The late Queen celebrated the New Year and millennium with Tony Blair at what is now known as The O2.
The author explained that the royals had been “obliged to join Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, at the disastrous New Year’s celebration”, adding that the Queen and Philip were already exhausted when they arrived by boat at Greenwich.
Accompanied by Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, the couple disembarked at the Queen Elizabeth II Pier and made their way into the Dome. There, they were “greeted with rows and rows of empty seats”.
Ms Brown quoted the diary of Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy, which noted “that the royal party were clearly ‘p*ssed off to be there’”.
The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated the New Year with the Blairs
The Queen, Tony Blair and his wife Cherie during the Millennium New Year celebrations
Queen ‘cancer revelation approved by royals to avoid Harry book bombshell’
Gyles Brandreth, a royal author and friend of Prince Philip, has claimed the late Queen Elizabeth II had a form of bone marrow cancer. The biographer made the statement about Her Majesty’s health struggle in his upcoming book, Elizabeth: An Intimate Portrait.
In Power and Responsibility, the third volume of his unique account of life at the centre of the Blair government, Mr Campbell wrote: “TB [Blair] worked away at them… but Anne was like granite. Cherie even curtised to the Queen, a bit of a first I think, but it didn’t seem to do much good… [They tried to get the royals going a bit once ‘Auld Lang Syne’ came on, but it was pretty clear they would rather be sitting under their travelling rugs in Balmoral.
“The Queen did kiss Philip and took his and TB’s hands [with obvious freezing reluctance, the press noted] for ‘Auld Lyne Sang’, but they did not look comfortable with the whole thing. TB claimed Philip said to him it was ‘brilliant’, but his body language did not radiate in that direction.”
Ms Brown noted: “The royal couple were not fans of Blair at the best of times,” recounting the period after Diana’s death, when Blair was new to the job and “made much-publicised efforts to mediate her [the Queen’s] response to popular feeling overly inflated”.
The New Labour leader dubbed Diana, Princess of Wales as ‘the People’s Princess’ and made it known that he had encouraged the Queen to make a statement after her death, purportedly claiming to have saved the reputation of the monarchy.
According to previous reports, the Queen was once quick to put the Prime Minister in his place. In 2002, Mr Blair recalled the morning he was appointed, explaining that when the monarch formally invited him to form a new government, she said “that Winston Churchill was the first Prime Minister that she dealt with, and that was before I was born.”
He told the BBC documentary, Queen & Country: “I got a sense of my, er, my relative seniority, or lack of it.”
“Blair had gotten royal relations off to a chilly start with his government’s 1997 decision not to replace the 43-year-old royal yacht Britannia,” claimed Ms Brown. “It was a political hot potato he had inherited from John Major’s government, and Blair felt he had no choice but to go through with it to appease the lefties in his own party.”
The Queen giving an audience at Buckingham Palace to Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002
The Duke of Edinburgh reportedly complained about the decision, and in December 1997, at the ship’s decommissioning ceremony, the Queen “shed a rare tear”.
Further tension between Mr Blair and the Queen came from an apparent informality that the Blairs had towards the monarchy.
According to reports, Cherie did not curtsey to Queen Elizabeth on her first visit to Balmoral in 1997, and she allegedly left the Queen feeling “mortified” upon her decision to wear a trouser suit, deemed to be an incredibly inappropriate choice in the presence of royalty.
However, Mr Blair did reveal that the late monarch was one of the only people to whom he could tell his true thoughts and opinions.
The Queen wiping a tear from her eye at the decommissioning ceremony
Tony Blair and his wife Cherie in 2013
Despite this, Mr Blair did include private conversations he had with the Queen in his memoirs, leading many to believe a reserve remained between the royals and the Blairs.
Following the Queen’s death in September, Mr Blair issued a statement which read: “The Queen has been part of my life for all of my life. From the moment I waved my little flag as I watched her, as a child, be driven through the streets of Durham, to the honour of being her Prime Minister, to my last meeting with her and then lunching with her at Windsor Castle for the Garter ceremony just a few months ago, she has been an enduring presence of strength and stability.
At that lunch, we sat next to each other and she was on sparkling form as we talked – warm, gracious, humorous and spirited.”
The Palace Papers was written by Tina Brown and published by Century in 2022. It is available here
Power and Responsibility was written by Alastair Campbell and published by Arrow Books Ltd in 2012. It is available.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK