‘(Those) were for the corgis!’ Ex-British MP ate dog biscuits during lunch with Queen
Alan Johnson, then the health secretary, revealed for a new book how he unwittingly munched on the dog food at Windsor Castle in 2008
LONDON — A cabinet minister who visited the Queen on the day after the verdict of the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, accidentally ate biscuits meant for Her Majesty’s corgis, according to a new book.
Alan Johnson, then the health secretary, revealed how he inadvertently munched on the dog food following a meal at Windsor Castle – the day after the Diana inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing in 2008.
According to Queen of Our Times, the latest book by former Daily Telegraph journalist Robert Hardman, the former Labour MP had no idea until after he left the lunch with Paul Murphy, then the Welsh secretary.
The book reads: “Johnson mentioned that he had particularly enjoyed the cheese and the unusual dark biscuits. Paul said ‘No, the dark biscuits were for the corgis!’ At that point – to Alan Johnson’s eternal amusement – it dawned on him that he had been munching away on dog snacks. ‘I don’t think I’d had cheese with a Bonio biscuit before’.”
The ministers had both attended a Privy Council meeting before being invited to stay for lunch by the Queen.
Recalling how the papers were “full of the latest news on the Diana inquest” Johnson told Hardman he thought he should “steer well clear” of that subject.
The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, citing chauffeur Henri Paul’s “gross negligence” and the “speed and manner” of the pursuing paparazzi.
The judge ruled there was “no shred of evidence” to connect the crash to the secret services, let alone the Royal family. An 18-month French judicial investigation, involving 200 witnesses, had already come to the same conclusion.
In the book, Johnson adds: “The dominant news was about Diana. Paul and I thought we’d better keep off the subject. But the Queen talked about it in the most frank way.”
Describing how he and Murphy were seated either side of the Queen, while the other end of the table was “full up with Army people”, Johnson said they had some “easy-going chat over drinks in the Grand Reception Room before the mood became “even livelier” at the table.
“At lunch, we had a whale of a time,” he told Hardman. “She was good company. It was as if you’d known her for years. Obviously, there were the caveats that you understood – you don’t put your arm on her shoulder and say, ‘Let me tell you…’ and so on.”
As a Privy Counsellor, he wouldn’t go into details, beyond saying that it was a perfectly natural, pleasant conversation. The informality continued right to the end, as the Queen chatted and fed snacks to her corgis.