Brexit and the monarchy: How the royals have navigated Britain’s EU departure

The Queen has urged people to find “common ground”, in comments that have been interpreted as a veiled reference to the Brexit debate.

Here is a look at some of the occasions where the Queen and members of the royal family have been included in coverage of Britain’s departure from the EU.

Christmas message

The Queen was viewed as alluding to division in the country and Westminster in her 2018 Christmas message.

She said that, even with “the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding”.

First public comments

King Willem Alexander state visit to UK
King Willem Alexander state visit to UK

In October the Queen, who conventionally remains impartial on political matters, spoke publicly about Brexit for the first time.

Hosting King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his wife, Queen Maxima, at Buckingham Palace, she told a banquet that, “as we look toward a new partnership with Europe”, the values shared by the UK and Holland “are our greatest assets”.

The Queen added that as “innovators, traders and internationalists we look with confidence to the future”.

Royal tours

After Article 50 was triggered in March 2017, a series of visits to EU countries by royals were perceived as part of a Brexit diplomacy drive.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, visited Germany and Poland on a three-day tour.

Royal visit to Germany – Day One
Royal visit to Germany – Day One

William also headed to Finland on a solo trip, while the Duke of Sussex went to Denmark.

The Prince of Wales travelled to Romania on the day Article 50 was activated, while he also visited Ireland with the Duchess of Cornwall.

2017 State Opening of Parliament

Brexit featured heavily in the Queen’s speech following the June 2017 snap election.

The address, which was written by the Government, laid out the Brexit legislation that the Government intended to pass during the parliamentary session.

Some suggested that the Queen’s hat, which was blue with yellow floral details, resembled the flag of the European Union. The state opening was cancelled by the Government in 2018 to give MPs more time to scrutinise the laws.

State Opening of Parliament 2017
State Opening of Parliament 2017

‘Queen backs Brexit’

During the referendum campaign a major row broke out over a front-page story that stated the Queen supported EU withdrawal.

The Sun’s report said an anonymous source had told the paper she had voiced strong Eurosceptic views during a lunch in 2011 with the then-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

The former Liberal Democrat leader later said the suggestion the Queen had given him a “tongue lashing” about Europe was “preposterous”.

Civil Service Awards Reception – Buckingham Palace
Civil Service Awards Reception – Buckingham Palace

Sir Nick said then-justice secretary Michael Gove was behind the story.

Buckingham Palace lodged a formal complaint with the press watchdog about the report.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld the complaint on grounds of accuracy, although the Sun’s editor, Tony Gallagher, stood by the story.

Mr Gove did not explicitly deny being the source.

Later that year, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said she had also been told that the Queen supported Brexit, but did not report it as she could not find a second source to corroborate the claim.