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Downing Street may ‘hijack’ Queen’s birthday celebrations over EU referendum

Fears have been raised that the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union may overshadow The Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, which take place just 11 days before the vote.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, their sources say that Downing Street could be trying to ‘hijack’ her birthday to boost the case for staying in the EU.

The sources continue that Her Majesty could come under pressure to show her support for Britain remaining in the EU as she celebrates her 90th milestone in June..

The birthday celebrations will involve an array of events to mark the occasion, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral as well as a street party which will be attended by 10,000 guests in The Mall.

There is concern that 10 Downing Street may try to spin the event though, with one source saying: “There is concern that she could be asked to drop a hint. The Palace is determined to protect the Queen this year.”

If a subtle hint was dropped within the celebrations, much controversy will follow.

The chairman of the Commons constitutional affairs select committee, Bernard Jenkin, said: “Any attempt to press-gang Her Majesty into any domestic political messaging would be a complete abuse.

“The Government already has questions to answer about Prince William’s speech. What he said was fine but the way Number 10 sought to spin his remarks was despicable.”

This follows a speech made by the Duke of Cambridge last month where he has been accused of promoting the European Union and the cause to remain a member.

In his speech, William said: “In an increasingly turbulent world, our ability to unite in common action with other nations is essential. It is the bedrock of our security and prosperity and is central to your work.

“Right now, the big questions with which you wrestle – in the UN, Nato, the Middle East and elsewhere – are predicated on your commitment to working in partnership with others.”

Kensington Palace denied that the Prince was endorsing the EU, although many people have interpreted it this way.

A palace spokesperson said: “This speech was not about Europe. He does not mention the word Europe once.”

It was a similar story in the run up to the Scottish referendum on independence in 2014, where The Queen urged Scots to “think very carefully about the future” on the eve of the referendum.

Again, Her Majesty never explicitly said that she wanted Scotland to remain a part of the UK, however, critics said it was a strong hint that she wanted this to be the case.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson denied the claims that Downing Street would try to get the Queen to speak up in support of the EU, saying: “This unsubstantiated speculation is categorically not true.”

Buckingham Palace has denied to comment.

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