Inside Queen Elizabeth’s Relationship With Boris Johnson

Because Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne for almost 70 years, it’s not surprising that she’s had 14 prime ministers (via the Evening Standard) and enjoyed different relationships with them. She was awe-struck by one (Winston Churchill), related to another (David Cameron), and leaned on a third when times were tough (John Major). The ones that served her longest (Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair), may not have been her favorites (via CNN) but none triggered a constitutional crisis in the way Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson did in his quest to put Brexit in the bag. 

In 2019, Johnson had advised the queen that parliament should be prorogued — or shut down — for five weeks before the United Kingdom was scheduled to exit the European Union (via BBC). The advice brought the queen, who is a constitutional monarch, into the middle of the Brexit controversy, since she is the only person with the authority to shut parliament down this way, since prorogation is usually carried out before the queen’s speech, where she outlines the government’s priorities. The British Supreme Court decided that the suspension was unconstitutional, and parliament returned to work (via The Guardian).

The queen and Boris Johnson are publicly cordial

Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth have appeared to move on from that incident, and little has been said about their working relationship since that time. We know that the queen had “sent her warm wishes” to the prime minister and his partner Carrie Symonds after the birth of their son in April of 2020 (via Town & Country).

We know that during the controversy that erupted after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke with Oprah Winfrey, Johnson refused to weigh in on allegations that the royal family is racist, saying instead that he had “the highest admiration for the queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth” (via Politico). We also know that Johnson was gracious in his tribute to the queen’s husband Prince Philip during the time of his death, saying that he had “earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth and around the world” (via The New York Times). 

We don’t know if the queen has gotten over the potential constitutional kerfuffle Johnson had exposed her to, or indeed if she holds grudges like that. What we do know is at the very least, there is mutual respect and civility between Her Majesty and her prime minister.

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