Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson went head-to-head with Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn for the first of the debates in the run up to the December 12 election.
Among topics discussed were - of course, Brexit - as well as education, the NHS and the future of Scotland. But there was one additional area of debate that perhaps surprised viewers: the royal family. And according to an expert, Queen Elizabeth will not be happy that the monarchy was up for discussion.
At the end of the debate in a quick-fire round, presenter Julie Etchingham offered up the two party leaders some questions from viewers at home. The first of which was: "Do you think the royal family is fit for purpose?"
Jeremy Corbyn answered first, saying: "Needs a bit of improvement." Boris Johnson quickly followed, responding: "The institution of the Monarchy is beyond reproach".
The next question was also royal family related. In the wake of Prince Andrew's controversial Newsnight interview, which aired on Saturday night, a viewer asked: "Is Prince Andrew fit for purpose?" The interview saw the Prince fail to acknowledge any empathy for the victims of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as well as denying having any recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts (now Giuffre), the woman who claims they had sex three times in the past.
The Labour leader's response was: "Before we discuss Prince Andrew I think we should discuss the victims that are there because of what Epstein did. And I think there are very very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law. But the primary position ought to be the proper treatment of those people that have been victims of the most appalling behaviour by apparently Epstein and many others."
Johnson followed suit, adding: "All our sympathies should be obviously with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein. And the law must certainly take its course."
It's unusual for the royal family to be such a focus of a political debate, and ITV News' Royal Editor Chris Ship says he doesn't think it will go down very well with the monarch. In a tweet posted shortly after the debate aired, Ship wrote:
"Given the Royal Family sits above politics and seeks to steer clear of entering the political debate - especially at election time - they will not have enjoyed becoming part of the #johnsonvcorbyn TV debate."
Given the Royal Family sits above politics and seeks to steer clear of entering the political debate - especially at election time - they will not have enjoyed becoming part of the #johnsonvcorbyn TV debate. #PrinceAndrew— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) November 19, 2019
The royal family - and particularly the Queen - is famously impartial when it comes to politics. On their official website, it explains that "as Head of State The Queen has to remain strictly neutral with respect to political matters. By convention, The Queen does not vote or stand for election, however Her Majesty does have important ceremonial and formal roles in relation to the government of the UK."
Because the Queen meets regularly with the Prime Minister, it would be inappropriate to have any public leaning which is why they try to stay out of politics. But on this occasion, it seems it's beyond her control to be dragged into the conversation...
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