Boris Johnson’s staff at Downing Street threw two parties the night before Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral telegraph reports, the latest in a list of at least a dozen lockdown-lifting parties said to have been attended by Britain’s Prime Minister and his staff.
On April 17, 2021, the Queen attended her husband’s funeral alone while mourners were told not to leave flowers to avoid COVID-19 infection. But the night before, the atmosphere in Downing Street was much less somber.
Witnesses told the Telegraph that there were originally two separate farewell parties: one in the Downing Street basement, with dancing to music played by a special adviser, and one in the garden, where outgoing communications director James Slack – now senior editor at the Sun newspaper – gave a farewell speech.
Slack apologized Friday morning for the “anger and pain” the party caused. He said he took “full responsibility” and was “deeply sorry.”
In an email statement from the Sun’s editor, News UK, he added: “This event should not have happened at the time it happened.”
According to reports, an employee retracted a suitcase full of alcohol that night. Both groups later met in the garden, where the party lasted well past midnight with around 30 people. A participant broke Boris Johnson’s one-year-old son Wilf’s swing, the Telegraph reported.
A Johnson spokesman said he was absent from the parties and had left for his country home, Checkers, the night before.
“The Queen sat alone in mourning, like so many at the time, with personal trauma and sacrifices to uphold rules in the national interest. I have no words for the culture and behavior at Number 10 and the money stops with the Prime Minister,” said Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner Twitter.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey again called for Johnson to resign. “The queen sitting alone 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,” he wrote on twitter.
Allegations from lockdown violating parties are rising internally investigated by Sue Gray, a civil servant.
This article has been updated.