A new portrait of the Queen, or rather new photograph of her with the Prince of Wales, has been released to mark the end of her 90th birthday year. The photo was taken by fashion photographer Nick Knight at Windsor Castle last May. There was the usual range of opinions aired in reaction, but for one upstanding loyal Subject, there was only one possible reaction to such good news - to have a good grovel.
So it was that Michael “Oiky” Gove took to Twitter to announce “Long may she reign over us #GodSaveTheQueen”, proudly displaying the Union Flag to his followers. And to this, many may have thought “what a patriotic and loyal gesture”, while others may have instead dismissed it as standard Tory crawling. But rather a lot of those responding had picked up the rank and pungent whiff of hypocrisy.
Gove is very good at playing the loyal Subject, and praising Her Majesty. But what Her Majesty, and indeed the rest of the Royal Family, and anyone and everyone who works in their service at the Royal residences and elsewhere, knows is that “Oiky” might be good at grovelling, but he is equally adept at using the Queen for his own political ends, and that he has quite shamelessly done so all too recently.
Gove, who is, let us not forget, a Privy Counsellor, should, as part of that role, maintain the confidence placed in him by the Royal Family, and especially the Queen. But when the Sun ran its now infamous “QUEEN BACKS BREXIT” splash back in March, it became very obvious, very rapidly, that “Oiky” had been at the meeting where the Queen was alleged to have made the remarks that formed the basis of the paper’s story.
That this brave and principled individual was not answering calls in the days after the Sun ran its story was, you have to understand, mere coincidence. He was also nowhere to be seen when even sham press regulator IPSO was unable to wipe the Murdoch goons’ backsides and ordered them to publish a “correction”, which was placed as discreetly as possible, with editor Tony Gallagher saying he’d do it again, so there.
And then in November, Press Gazette finally told us what had been suspected for some time: “Gove’s lunch with Murdoch, News UK’s chief executive officer Rebekah Brooks and chief operating officer David Dinsmore and The Sun’s editor-in-chief Tony Gallagher and associate editor Trevor Kavanagh on 2 March – a week ahead of the [Queen Backs Brexit] story appearing on 9 March. The content of their discussions was not revealed”.
I’ll bet it wasn’t revealed. In any case, former Deputy PM Nick Clegg, who had also been at the meeting where the Queen was alleged to have said something about the EU which she probably didn’t say, had already fingered Gove as the Sun’s source. Clegg, with uncharacteristic restraint, told “I think it was very, very disrespectful of Michael Gove to have done that”. It was also a betrayal of Royal confidence, and an abuse of protocol.
So when “Oiky" Gove simpers “Long may she reign over us”, the response from Buck House ought to be to tell the ghastly little oik to Abite Turn and Shove Orf.
Michael Gove’s loyalty extends only as far as the next paycheque. No surprise there.