09 September 2023

PM describes first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II as career ‘highlight’

09 September 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has described his first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II as one of the “highlights” of his time in Government.

Mr Sunak said he had a private meeting with the Queen to discuss the budget shortly after he was first made Chancellor in 2020.

He said that he was “stressed” at the prospect.

“I was stressed anyway, so that didn’t help my stress levels.

“But then I went along, and I remember it actually. I showed up thinking it would just be a general chat and then one of the people at the palace said to me, ‘You’re the first chancellor who has come here without your big red folder’, and they said this literally before I walked into the room.

“I thought, ‘Yikes, is she going to ask me about some borrowing number in 2027/28?’

“Thankfully, without betraying too many confidences, that was not the primary focus.”

He said he will “never forget” that first meeting.

“That was my first kind of audience, as such, privately with her and I will never forget that,” he said.

“One of the highlights of the time I’ve been in government is that time spent with her, just talking about the economy and the country, because she had the most amazing historical perspective, having seen dozens of chancellors over the years and all the ups and downs of the British economy.

“She had a great perspective on that which actually gave me confidence and she was also very funny about things.”

Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at her Balmoral home aged 96 on September 8 last year after serving as sovereign for 70 years.

The Prime Minister added the UK needs a way to “more permanently” recognise her contribution to the country.

“We should obviously think about more permanently the right way to recognise, celebrate everything that she did for our country.”

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