Queen Elizabeth has filed a complaint against UK tabloid the Sun, as reported by Reuters. Buckingham Palace released a statement on March 9, saying royal aides had contacted the Independent Press Standards Organisation with regard to the “code of conduct relating to accuracy” section of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The Sun has written a front-page article that Queen Elizabeth was against the proposed UK break from the EU, commonly known as “Brexit.” The UK is holding a referendum later this year to vote on whether to remain in the EU, and a confirmed opinion on Europe from the Queen could sway the vote.
“Under the front-page headline ‘Queen backs Brexit’, The Sun newspaper quoted unidentified sources as saying that Elizabeth had made her opposition to British membership of the EU clear on at least two occasions over the past decade.”
BBC Home Duty Editor Neil Henderson tweeted the Sun article under the hashtag #tomorrowspaperstoday.
As well as the clear-cut anti-EU headline, the Sun went on to write that Queen Elizabeth “had told then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a Windsor Castle lunch in 2011 that the EU was heading in the wrong direction.” Clegg, who continues to sit as a Member of Parliament, took to Twitter to deny the claim.
Re Sun story. As I told the journalist this is nonsense. I've no recollection of this happening & its not the sort of thing I would forget— Nick Clegg (@nick_clegg) March 8, 2016
According to CNN, an unnamed “senior political source” confided to the Sun that they “‘were left in no doubt about her [Queen Elizabeth’s] views on Europe.'”
“‘The Sun stands by its story, which was based upon two impeccable sources and presented in a robust, accessible fashion. The Sun will defend this complaint vigorously…'”
The Buckingham Palace statement stressed that Queen Elizabeth remained “politically neutral” on the Brexit issue. They added that the Palace “will not comment on spurious, anonymously sourced claims. The referendum is a matter for the British people to decide.”
Although Elizabeth is Queen of the UK and the commonwealth countries, including Canada and Australia, in reality, Queen Elizabeth has little actual power. The British royal family forms a “constitutional monarchy,” which means that an elected parliament makes the laws while the Queen remains the ceremonial Head of State. The Queen is therefore required to stay neutral and apart from party politics.
The Brexit issue is contentious, and Queen Elizabeth’s supposed opinion on it is so controversial that the Sun article was even discussed in parliament during Prime Minister’s Questions. According the Guardian, Sir Ed Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, spoke to the Today program on BBC Radio 4.
“The Queen knows that if we vote to pull out of the EU, it’s the surest way to destroy the United Kingdom, because Scotland will then vote to go independent, as we all know. So I very much doubt she holds the views that are given her in The Sun.”
The views attributed to the Queen by the Sun are actually not in-sync with its headline. As the Guardian reports, eminent journalist and biographer of Queen Elizabeth, Andrew Marr, suspects that the headline “‘might be true.'”
However, Marr later retweeted the opinion of Tom Hamilton, who pointed out that the Sun headline made it appear that the Queen supports Brexit. However, the Sun admits in the article “that it does not really know what the Queen thinks about Brexit.”
The EU Brexit referendum will be held on 23 June and it will be open to Commonwealth citizens of voting age who are resident in the UK. Citizens of other European countries will not get a vote. According to BBC News, the British public is “fairly evenly split” on the Brexit debate. Speaking on camera to ITV Evening News, Clegg continued his condemnation of the Sun’s article about the Queen.
“I think it’s appalling that people who want to drag the UK out of the EU now want to drag the Queen into the EU debate…and as for The Sun story it’s nonsense…”
[Photo by Scott Heppell/AP Images]