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Queen not amused over Brexit article

March 9, 2016

After a newspaper claimed the Queen wants to leave the EU, the monarch's office has complained to the press watchdog. The story had breached a prohibition against "inaccurate, misleading or distorted information."

Großbritannien Queen Elizabeth II. in Windsor
Image: Getty Images/AFP/C.Jackson

Under a front page headline "Queen Backs Brexit," the Sun newspaper, part of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, claimed in its Wednesday morning front page that "Queen backs Brexit."

The Queen's office at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday took the highly unusual step of writing to the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO). "The complaint relates to clause one of the editors' code of practice," which prohibits "inaccurate, misleading or distorted information," a Palace spokesman confirmed.

Earlier, the office had declined to comment on "spurious, anonymously sourced claims" and insisted: "The Queen remains politically neutral, as she has for 63 years ... The referendum will be a matter for the British people."

It is believed to be the first time that the Palace has complained to IPSO which was set up in September 2014. But the Royal family had made several complaints to the agency's predecessor, the Press Complaints Commission.

Anonymous sources

The Sun had cited anonymous sources in its report that Queen Elizabeth had told then-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at lunch in Windsor Castle in April 2011 that the EU was heading in the wrong direction. The story said the Queen "left no room for doubt about her passionate feelings over Europe."

Clegg called the report "nonsense," and tweeted: "I've no recollection of this happening (and) it's not the sort of thing I would forget." Other people who were at the lunch five years ago were Conservative Brexit supporters Michael Gove and Cheryl Gillan, and LibDem peer Lord McNally.

"The Sun stands by its story, which was based upon two impeccable sources and presented in a robust, accessible fashion. The Sun will defend this complaint vigorously," a spokesman for the newspaper said on Wednesday.

The Sun article also said the "claims will trigger a controversy," and that was true in relation to the reaction to the article from radio and television bulletins on Wednesday.

In or Out vote in June

An "In or out" of Europe referendum is being held on June 23 with the outcome currently forecast as close with latest polls showing about 55 percent of voters polled saying they would vote for staying in Europe and 45 percent in favor of leaving the EU.

Other newspapers, such the Independent, have also made the referendum front page news, nearly four months ahead of the vote:

jm/jil (AP, AFP)