British King Charles III. and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor Castle, England on February 27, 2023.
London – The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, met the British King Charles III at Windsor Castle today. The meeting had already become a target of criticism due to the fact that the British monarch should, according to custom, remain neutral when it comes to such topics, Reuters wrote. In this context, Sunak's spokesman denied that the government would try to involve the king in politics.
Von der Leyen visited the British monarch after meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, during which they reached a new agreement regarding the so-called Northern Ireland protocol. They had tea together and posed for photographers.
Windsor Castle is about 32 kilometers west of London. According to Buckingham Palace, the meeting was held on the advice of the government, which Sunak's critics seized on, saying the prime minister was trying to drag the monarch into political squabbles. “I can't believe the Prime Minister would ask the King to be involved in finalizing a controversial deal like this,” Northern Ireland's long-serving First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted.
Former British minister, Brexit Secretary and Sunak's colleague from the Conservative Party, Jacob Rees-Mogg, in turn, said that the monarch should be involved in the whole process only when “everything is finalized and accepted”. At the same time, the parliament has not yet dealt with the agreement. “I don't think His Majesty should get involved until this deal has full support,” Rees-Mogg said.
Sunak's spokesman Max Blain said the government would never involve the king in politics. “His Majesty recently met with a number of foreign leaders,” the spokesman added, mentioning, for example, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky. “In this case, it's exactly the same,” he added.
However, as the royal correspondent of the Sky News television station also noted regarding the controversy surrounding the meeting, it is the timing of the meeting that is important. With King Charles III. because von der Leyen met only a few minutes after she spoke at a press conference with Rishi Sunak. “It might seem to some that the king is showing in this way that he supports the agreement,” said Laura Bundock.