Sunday 11 September 2022

What did the late Queen think of her Prime Ministers? Blair was her least favourite until Boris

The late Queen made one big mistake, I was reminded by Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times today.

The devious Harold Macmillan manipulated her, at an audience at his bedside in hospital an hour after he had resigned, to appoint Lord Home as his successor, whereas the cabinet wanted Rab Butler. 

This is the reason why the monarch's last remaining power, to choose the Prime Minister when the Tories were in office, was taken from her and why we recently had the absurd, divisive and time wasting elections by Conservative Party members of the Prime Minister. 

It's why Boris Johnson and Liz Truss became Prime Minister. 

Neither were the choice of the cabinet or backbench MPs.

The system by which someone emerged was in some ways better, but it would have meant Margaret Thatcher would have been unlikely to have become leader of the party and Prime Minister. 

Had she done so it would have meant she would not have been removed.

Mr. Macmillan's choice was not necessarily wrong. Lord Home was a good Prime Minister in the year he held the job. 

Another moment of controversy for the Queen was a story in July 1986 on the Sunday Times front page under the headline was “Queen dismayed by ‘uncaring’ Thatcher” because of Mrs. Thatcher’s refusal to support Commonwealth sanctions on South Africa and because she was “uncaring, confrontational and socially divisive”. These remarks, says Tim Shipman who must know, came from the Queen's press secretary, though this was denied at the time.

I do not know if she intended her views to be leaked. 

Tim Shipman thinks this was a second mistake. It wasn't. I don't think the story did the Queen any harm.

The Queen told Donald Trump, when he asked her who was her favourite Prime Minister, that she liked them all. This was diplomatic. Tim Shipman has these three nuggets.
'Once asked who had been her favourite prime minister, the Queen replied: “Winston, of course, because it was always such fun."'

'A few years ago I had dinner with the former prime minister of one of the Queen’s realms, who told me a delicious story he had heard from a senior French diplomat. The Frenchman, with the chutzpah of one unburdened by deference, had boldly asked the Queen who had been her favourite prime minister. She replied, with a sly grin: “That’s not the right question. What you should ask me is who has been my least favourite.” The answer was: “Mr Blair, of course.”'
That was mostly because he referred to Diana as the People's Princess. 

We do not know if she disliked Mr Johnson even more than Mr Blair, but it's possible. Tim Shipman quotes a source close to the Palace:
“At least she will be spared having to give Boris a knighthood. I think she loathes Boris because of his behaviour. He went around referring to her as ‘Her Maj’ and he never gave her any useful advice. You would have expected a prime minister to help sort out the mess with Prince Andrew, but Boris couldn’t help because he was mired in scandal of his own.”

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