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UK's Boris Johnson 'squared up' to future King, it is claimed

Pic: Charles was crowned King on Saturday

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a heated exchange last year with the then Prince Charles over criticism of the UK government's migrant deportation scheme, it has been claimed.

Johnson's former director for communications, Guto Harri, says the PM and Charles - now King Charles - “had a bit of a showdown” over a policy to deport migrants to Rwanda, a country in east-central Africa, and that Johnson "squared up" to the Prince.

Last year, according to anonymous news reports, the Prince privately expressed concern that the Rwanda policy was “appalling”. It was accepted at the time that Charles and his aides were content to have his private thoughts aired in the media.

Now Harri has disclosed, in a Daily Mail newspaper article and speaking to the LBC radio station, that Johnson and the King had a huge bust up over the issue at a Commonwealth summit last June.

Harri said Johnson told him, “I went in quite hard” on Charles and said it was not the job of unelected royalty to intervene on government policy. "Relations never fully recovered and Charles will be relieved that Boris had left No 10 before he ascended to the throne," Harri said. Charles was crowned King on Saturday in a coronation attended by Johnson.

Illegal immigration has become a political flashpoint in the UK, particularly the thousands of people making a 20-mile (33kms) journey in small boats across the English Channel from northern France. 

Successive UK prime ministers have vowed to stop the influx, with Johnson’s government agreeing a highly controversial deal with Rwanda to transfer some of them to the African country.

Harri claimed that during a Johnson-Charles meeting at last June's summit, held in the Rwandan capital Kigali, the Prince attempted to deny he had said the policy was “appalling”. Johnson’s reply was: “If you didn’t say it, we both know your people could ring the newspapers and kill the story. The fact they haven’t done that says it all.”

Their relationship was already on thin ice. Writing in the Daily Mail, Harri recalled the time he escorted Johnson, who was then the Mayor of London, to meet the future King. They arrived late, due to them having to take the London Underground metro. Johnson allegedly arrived “sweaty” and “panting”, and the Prince was apparently “unimpressed”, Harri writes. Johnson and Charles have differed on other issues, ranging from genetically modified foods to architectural designs. 

In the UK it is highly unusual for politicians and the media to disclose private conversations with close members of the Royal Family, and especially a future King. A source close to Johnson told the PA news agency that he disputed Harri’s account and that he deplored revelations about private matters.The source told PA: "Boris Johnson does not recognise this account and it is inaccurate. It does not accurately reflect any conversation. We would never comment on these matters and Mr Johnson deplores any attempt to do so."

By Christian Hotten

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