Downing Street apologises to Buckingham Palace for parties on eve of Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

Downing Street has apologised to Buckingham Palace after it emerged parties were held in Number 10 the day before the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.

By Geraldine Scott
Friday, 14th January 2022, 1:26 pm

Two gatherings reportedly took place at Downing Street, with the Prime Minister’s former director of communications James Slack apologising for the “anger and hurt” one of the events – a leaving do held for him – had caused.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister confirmed No 10 has said sorry to the Palace.

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The spokesman said: “It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No 10 has apologised to the Palace.

“You heard from the PM this week, he’s recognised No 10 should be held to the highest standards, and take responsibility for things we did not get right.”

The day after the events on April 16, 2021, the Queen attended Prince Philip’s funeral wearing a face mask and socially distanced from her family at Windsor Castle, in line with Covid restrictions.

Downing Street apologises to Buckingham Palace for parties on eve of Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral

The PM’s spokesman said Boris Johnson was at his country residence Chequers on April 16 and had not been invited to the events.

Asked why No 10 had apologised rather than Mr Johnson himself, his spokesman said: “Well, again, the Prime Minister said earlier misjudgments have been made and it’s right people apologise, as the PM did earlier this week.

“It remains the case that I can’t prejudge the inquiry, which you know is ongoing, which has been led by Sue Gray, but we acknowledge the significant public anger, it was regrettable this took place a time of national mourning.”

It is understood the apology had been delivered via a telephone call through official channels.

It comes after Mr Slack, who until last year was Mr Johnson’s director of communications, apologised on Friday morning for the “anger and hurt” his leaving party had caused.

Mr Slack, who is now deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun newspaper, said he took “full responsibility” and was “deeply sorry”.

In an emailed statement issued by The Sun’s publisher, News UK, he added: “This event should not have happened at the time that it did.”

His party was one of two reported to have taken place that evening, which started separately and later merged.

The Daily Telegraph reported accounts from witnesses, who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, with a person sent to a local shop with a suitcase to buy wine.

A Downing Street spokesperson said of Mr Slack’s event: “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 those who had to be in the office for work and on a screen for those working from home.”

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said the gatherings were “wholly unacceptable” and confirmed he had submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

His party was one of two reported to have taken place that evening, which started separately and later merged.

The Daily Telegraph reported accounts from witnesses, who said alcohol was drunk and guests danced to music, with a person sent to a local shop with a suitcase to buy wine.

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