There are of course a number of subjects it is wise to avoid raising when visiting the Queen (Bolshevik revolutions and Jeffrey Epstein come swiftly to mind). Insiders say there is now a fresh topic to skip: the Sussexes.
The well-connected British parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts has claimed that a guest of Her Majesty who had been invited to ride out with her was quietly advised to avoid mentioning Harry and Meghan.
The Sun, building on the story, reports Monday that a source said: “Courtiers were aware the Sussexes are all anyone wants to ask her about. So to nip it in the bud some have taken to having a quiet word with some guests awaiting an audience with the Queen.
“They suggested that questions around Harry and Meghan may not be the best choice as a topic of polite conversation. Naturally it’s informal rather than any official policy and there’s no suggestion the Queen is even aware.”
While official sources sought to play down the reports, telling the Sun that the “veracity” of the story was questionable, there is in fact a well-established tradition of courtiers quietly hinting appropriate conversational topics to visitors to the Queen (and Prince Charles, who is known to dislike being contradicted) as well as briefing visitors on some of the more arcane points of regal etiquette (you don’t turn your back on the monarch, for example, and all women are expected to curtsy to her).
One of the most famous dramatic interpretations of this custom is the scene in the Peter Morgan-penned film The Queen, which sees new Prime Minister Tony Blair receiving a brief and quick-fire run-down of what to do and what not to do before he goes in to see the Queen after winning the election.
However the briefing is incomplete: Blair kneels before her and is about to ask her permission to form a government when the Queen, played by Helen Mirren, interrupts him to say, “No, I ask.”