Newspaper Says Queen Dismayed By Thatcher With Britain Commonwealth
LONDON (AP) _ The Sunday Times reported aides of Queen Elizabeth II have said the monarch is dismayed by many policies of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Buckingham Palace disputed the report, saying it was without foundation.
The newspaper said the political views of the 60-year-old queen were made known in several briefings by the queen’s advisers, who were aware the information would be published.
Under Britain’s constitution, the monarch must be non-political and such a revelation of the queen’s feelings would break with the confidentiality she has maintained throughout a 34-year-old reign and the governments of eight prime ministers.
The Sunday Times indicated the reason for such unprecedented information from the palace was Elizabeth’s deep concern for the surivival of the Commonwealth, which is in conflict over the refusal by Mrs. Thatcher’s Conservative Party government to impose severe sanctions on South Africa’s white-led government.
Britain’s monarch is titular head of the Commonwealth, the 49-nation association of Britain and its former colonies, and the queen has devoted much time and energy to the organization.
″It was made clear that the queen is not campaigning for economic sanctions″ against South Africa, the independent Sunday Times said. ″But she ... believes that a compromise must be reached between Thatcher and the other Commonwealth leaders.″
The newspaper also said the queen considers the prime minister’s approach to domestic policy often uncaring, confrontational and divisive. It did not identify the advisers it attributed the reports to, but said they specifically mentioned the queen’s misgivings about allowing U.S. bombers to use British air bases for their raid on Libya in April.
According to the newspaper, the aides also said the queen feared long-term damage was done to Britain’s social fabric during the year-long miner’s strike in 1983 and 1984, and the monarch felt the government lacked compassion toward the less-privileged.
After the first edition of The Sunday Times was published Saturday night, Buckingham Palace spokesman Michael Shea said: ″As with all previous prime ministers, the queen enjoys a relationship of the closest confidentiality with Mrs. Thatcher and reports purporting to be the queen’s opinions of government policies are entirely without foundation.″
Mrs. Thatcher’s 10 Downing St. office did not comment, abiding by the established position that relations between the sovereign and the prime minister are confidential.
Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil said he wasn’t surprised by the palace denial. ″I think what is said in public and what is said in private are two different things and the palace have to maintain their position,″ he said.
The conservative Sunday Telegraph said the queen ″will do nothing to embarrass Mrs. Thatcher over sanctions″ against South Africa.
It quoted unidentified government sources and others close to the royal family as saying reports about the alleged friction between the queen and Mrs. Thatcher on a personal and political level are exaggerated.
The two leaders get on well and the queen is generally supportive of the government’s domestic policy, the Sunday Telegraph said.