Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

Charles had no choice but to meet VDL as ‘he can’t reject PM’s advice’

King Charles’ role in NI deal discussed by Nigel Farage

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King Charles had no choice but to honour Rishi Sunak’s request for him to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a senior constitutional expert told Express.co.uk. A monarch “cannot reject advise by the Prime Minister”, they said, meaning the King was left with no other option.

The King’s meeting with the senior Eurocrat at Windsor Castle came just hours after she agreed a new Brexit deal with Mr Sunak.

It sparked a fierce backlash, with the Prime Minister accused of dragging the monarch into Brexit politics in order to push his own agenda, as he had requested the King meet Ms von der Leyen.

Politicians from all sides condemned the PM for staging the meeting to make it appear as though the King backed the deal.

But a senior constitutional expert said such a meeting between a monarch and a senior foreign political figure was not unusual, and suggested that the King had no choice but to host her.

They told Express.co.uk: “The King can receive any foreign leader on the advice of the Prime Minister, it doesn’t mean that he necessarily agrees with that leader… He’s just receiving her and giving her a tea.”

The source added that Charles had to accept Mr Sunak’s request, adding: “You can’t reject advice by the Prime Minister, but the Prime Minister should try and avoid getting the King into controversy.”

They added: “If the Prime Minister insisted to the end I think would be very difficult for the king to refuse.”

Other constitutional experts agreed, and said the monarch only acts on the advice of the Government.

Professor Robert Hazell of the UCL Constitution Unit, told The Times: “Everything that the monarch does is on the advice of the government and the prime minister. They cannot pass the buck in that way.”

Craig Prescott, a constitutional expert at Bangor University, also told the newspaper that the King only sees foreign leaders on the advice of the government.

He added: “But if you’ve got advice from the government then the king is bound to do it.”

Politicians, including former Cabinet minister and Boris Johnson ally Jacob Rees-Mogg, rushed to condemn the Prime Minister for embroiling the King in the controversial Brexit deal.

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Former Cabinet minister and leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky News: “If there were a plan to bring the King in before there is domestic political agreement, it would border on constitutional impropriety.”

Labour’s shadow Northern Ireland secretary Peter Kyle said: “I do not know how a thought of involving the King could pass somebody’s mind and reach it to their mouth before they realise that this is a very very unwise policy to choose because it has constitutional implications.”

Commenting on the meeting between the monarch and Ms von der Leyen, Buckingham Palace said the King was acting on “the Government’s advice” and that their discussions would feature a “range of topics”.

Downing Street has defended the decision to advise the King to meet Ms von der Leyen.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Sunak believes “fundamentally” the decision was for Buckingham Palace.

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