- Downing Street staff reportedly held two lockdown-breaking parties on the eve of Prince Phillip’s funeral.
- According to The Telegraph, about 30 people gathered at the complex for leaving parties in April.
- The UK had strict restrictions on the size of gatherings at the time the parties reportedly took place.
Staff at 10 Downing Street held two boozy good-bye parties for departing staff members on the eve of Prince Phillip’s funeral last spring, The Telegraph reported Thursday.
The two “leaving” parties were held on the evening of April 16, 2021, and carried on late into the night as Downing staff consumed excessive alcohol, danced to music, and flouted the UK’s pandemic gathering restrictions, the outlet reported.
The report comes as Downing Street and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson face an onslaught of criticism over reports of several lockdown-breaking parties held at the complex throughout 2020. The April gatherings are the first reported parties held in 2021.
At the time of the going-away parties, UK residents were under orders not to socialize indoors with people outside of their own household or support bubble. Outdoor gatherings were limited to groups of six people or two households.
But Downing Street sources told The Telegraph that the two April parties, which were initially held in separate parts of the building, were attended by nearly 30 people after both gatherings combined.
The first party was for James Slack, former director of communications for Johnson, and was held in the Downing Street garden, according to the outlet. The second gathering was in honor of one of Johnson’s personal photographers, and was primarily attended by younger staff members in the No. 10 basement — a room with limited ventilation, The Telegraph reported.
The basement gathering was “undeniably a party”, according to the outlet, with music blasting and at least one staff member sent on an alcohol run to a Co-op down the road. One attendee told The Telegraph that people began to worry too much wine was being spilled on the basement carpet amid the dancing.
As the evening progressed, the two parties eventually merged in the garden, where the drinking reportedly continued into the early hours of the morning.
Johnson, who has come under fire for attending a BYOB gathering at Downing Street with nearly 40 staffers in May 2020, was not present at the April 2021 parties, according to the outlet. The prime minister had already departed for his country home for the weekend.
The parties preceded Prince Phillip’s Saturday funeral, in which Queen Elizabeth sat in the church completely alone to say goodbye to her husband of 73 years amid ongoing social distancing rules. Mourners were instructed to forgo leaving flowers for the late Duke to avoid the threat of COVID-19, and an online condolence book was created to lessen the risk of transmission.
A spokesperson for 10 Downing Street did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Earlier this week, Johnson acknowledged his presence at the May 2020 gathering for the first time, apologizing for having attended the event. However, the prime minister insisted that he believed the function to be a work event — an oft-repeated defense in the wake of these allegations that a senior civil servant is now investigating.
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