The Queen sticks a toe into Brexit
Despite being the U.K.’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II never talks about politics.
Except when she does.
Her minders carefully keep her above the political fray, and her weekly audiences with the prime minister are strictly private affairs. When they do want to get her message across to the public, though, they know how to do it.
In a speech this week to her local Women’s Institute voluntary group, she talked up the virtue of “speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view, coming together to seek out the common ground and never losing sight of the bigger picture.”
In a nation at war with itself over Brexit, overseen by a faction-riven Parliament incapable of deciding on the best way forward, her message could hardly have been clearer. And not for the first time.
Before Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum, the Queen told well-wishers outside a church near her Scottish home she hoped “people will think very carefully about the future” -- a comment widely interpreted as a plea for voters to opt against splitting from the U.K.
The Palace quickly insisted she had meant nothing of the kind. But Prime Minister David Cameron revealed during a trip to New York she had “purred” down the phone on hearing the result, a breach of protocol that clearly confirmed which side she was on.
The power of a royal intervention was not lost on those campaigning to take the U.K. out of the European Union in the 2016 referendum. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accused prominent Leave campaigner Michael Gove of masterminding the leak of a conversation leading to the infamous “Queen Backs Brexit” headline in the Sun newspaper less than months before the vote.
Again, the Palace denied she had taken a view.
Now politicians on all sides are looking to the Queen to help heal divisions.