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During his tenure as Prime Minister from July 2019 until his resignation in September 2022, Boris Johnson navigated a unique relationship with Queen Elizabeth II. However, this dynamic, which has seen 15 Prime Ministers work with the Queen over her remarkable 70-year reign, wasn’t always smooth sailing for Johnson.

The Queen, having collaborated with a diverse array of leaders, from Winston Churchill to her last Prime Minister, Liz Truss, developed a keen understanding of the monarch-Prime Minister relationship. Johnson, like his predecessors, had to establish his connection with the Queen, told Mirror.

One crucial lesson Johnson quickly learned was the importance of thorough preparation before an audience with the Queen. As documented in a book by Hardman, during a period when Johnson’s government faced a lobbying scandal involving healthcare company Randox, he emerged from a meeting with the Queen expressing surprise at not being informed about Randox sponsoring the Grand National.

The scandal centered around Owen Paterson, who, as a paid consultant for Randox, began work in August 2015, seven months before being tasked with finding a new sponsor for the Grand National. Randox eventually signed a five-year sponsorship deal in March 2016. The parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, deemed Paterson’s actions an ‘egregious’ breach of rules on paid advocacy, leading to his resignation as an MP.

The Queen, known for her love of horses, was likely well-versed in Grand National matters. Still, her formidable knowledge extended beyond equestrian pursuits to a deep understanding of current affairs.

The narrative draws parallels with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s admission that the Queen often surpassed him in her grasp of current events. Brown recounted an instance in 2008 when the financial crash prompted the UK’s entry into recession. The Queen astutely questioned why the bankers had erred, highlighting her profound understanding of the country’s economic landscape.

Brown, who led the nation from 2007 to 2010, revealed how the Queen’s insight left him feeling ’embarrassed’ during their meetings. Her ability to listen, ask pertinent questions, and stay well-informed about global affairs, particularly within the Commonwealth, painted a picture of a monarch not only steeped in tradition but also deeply engaged with the challenges and developments of the modern world.

In essence, the intricate dance between the Prime Minister and the Queen, as exemplified by Boris Johnson’s experiences, underscores the delicate balance between tradition and the demands of contemporary governance within the United Kingdom’s constitutional framework.

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