Archbishop says Queen’s stoicism at husband’s funeral was ‘flawless’

The Most Rev Justin Welby said he wished more of us had the monarch’s sense of ‘just going to do the right thing’.

02 June 2022

The Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the Queen for her “stoicism” at her husband’s funeral, adding that he wishes there were “more of us” who had “quite that sense of just going to do the right thing”.

Reflecting on a photograph of the Queen alone at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April last year, in compliance with Covid rules at the time, the Most Rev Justin Welby said people would have to be “quite warped” not to “feel that ‘there is someone who does what is right, whatever it costs’”.

His comments may be read as a veiled criticism of Downing Street, given that senior civil servant Sue Gray found boozy drinks parties were held at the heart of Government on the eve of the service – albeit not attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself.

No 10 apologised to Buckingham Palace after reports of the gatherings first came to light in January.

As part of their investigation into lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall, the Metropolitan Police deemed that coronavirus restrictions were breached on April 16 2021.

However, the force did not specify which events led to fines being received.

At the time, socialising indoors with people from other households was not allowed and meeting others outdoors was limited to groups of six people or two households.

Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Asked if the Queen’s stoicism at the funeral seemed “all the more exemplary” in light of events over the last couple of days, the Archbishop said he wished there were “more of us” who had a sense to “do the right thing”.

He told Sky News: “I don’t think there’s anyone in the country who would disagree with the idea that her stoicism, her example to the country, is flawless in so many regards.

“You have to be quite warped not to look at that photograph and feel that ‘there is someone who does what is right, whatever it costs’.

“And that’s extraordinary. I wish there were more of us – and I include myself – who had quite that sense of just going to do the right thing.”

In her pivotal partygate report, Ms Gray referred to “two separate leaving events” on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, one for outgoing communications director James Slack and another for an unnamed No 10 official.

“Alcohol was available at both events and there were speeches,” she said.

“Senior officials attended. Both groups met in the No 10 garden later that evening. The events lasted for several hours.

“The Prime Minister was not in residence.”

The Met concluded that Paragraph 2 of Schedule 2 to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 was breached on the day.

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