Downing Street staff attended two separate parties the night before Prince Philip’s funeral, under strict Covid rules, with the Queen sitting alone as she said goodbye to her husband, 73, it has been claimed.
The Daily Telegraph reported that two events took place on the evening of April 16, 2021 – when the country was under Level 2 coronavirus restrictions that banned indoor mixing.
Both events are said to have left parties for members of the Prime Minister’s inner team. One was reportedly held for James Slack, Boris Johnson’s then communications director, and the other for the Prime Minister’s personal photographer.
witnesses said so telegraph that “excessive alcohol” was drunk, participants danced to music put on by a special adviser, and meetings lasted past midnight.
The newspaper reported that the celebrations were initially held separately before merging later in the evening. Across both parties, around 30 people were said to be present.
Drinks left for Mr. Slacks who telegraph said colleagues started the party indoors before moving to the Downing Street garden, while the second event was initially confined to the basement before this group also moved to the garden. A spokesman told the newspaper Mr Johnson was not at No 10 on the day of the alleged gatherings.
At one point, a staff member was sent to a local Co-op supermarket with a suitcase that they filled with bottles of wine before they returned to the party, the report said.
Later that evening, a colleague reportedly sat on a children’s swing that belonged to Wilf Johnson, Mr Johnson’s son, and broke it.
A Downing Street spokesman commented on Mr Slack’s farewell event LatestPageNews: “On this person’s last day, he gave a farewell speech to thank each team for the work they have done to support him, both those who had to be in the office on a job basis and those who working from home on screens.” Mr Slack declined to comment when approached by the telegraph.
Spokesman No 10 declined to comment on the allegation that the photographer was left separated from Mr Johnson that same evening.
Responding to reports that staff at 10 Downing Street were partying just hours before the Queen was to attend the Duke of Edinburgh’s socially distanced funeral, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The Queen sitting alone and around mourning the loss of her husband was the defining image of the lockdown.
“Not because she’s the queen, but because she was just another person grieving alone like too many others. While she mourned, Number 10 celebrated. Johnson must go.”
The Level 2 restrictions in place at the time meant funerals like Prince Philip’s on April 17 could take place, but with only 30 attendees.
People have been urged to work from home “if possible” but the rules for dealing with others have been much stricter.
“You are not allowed to socialize indoors except with your household or support bubble,” the guidelines said. “They can meet outdoors, including in gardens, in groups of six or two households.”
Philip’s funeral required guests to sit away from other households, but as the Queen had no family members – other than her husband – in her bubble, she was forced to sit alone.