Republican Corbyn snubs Privy Council meeting with Queen for ‘prior commitment’

Britain's Queen Elizabeth © Paul Hackett
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has turned down a ceremonial meeting with the Queen held to admit opposition leaders to Britain’s medieval Privy Council.

He was unable to come on that date due to a prior commitment, and he is going to be offered an invitation on another day,” Corbyn’s spokesman said in a statement.

The ceremony to join the 600-strong council involves getting down on one knee, kissing the Queen’s hand and uttering an oath to the monarch. It is traditional procedure for new leaders of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Corbyn, a longstanding republican, has previously said he needed to consider whether or not he would take part in such a ceremony.

His spokesman did not disclose the nature of Corbyn’s prior engagement, or whom it was with.

British media reported that it is possible to be formally inducted into the Privy Council without taking part in the archaic ceremony with the Queen.

It is common practice that people can join the Privy Council using a mechanism known as an “Order of Council,” though it is rare for party leaders to exercise that option.

A number of current members of the council have attacked Corbyn over his decision not to attend the ceremony, despite his spokesman’s claim it had merely been rearranged.

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It is a snub for the Queen in the sense that she is a constitutional monarch and she represents the constitutional way in which we do business,” Tory MP Keith Simpson told the Telegraph.

Firstly it is deeply insulting, and secondly it is not grown up – not to go to see the monarch is just extraordinary,” one MP told the pro-royalist newspaper on condition of anonymity.

If he refuses membership of the Privy Council, Corbyn would be the first leader of a major political party to do so. In theory, he would not be entitled to certain security and intelligence briefings, though the precise nature of those briefings remains unclear.