Paraphrasing a recent interaction with the late Queen Elizabeth II, Boris Johnson labeled the Queen as “absolutely focused” during their final engagement, which occurred only two days prior to her death. Johnson, having relinquished his role as Prime Minister, had submitted his resignation to the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland the previous week.
Recalling his encounter, Johnson conveyed his awe at the Queen’s resilience in the face of evident ailment; a testament, he noted, to her unwavering “sense of duty” to the UK monarchy. His confidence in the monarchy’s continuity, he believed, was largely due to her influence.
During her time, the Queen modernized and revolutionized the UK constitutional monarchy, but Johnson attributes her biggest triumph to the seamless transition of power to her son, King Charles III. Johnson, the 14th prime minister during Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign, had a unique perspective on her life and impact, having conferred with her frequently on various nationally vital issues.
These weekly conversations continued unabated, often serving as a calming oasis amid the flurry of government duties. Even during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, their meetings persisted in a digital format, attesting to their mutual dedication.
Johnson nostalgically recalled a nationally unifying instance when, in collaboration with his administration, the Queen delivered a particularly heartening broadcast during the initial lockdown in April 2020. Her words echoed the determined spirit of the WW2 era, lending a sense of stability and unity in a time of apprehension.
Johnson dismissed suggestions of any sour note in their relationship, stemming from alleged Covid rule-breaches during Downing Street gatherings. He explained, the Queen, with her unwavering focus on constitutional functions, never waded into such controversies.
During their audiences, a myriad of topics was frequently discussed. The Queen’s vast knowledge of history, politics, and her unique insights into personalities, ranging from ex-US President John F Kennedy to India’s former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were treasured by Johnson.
Expressing admiration for her role in Britain’s progression over her reign, Johnson suggested that she be referred to as “Elizabeth the Great”.
Foreseeably, Johnson was deeply moved by Elizabeth’s passing. He described the enormity of his emotional response as ‘colossal’ and ‘inexplicable’.
In terms of King Charles III’s reign, he cautiously predicted that he wouldn’t foresee any drastic alteration in governance. He termed the transition as “absolutely flawless,” reflecting again on the Queen’s profound influence.