New Times,
New Thinking.

As the nation mourns, Team Truss plays up the PM’s role in proceedings

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

The death of the country’s longest-reigning monarch is viewed as a “manageable level of crisis” by the late Queen’s shortest-serving prime minister. Liz Truss, clinging to King Charles III’s coat-tails on visits to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, hopes to appear stateswoman-like. One of Truss’s team compared her curtsying and head-bobbing to Gordon Brown’s acclaimed handling of flooding, a foot-and-mouth outbreak and the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack during the earliest days of his own reign. Perhaps somebody should nudge Truss and remind her Brown’s honeymoon was short-lived.

Boris Johnson’s particularly eloquent response on the evening of the Queen’s death, explained a disgruntled informant, suspiciously echoed the Downing Street response prepared for whoever was PM. The hastily written reaction from Truss didn’t soar as high.

Keir Starmer’s office provoked upset in the shadow cabinet in the hours after Buckingham Palace’s announcement that doctors were worried about the Queen’s health. Following the Labour leader’s statement in response, shadow ministers were told not to say anything themselves. Frontbenchers noisily complained that their silence was deafening while Tory ministers were able to express their concern. The gag was lifted, demonstrating the value of solidarity.

The new King’s relative informality in his previous role as heir contrasted sharply, according to one cabinet minister, with the pomposity of the Duke of York in his own previous role as an active royal. The then Prince of Wales liked a chummy “Dear Charles” atop handwritten notes for his attention. The duke’s office, meanwhile, returned a “Dear Andrew”-headed note with the instruction such correspondence should only be addressed “Your Royal Highness”. What goes around comes around, heckled Andy?

David Cameron harboured fears that Charles was a Liberal Democrat during the coalition era. As PM in the early 2010s, he’d moan to Nick Clegg that Charles regurgitated green policies almost identical to those of his coalition partners. Ming Campbell discovered the same during royal chats, and was convinced Chas was a closet Lib Dem. All that was missing were socks with sandals.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

One peer with secret republican tendencies described gushing tributes in the House of Lords as “excruciating”. In one speech, the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who sits as Lord Carey of Clifton, inadvertently referred to Richard III rather than Charles III. Hansard corrected the slip of the tongue but, murmured my snout, with strikes rocking the country, presumably the ’bish believes now is the winter of our discontent.

[See also: Liz Truss is putting dogma before good government]

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy

This article appears in the 14 Sep 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Succession