So who did propose EU audience with the King? Downing Street, European Union and Buckingham Palace all deny being behind ‘constitutionally unwise’ meeting between Charles and Ursula von der Leyen
- King met EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as a EU deal was reached
- All sides in the negotiations denied organising the meeting, leading to mystery
Questions are being asked over who did arrange the meeting between King Charles and EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen yesterday – after all sides denied organising it.
Amid an otherwise friendly display of unity, government sources claimed von der Leyen’s audience with the King was as the result of a request from the EU Commission.
But Brussels ardently denies this and said the meeting was offered by the UK government – adding that as a non-head-of-state, von der Leyen has no right to meet the King, The Times reports.
Buckingham Palace has recused itself from any part in the dispute, besides making clear that the King himself had nothing to do with arranging the meeting and would never make such a high-profile political invitation himself.
Tory Brexiteers sparked a backlash over the meeting, in addition to some leading figures within the DUP, who insisted it was dragging the King into a controversial political issue.
Questions are being asked over who did arrange the meeting between King Charles and EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen – after all sides denied organising it
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a statement on the Northern Ireland Protocol, at the House of Commons
Former DUP leader Arlene Foster said she ‘could not quite believe that No10 would ask the King to become involved in the finalising of a deal as controversial as this one.’
‘It’s crass and will go down very badly in Northern Ireland. We must remember this is not the King’s decision but the government who, it appears, are tone deaf.’
Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News: ‘It is surprising that the King will meet Ursula von der Leyen today as it antagonizes the people the PM needs to conciliate, It is also constitutionally unwise to involve the King in a matter of immediate political controversy.’
In a bid to deflect the growing criticism, a government source insisted the meeting was at the behest of the EU commission.
Brussels, however, immediately balked at this suggestion and insisted: ‘It was not a request and we were not expecting it.’
During yesterday’s meeting, the royal warmly shook hands with the European Commission President during an audience at Windsor Castle this afternoon.
The meeting came less than two hours after she signed off on changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol at a five-star hotel four miles from His Majesty’s Berkshire home.
Buckingham Palace insisting the Windsor Castle meeting was called on ‘Government advice’.
But the PM’s official spokesman later said that the decision was ‘fundamentally’ one for Buckingham Palace, adding Mr Sunak ‘firmly believes it’s for the King to make those decisions.
The royal received the European Commission president at WIndsor Castle yesterday
‘It’s not uncommon for His Majesty to accept invitations to meet certain leaders, he has met President Duda and President Zelensky recently’.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted the meeting should not go ahead, claiming: ‘It antagonises the people the PM needs to conciliate. It is constitutionally unwise to involve the King in a matter of immediate political controversy.’
Former DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: ‘I cannot quite believe that No10 would ask HM the King to become involved in the finalising of a deal as controversial as this one. It’s crass and will go down very badly in NI.
‘We must remember this is not the King’s decision but the Government who it appears are tone deaf’.
Royal commentator Peter Hunt said of the meeting: ‘This is a very serious error of judgment by King Charles and his advisers.’
The former BBC royal correspondent added: “He’s abandoned his unifying role and entered the political fray, in a foolish bid to be seen as statesmanlike. History won’t be kind. Someone’s head will roll.’
Rishi Sunak (left today) was accused of dragging King Charles III into politics with the monarch meeting EU chief Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor Castle
The meeting did not go down well with some Unionists, including former DUP leader Arlene Foster
Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen as they agreed a new Brexit deal in Windsor yesterday
The Prime Minister and Ms von der Leyen ‘final talks’ in Windsor on Monday before the breakthrough was announced at around 2.30pm.
READ MORE: Brexit deal is DONE: Rishi Sunak and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen shake hands on new terms for Northern Ireland
Buckingham Palace said: ‘The King is pleased to meet any world leader if they are visiting Britain and it is the Government’s advice that he should do so.’ A broad range of issues will discussed including climate change and Ukraine. Brexit may also come up, but Mr Sunak will not be there.
Ms von der Leyen arrived in London by Eurostar yesterday morning and said she was ‘looking forward to turning a page and opening a new chapter with our partner and friend’, ahead of her meeting with the PM and the King.
Responding to Foster tweet, PM’s spokesman said: ‘There will be a range of views. With regard to Ms von der Leyen meeting the King, that is fundamentally a matter for the palace.’
Mr Rees-Mogg earlier described the prospect of a meeting between the King and von der Leyen as a mistake, telling GB News: ‘It is surprising that The King will meet Ursula von der Leyen today as it antagonises the people the PM needs to conciliate’.
He also told GB News: ‘I think the sovereign should only be involved when things have been completed and accepted.
‘The King gives assent to Acts of Parliament when Parliament has agreed, he doesn’t express his view on Acts of Parliament when they are going through the process.
‘I think the same applies, that His Majesty should not be involved until there is full support for this agreement.’
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