Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

Boris Johnson apologizes to the queen for 2 pandemic parties at Downing Street.

LONDON — Capping a week of abject contrition, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain apologized on Friday to Buckingham Palace for raucous parties held in Downing Street the night before Queen Elizabeth II buried her husband, Prince Philip, in a socially distanced ceremony that left her grieving alone in a choir stall.

Mr. Johnson, who apologized in Parliament on Wednesday for attending a garden party during a lockdown in 2020, was not present at either of these two gatherings. But the reports of more alcohol-fueled socializing at Downing Street, on the eve of a somber funeral ceremony remembered for its poignant image of an isolated, masked monarch, dealt a fresh blow to an already reeling prime minister.

“It’s deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning,” a spokesman for Downing Street said as outrage over the parties mounted, “and No. 10 has apologized to the palace for that.”

The bacchanalian details of the two parties on April 16, first reported in the Daily Telegraph, are vivid. For one of them, the newspaper said, a staff member was dispatched to a nearby shop to fill up a suitcase with bottles of wine. An aide acted as a disc jockey, and the revelers continued until the early hours of the morning, even breaking a backyard swing used by Mr. Johnson’s toddler son, Wilfred. Mr. Johnson was away at the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, at the time, officials said.

One of the events was a farewell party for a Downing Street press spokesman, James Slack, who left to become deputy editor of The Sun, one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids. The Sun reported on the party after its competition broke it.

“I wish to apologize unreservedly for the anger and hurt caused,” Mr. Slack said in a statement on Friday. “This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry and take full responsibility.”

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