For British Prime Ministers, listening to the Secret Queen was a breath of fresh air

Fourteen British prime ministers were exhausted by Queen Elizabeth during the 70 years she was on the throne. She asked the fifteenth, Liz Truss, to form another new government two days before her death. The first, Winston Churchill, dates from the 19th century, from 1874; Truss was born 101 years later. With some, I developed a close relationship, with others it never became more than a “necessity”.

Every week, all these prime ministers, twelve men and two women – if we ignore Truss for a moment – go to Buckingham Palace for an interview with Her Majesty. In principle, such a conversation about state affairs lasted half an hour, but could easily stretch to a few hours. It was important to be well prepared, because prime ministers who did not do their homework soon got into trouble with the knowledgeable Elizabeth.

According to the participants, the conversations were often private, precisely because both knew that they were taking place on the basis of guaranteed confidentiality. A relief compared to the snake pit they often spent the rest of the week in. Finally having a serious conversation with someone who doesn’t want your job, Harold Wilson once sighed. ‘You can be quite frank, even unreserved,’ John Major cheered up in the ’90s. Nothing is forbidden.

Also read this article: The queen who lived everyone in silence for seventy years

Despite this complete secrecy, a few things have been leaked over the years, from fairly casual prime ministers, but also from the staff. It is also clear from contacts with other humans that Elizabeth was generally more comfortable with male leaders than with women. For example, the relationship with Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister, was somewhat strained. When Thatcher arrived at the mansion a little early, Elizabeth quietly left the “Iron Lady” antechamber for fifteen minutes.

very preachy

Although they appreciated each other’s professionalism, the women didn’t click well. The Queen liked dry humor, not the virtue that Thatcher bestowed upon her. Elizabeth also believed that Thatcher was at times too preachy and, according to people close to her, was upset by the way in which the Prime Minister had ignored the growing disquiet in the Commonwealth about apartheid in South Africa.

According to Thatcher, this was all nonsense. In her memoirs, she wrote sarcastically, “the stories of clashes between ‘two strong women’ were of course better not made up.” The fact that Thatcher did not leave the Queen untouched was evident from the fact that she attended Thatcher’s funeral in 2013, contrary to protocol. The only person I did it for was Churchill.

Not all men were well. Her relationship with Tony Blair was difficult. The queen, who valued good morals, flatly rejected the proposal to name him “Tony”. The Queen was also bothered that Blair’s wife Cherie wore pants and that she wasn’t wearing any at one of their first meetings. curtseyLight knee bend for the king.

In his first meeting, Elizabeth also raised Blair, who was 43 years old, due to his inexperience. She told him, “You are my tenth prime minister.” “The first was Winston. That was before you were born.” It was the same inexperienced Blair who suggested to the Queen and “the family” that they should show more public sympathy after the dramatic death of Princess Diana and the unprecedented mass explosion of the British people. The case left an imprint on Blair’s relationship with the Queen, although sources also reported that the Queen was later grateful to Blair for his intervention.

I blush I’m sorry

Her relationship with Churchill in the 1950s was very different. The famous statesman, already 77 years old, was somewhat suspicious of an inexperienced head of state. But soon a kind of relationship arose between father and daughter. According to former politician and historian Roy Jenkins, Churchill almost fell in love with the young queen. This feeling was mutual. When Churchill stepped down in 1955, she wrote to him how much she would miss him: “There is no point in pretending that any successor will be able to take the place of my first prime minister.”

It wasn’t just a one-way street from the prime ministers to Buckingham Palace. Sometimes the Queen was also a guest at the Prime Minister’s Downing Street residence. On her silver wedding anniversary, then-Prime Minister James Callaghan offered her a dinner, at which Elizabeth was given a silver teapot. This gift was well received. ‘Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t receive the gift from Mr. Disraeli.’ [destijds premier, red] To Queen Victoria.” “He gave her a painting of himself.”

A friendly relationship is not necessarily determined by race. She got along well with Harold Wilson, her first prime minister who did not have an upper-class background. With David Cameron, on the other hand, who is a distant relative of the Queen, the relationship has remained cool. Cameron mistook New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen was “circling with pleasure” when he called her to say Scots had voted against independence in the 2014 referendum. Ashamed, Cameron apologized.

Little is known about her relationship with Boris Johnson. However, it did allow him, having nearly succumbed to Covid-19, to walk and run in the palace gardens to regain his strength.

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