very clear her ‘passionate’ views on Europe during a Windsor Castle lunch attended by, among others, Nick Clegg whom she is said to have ‘berated’ for his pro-Euro views.
Several points have to be made:
One: At just a month short of her 90th birthday it would be stretching it to believe that those ‘passionate’ views are in favour of Europe, further integration, open borders and what have you. This is a near nonagenarian with the most traditional values who just happens to be head of the British Commonwealth and the Anglican Communion. A fanatical Euro enthusiast? Don’t be so bloody daft.
Two: When HM is alleged to have spoken on Europe the UK was not about to decide its future in a referendum so, discreet though she is by nature and training, the Queen would have felt less restricted in expressing her frustrations.
Three: Clegg, a Europhile who seems to be fingered as the nark (and denies it of course), does not shine as the obvious candidate to repeat anti-EU sentiments from the monarch. But Michael Gove was also there and he is a pal of the newly-wed Rupert Murdoch (indeed, he was all present and correct at the St Bride’s nuptials last Saturday). And there were dozens of others who could be the source…after all, if you have just come from lunch with the Queen are you really going to answer the inevitable questions about the experience with ‘I’m sorry, I really cannot comment’? That’s simply not how life is.
Four: Despite what much of the public thinks, newspapers do not sit around wondering what stories to invent. Splashes like the Sun’s are based on information and in this case, according to the paper, from two ‘impeccably placed’ sources.
But the real reason I believe the Sun’s story and doubt the inevitable Palace denial is because the royal spokespeople have form, serious form. At the Express in the 80s and 90s every story about an impending divorce between Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie, or Anne and Mark Phillips was met with a vehement denial. Right up to the announcement of a forthcoming divorce. In the case of the Wales, we all knew the couple had been apart in every sense of the word for years and this was formalised in 1996. I was on the Kilroy morning TV programme during the early part of that decade and I made reference to the fact that the Buck House Press office was not too pally with the truth. Result: Formal complaint to the chairman of Express Newspapers Lord Stevens. Nice try Palace but all they scored was an own goal.
My money’s on the Sun being right, just as it is on stories that Downing Street did for John Longworth as head of the British Chambers of Commerce despite the denials. The fact is those in power always lie if they think it would benefit them. And that’s the truth…