Boris Johnson’s office apologized to the royal family on Friday for throwing a party for his staff last year in Downing Street, on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral. It was the latest in a series of meetings that breached lockdown rules and now threaten to bring down the British prime minister.
The communications director’s farewell party, with drinks and dancing late into the night, took place on April 16, 2021, the eve of the funeral where Queen Elizabeth II sat alone due to social distancing rules for stop the transmission of the coronavirus.
Days ago, Johnson apologized for attending a previous meeting in the garden of the Downing Street offices and residence in May 2021, when a strict quarantine was in force throughout the United Kingdom.
Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said the government acknowledges the party last May caused “profound public unease.”
“It is deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No. 10 has sent its apologies to the palace,” he said, referring to the office at 10 Downing Street.
Of the party in April 2021, former communications director James Slack said his job’s farewell party “shouldn’t have happened when it did.”
“I apologize unreservedly for the anger and pain caused,” Slack said in a statement.
“I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility,” added Slack, who has been deputy editor of The Sun tabloid since his departure from the government.
Johnson is not said to have attended that party, revealed by the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
The new revelation has sparked widespread disgust in Britain due to the symbolism that it was held on April 16, 2021, the day before the funeral of the queen’s husband of seven decades.
The Daily Telegraph said Downing Street staff drank, danced and chatted at farewell parties for Slack and another official well into the night. The following day, the queen dowager sat away from the other attendees at the funeral service for her husband at Windsor Castle.
The photo of the monarch, alone, dressed in black and wearing a mask, became a powerful image of the isolation and sacrifice suffered by many during the pandemic.