UK government apologizes to Queen for ‘suitcase of wine’ parties on eve of Prince Philip’s funeral

On the night before Prince Philip’s funeral last April, as the nation was in state mourning and Queen Elizabeth prepared to rest her husband of nearly 74 years, alcohol-fueled rallies were held at UK government offices in 10 Downing Street, as first reported by a newspaper Telegraph.

The government has now apologized to Buckingham Palace for the events. “It is extremely unfortunate that this is happening at a time of national mourning and Number 10 has apologized to the palace,” Deputy Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy spokesperson told reporters on Friday.

An event was held to mark the passing of Director of Communications James Slack, now deputy editor-in-chief of the country’s bestselling newspaper, The Sun.

Slack also apologized for the “anger and hurt caused” by the event, which he said “should not have happened at the time it happened,” in a statement reported by the Palestinian News Agency on Friday.

The apologies followed Thursday’s Telegraph report, which said two meetings of up to 30 people were held in Downing Street on April 16, 2021.

Accompanied by the headline “Winery tour to fill a suitcase with wine,” the Telegraph reported that staff at parties brought liquor bought from a nearby shop in a suitcase, played music, danced, and somehow broke a hammock used by the prime minister’s son, Minister Boris Johnson.

The Telegraph is often seen as a fan of Johnson, who was once its correspondent in Brussels and was writing a paid column for publication even after entering high-profile politics.

A day after the rally, Philip’s funeral provided one of the most powerful images of the pandemic. The Queen sat alone in the chapel at Windsor Castle during the service, observing strict social distancing rules, and the image of the solitary monarch aroused great public sympathy, both at home and abroad.

Covid-19 restrictions at the time, which imposed a maximum of 30 guests at the funeral, also meant that some of Philip’s closest friends were unable to attend.

In April 2021, people in England were banned from social contact inside their homes with people outside their household or, if they live alone, with members of more than one other household. Outdoor gatherings were limited to groups of six people or two families.

The Telegraph reported that Johnson did not attend the April 16 ceremony, but news of another social gathering held under his supervision while the rest of the country was living under a strict lockdown is adding pressure on the already embattled leader.

A Downing Street spokesperson responded to CNN’s request for comment on Thursday’s Telegraph report by saying: “On this individual’s last day, he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they had done to support him, both of whom had to be in the office for work and on screen. For those who work from home. The spokesperson confirmed that they were referring to James Slack.

Boris Johnson apologizes for attending 'Downing Street'  Bring your own alcoholic beverages & # 39;  Party during closing

When asked by CNN for further comments Friday morning, a Downing Street spokesperson said the above statement is the only one the office will issue.

The latest discoveries have deepened the political divide Johnson found himself in over social events in and around Downing Street in the spring of 2020 and the lead-up to Christmas that year, when national restrictions prevented such gatherings.

When these questions began, Johnson initially dismissed them by saying that no parties were held and that his staff and aides had followed the rules at all times. Since then, a torrent of allegations and leaks have shed light on several gatherings.

The news sparked public outrage, drowned Johnson’s Conservative Party in opinion polls, and led to scrutiny of his position.
On Wednesday, Johnson apologized for attending a back garden event on 10 Downing Street on May 20, 2020, but said he believed the gathering was a work event – a claim opposition leader Keir Starmer said was “ridiculous” and “attack”.

The rallies led by senior government official Sue Gray are being investigated.

CNN’s Luke McGee, Rob Picheta and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this report.

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