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Would you like us to relax the rules, your Majesty?

This image of the Queen sitting alone at her husband's funeral was one of the defining images of 2021:

Photo: Reuters

What we weren't aware of at the time was that the UK Government had offered to relax the laws on funeral attendance, but that the Queen declined because it would be unfair on others. This was reported by Private Eye magazine:

A reminder — at a time when proper leadership from the current UK Prime Minister is sorely lacking — of how to lead by example. There's also a certain irony that the unelected monarch showed a far greater regard for 'her people' in behaving ethically than some of the members and officials of the elected government. On the day of the funeral, the Queen complied with the law her government-imposed, while the night before, Boris Johnson's closest advisers held an illegal party in contravention of rules they'd created.

The fact the offer was even made is astonishing and speaks volumes about ethical decision-making in the government.

It's the perfect reminder that effective leadership doesn't come from having a title and being able to tell people what to do. Respect, as they say, is earned, not given. A lesson there not just for Johnson but also for her second eldest son. Both of whom, I suspect, might have reached a different conclusion to the Queen on the merits of bending the rules.

Also, a reminder — at a time when journalistic standards aren't always as high as we need them to be — of the importance of publications like Private Eye, the satirical magazine that published the story. They've been holding the rich, famous and powerful to account for a long time using a highly effective combination of satire and investigative journalism and show no signs of letting up. A highly recommended subscription which — as I move from London to Munich — I was delighted to see now comes in digital form. At least, for people outside the UK.


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