LONDON – Ending a week of abject contrition, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday apologized to Buckingham Palace for the noisy parties in Downing Street the night before her husband Prince Philip’s funeral by the Queen Elizabeth II in a socially distanced ceremony that left her mourning alone in a choir stall.
Mr Johnson, who apologized to Parliament on Wednesday for attending a garden party during a 2020 lockdown, was not present at either gathering. But reports of greater alcohol-fueled socialization in Downing Street, on the eve of a grim funeral ceremony, known for its poignant image of an isolated and masked monarch, has dealt a further blow to a Prime Minister already shaken.
“It is deeply regrettable that this has come at a time of national mourning,” a Downing Street spokesperson said as outrage against the holidays mounted, “and the No 10 apologized to the palace for it.”
The Bacchic details of the two sides on April 16, first reported in the Daily Telegraph, are startling. For one, according to the newspaper, a staff member was sent to a nearby store to fill a suitcase with bottles of wine. An assistant acted as a disc jockey and the revelers continued into the wee hours of the morning, even breaking a swing used by Mr Johnson’s toddler son Wilfred. Mr Johnson was away at the Prime Minister’s country residence, Checkers, at the time, officials said.
One of the events was a farewell party for Downing Street press spokesperson James Slack, who left to become deputy editor of The Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids. The Sun reported on the party after its competitors broke it.
“I wish to apologize wholeheartedly for the anger and the hurt caused,” Slack said in a statement Friday. “This event should not have happened when it did. I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility.