Did Boris Johnson ‘square up’ to King Charles over Rwanda policy? What happened between former PM and monarch
The former Prime Minister's aide has claimed Boris Johnson and King Charles butted heads over the new monarch’s reported criticisms of the government’s controversial Rwanda policy
Boris Johnson reported “squared up” to the newly-crowned King Charles over the government’s controversial Rwanda policy during a Commonwealth meeting last year, according to the former Prime Minister’s aide.
The Rwanda policy, introduced by former Home Secretary Priti Patel, will see asylum seekers who arrive in the UK via methods like small boats crossing the Channel sent to the African country while their application is considered. The plans have been branded cruel by critics, with the then-Prince Charles reportedly calling the policy “appalling”.
The monarch's comments were leaked to the media last summer. His press team did not deny the claims.
The Prime Minister at the time appears to have been slighted by Charles’ opinion. Guto Harri, Johnson’s former director of communications, has now said that he left Charles “squirming” after confronting him last summer.
What allegedly happened between Boris Johnson and King Charles?
Mr Harri said that the pair butted heads during a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda in June 2022. It was reported in the media days earlier that, according to a source close to Charles, the then-Prince of Wales was “disappointed” by the policy.
The former Prince allegedly labelled the government’s stance on the issue as “appalling”, adding that he was “not impressed with the government’s direction of travel”.
The former Number 10 director of communications said that Johnson laid into Charles “quite hard” on the issue during the Commonwealth meeting. Speaking to LBC, he added: “The impression I got is that Prince Charles at the time was squirming, trying to deny he’d said this.”
The root of the issue appeared to be that Charles’ press team had not attempted to reach out to news outlets to kill the story. Mr Harri said that this is common for “an army of people” representing the royals to call for a story to be taken down on the basis of it being untrue.
He added: “The fact that the story was allowed to stand and could not be denied meant that he had actually described government policy as appalling.”
Mr Harri also wrote about the alleged confrontation in the Daily Mail. He said Johnson told him “I went in quite hard... essentially squaring up to the prince and confronting him about what he – as un-elected royalty – had said about the actions of a democratically elected government.”
Johnson’s director of communications also said that he had advised against Charles making a speech about his regret over slavery and the British Empire’s role in the practice, with Johnson allegedly stating that it could result in a demand for financial reparations from countries affected. The royal would indeed go on to make the speech at the Rwanda summit, in which he described the “depths of his personal sorrow” at the suffering caused by slavery.
What has Boris Johnson said about the meeting?
Johnson, who attended the King’s coronation on 6 May, has denied the claims made by Mr Harri, calling his recollection “inaccurate”. This is despite the fact that Mr Harri is known to be a longstanding, strong ally of the former PM.
He said that during the Commonwealth summit, he and the former Prince of Wales had a “good old chinwag” which “covered a lot of ground”. He did not detail what the two spoke about in their conversation.