British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office has apologized to Buckingham Palace for two parties held the night before Prince Philip's funeral, when COVID-19 restrictions were in effect.
The Telegraph reported that Downing Street staff held two parties the night before Philip's funeral in April 2021, though Johnson was not there, according to BBC News. Restrictions were in place at the time calling for people to not socialize indoors with those outside their household or support bubble, and the U.K. was also in a period of mourning, BBC notes. Prince Philip's funeral the following day was scaled back due to the pandemic, with Queen Elizabeth II sitting alone as a result.
On Friday, Johnson's spokesperson apologized for the staff party, saying, "It's deeply regrettable that this took place at a time of national mourning and No. 10 has apologized to the palace," The Associated Press reports. One of the two parties was thrown for departing director of communications James Slack, who said Friday it "should not have happened at the time that it did," CNN reports.
Reports about the party before Philip's funeral came as Johnson was already under fire over a gathering of staffers in the back garden of 10 Downing Street for drinks in May 2020, when there were strict COVID-19 restrictions in place. "I know that people up and down the country have made huge sacrifices throughout this pandemic, and I understand the anger, the rage that they feel at the thought that people in Downing Street were not following those rules. ... I bitterly regret it and wish that we could have done things differently," Johnson said this week.
Johnson has been facing calls to resign over the revelations, with Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, tweeting, "The queen sitting alone, mourning the loss of her husband, was the defining image of lockdown. ... Whilst she mourned, No 10 partied. Johnson must go."