The Sunday Telegraph

Queen may not resume personal meetings with PM until October

- By Victoria Ward

THE Queen is not expected to hold a face-to-face audience with Boris Johnson before the autumn, The Sunday Telegraph understand­s.

The last time the two met for their weekly audience at Buckingham Palace was in March last year, shortly before the first lockdown was announced and the Queen and the late Duke of Edinburgh decamped to Windsor.

Since then, the audiences have continued most weeks, but on the phone.

It is understood to be the longest time in her almost 70-year reign that Her Majesty has been unable to conduct face-to-face meetings with the serving prime minister. The Queen met Mr Johnson at the leaders’ reception at the G7 summit in Cornwall on Friday. She is expectd to meet President Joe Biden today for afternoon tea and Windsor Castle. They will see each other again if Mr Johnson is invited to Balmoral for a short stay during the Queen’s annual summer break, when she traditiona­lly hosts members of her family and the prime minister.

Buckingham Palace has not yet confirmed whether Her Majesty will return to Scotland this year, as is tradition, but it is thought likely. Her weekly audiences will resume on her return, usually at the beginning of October, but even then, there is no guarantee they will be in person.

Aides insisted that the continued postponeme­nt of the traditiona­l faceto-face meeting was simply down to Covid restrictio­ns and the desire to keep the 95-year-old monarch safe.

They dismissed suggestion­s that it was a political move, prompted by frustratio­n over the proroguing of parliament in 2019, which was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

When the weekly audiences are permitted to resume, Mr Johnson will likely have to travel from Downing Street to Windsor Castle, which has become the Queen’s favoured base. The weekly audience is often portrayed as something of a counsellin­g session for the serving prime minister, who is able to talk freely without fear of leaks, while drawing on the monarch’s vast experience and knowledge. While they have continued remotely, the Queen has conducted some in-person engagement­s such as visiting the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede in April and meeting the crew on the HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth last month.

On Saturday the Queen received her official birthday gift from the Armed Forces in a mini Trooping the Colour.

Windsor Castle was the setting featuring soldiers who have supported communitie­s and the NHS during the pandemic or served overseas. The birthday parade is a gift from the Household Division – the Army’s most prestigiou­s regiments – which has a close affinity with the monarch and is keen to show its loyalty to the Crown.

The traditiona­l Trooping the Colour ceremony, which normally features hundreds of servicemen and women and thousands of spectators, was ruled out for the second year because of the Covid threat.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Stone, who planned the Queen’s official birthday celebratio­ns in Windsor Castle’s quadrangle, said he wanted to create a “memorable and uplifting day”.

 ??  ?? The Queen met Boris and Carrie Johnson at a G7 reception in Cornwall on Friday
The Queen met Boris and Carrie Johnson at a G7 reception in Cornwall on Friday

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