SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


Did the Jubilee booing prove to be the beginning of the end for Boris Johnson?

It’s only a month since the Jubilee but it seems the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of The Queen’s reign could be about to produce an unexpected legacy. The political career of Boris Johnson is teetering on the brink this evening and as Her Majesty contemplates the possibility of appointing the 15th Prime Minister of her rule, could it be that her Jubilee was the beginning of the ultimate end for the man they call BoJo?

Much was made, at the time, of the boos that rang through the streets of the City of London as the Prime Minister and his wife ascended the steep steps of St. Paul’s for the Service of Thanksgiving for The Queen’s reign. It was an unexpected event at celebrations that had been planned to the last detail. In fact, it was unprecedented. British crowds are known to express disappointment in many ways, including frosty silence which might be upgraded to obvious eye rolling with a hint of tutting. Outright booing is a no.

But there they were, in the early summer sunshine, a cavalcade of cat calls that merged together into a resonant act of rebellion. Boris carried on, he always does, but the damage was done. Prime Minister booed at Jubilee was the headline he hadn’t woken up expecting to face.

As was pointed out by many, Jubilee crowds aren’t known political agitators. Most people heading out to watch the spectacle of the celebrations are there to have a good time. Cheering is the order of the day, with a dash of bunting and possibly a curled up sandwich or three. Jubilees are about togetherness. The fact that the Prime Minister was booed, and most definitely, was a surprise and a sure fire indication that winning a popularity contest, or general election as they are sometimes known, wasn’t necessarily a shoe in for Boris.

And that was where the real damage was done. Those Tory MPs looking at slim majorities to defend in a general election could hear loud and clear that the man who intends to lead them into that ultimate political battle is, in diplomatic terms, having some trouble connecting with parts of the electorate. There are two years to go until the UK is due at the ballot box for the biggest vote of all but those MPs who need all the votes they can get are already working towards that date. They need and want to be firing on all party cylinders. Boos for the Prime Minister are a hard act to follow.

Soon after the Jubilee, Boris Johnson faced a vote of confidence in his leadership quickly followed by two by election defeats, including a record setting overhaul of a majority in one. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has quit along with the Health Secretary leaving the Prime Minister in a perilous position. This might be the greatest political escape story ever told but if Boris Johnson does now bow out, future historians will be tempted to see the Jubilee boos as a major moment.

British politics faces a turbulent time. When the final result is known, will the Jubilee prove to be the beginning of the end of Boris Johnson?

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.