Queen Elizabeth didn't back Brexit, former adviser claims

Sally Osman worked closely with the Queen and senior royals at the Palace from 2014 to 2018. (Getty)
Sally Osman worked closely with the Queen and senior royals at the Palace from 2014 to 2018. (Getty)

The Queen did not support Brexit, the Queen's former director of royal communications has said.

Sally Osman was a senior adviser to the former monarch from 2014-2018, during which the UK experienced significant political turbulence as it voted on whether to leave the EU.

Speaking to CNN about her four-year tenure as Director of Royal Communications for Buckingham Palace, Osman said there had been a "few" crises - notably "when people tried to bring the Queen into politics".

Osman then gave the example of the headline "Queen backs Brexit", which appeared in The Sun in 2016.

At the time, the press regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) called the headline "significantly misleading."

The Sun front page (Andy Rain/EPA)
The Sun front page (Andy Rain/EPA)

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The Sun reported at the time that a conversation had taken place between Queen Elizabeth and the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. A source claimed that "the EU is clearly something Her Majesty feels passionately about," and that "people who heard the conversation were left in no doubt at all about the Queen's views on European integration".

Clegg denied these claims, saying he could not remember the alleged conversation. He said at the time: "I think I would have remembered something as stark or significant" as the alleged comments. He added that he believed it to be "rather distasteful to reveal conversations with the Queen."

Asked by host Christiane Amanpour if the headline was accurate, Osman replied: "I don't think so." She added that the late Queen could "ask very pertinent questions, that's for sure."

She said the "alleged conversation came from a period, I think, before anybody had actually invented the word Brexit." She went on to say that the Queen "was very astute."

Osman also defended reported comments made by the Queen ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. The Queen is believed to have said to a member of the public outside Crathie Kirk that she hoped "people will think very carefully about the future," in relation to the referendum. Amanpour said that the comment "was seen as a signal."

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried in the State Hearse as it proceeds towards St. George's Chapel on September 19, 2022 in Windsor, England. The committal service at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, took place following the state funeral at Westminster Abbey. A private burial in The King George VI Memorial Chapel followed. Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland on September 8, 2022, and is succeeded by her eldest son, King Charles III. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II is carried in the State Hearse as it proceeds towards St. George's Chapel (Getty)

Osman replied: "But what was it a signal for? To think carefully, so she wasn't saying one way or the other."

"That's part of what the monarchy's mystique is, about projecting. People project, families project onto the Royal Family. You know there will be many families across the country, across the world now who will be projecting their own sadness and losses" onto the Queen's state funeral.

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The Queen's death means the start of a new era under King Charles III - who himself has made a number of significant political statements in recent years

These include statements about the climate crisis. Charles has been a supporter of environmentalism since the 1970s and last year made comments at the COP26 that climate change poses "an existential threat."

He is also reported to have described the government's policy of deporting migrants to Rwanda "appalling" and that "it was clear he was not impressed with the government's direction of travel."

Clarence House responded by saying: "We would not comment on supposed anonymous private conversations" but reinforced "that [Charles] remains politically neutral," without explicitly denying the claims.

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Charles's activism may be somewhat watered down in the coming month has indicated repeatedly that he will be less vocal as monarch. In his first address to the nation as monarch he said: "It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others."

His son William, now Prince of Wales, is also a committed environmentalist and launched the Earthshot Prize, which is designed to find solutions to the climate crisis in 2020.