Pope’s Funeral/Royal Wedding
Asked if the Prime Minister would be attending the Pope’s funeral, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) confirmed that the Prime Minister would be attending. Asked if Mrs Blair was attending and whether there had been discussions between Downing Street and Clarence House, the PMOS said that in terms of Mrs Blair we would let people know nearer the time and in terms of discussions it was obvious that we had asked to be kept informed but the decision on the wedding had been one for Clarence House, and one for Clarence House alone to take. Asked if Downing Street indicated that the Pope’s funeral might be regarded as a more important event, the PMOS said that he would put it the other way round, Clarence House were fully aware of the significance of the Pope’s funeral and therefore it was part of the decision making process, though it was for Clarence House to speak for itself. Asked if the Prince of Wales would be attending the funeral, the PMOS said that his understanding was the Prince was attending but again that was a matter for Clarence House to confirm.
Asked if it was constitutionally required that the Prime Minister attended the funeral or whether it was just that he personally really wanted to attend, the PMOS said that in terms of the response to the death of the Pope and in terms of what the Prime Minister said on Saturday and again yesterday, it was the Prime Minster’s view that the Pope was as a truly world figure who had made an historic contribution to the world. It was also clear in the way in which others countries had said that they would be represented at the funeral as well. So in terms of the significance of the Pope’s death that was clear. When you had a Pope who had served as long as this Pope had done, when you had a Pope who was revered publicly world wide as this Pope was and who had made a clear contribution to the future of the world then this Prime Minister believed it was the right thing to do. Asked again whether it was a constitutional requirement, the PMOS said that, as he understood it on previous occasions that had not been the precedent.
Asked if on Saturday the Prime Minister was still attending the same bit of the Royal wedding as previously imagined for Friday, the PMOS said that was correct. He would be attending the blessing in the Chapel, whatever the position was previously it was unchanged other than the date. However at this stage Clarence House had yet to announce publicly further details. Asked when the Prime Minister decided that he was going to the Pope’s funeral, PMOS said that in terms of the decision a decision had not had to be made until Clarence House had announced the postponement of the wedding.
In response to the suggestion ITN that this was a belittling of the Royal Family and the heir to the throne, the PMOS said that it was Clarence House who had taken the decision to postpone the wedding and they had done so, in their own words, because of the sensitivities surrounding other events, in other words the Pope’s funeral. Accordingly the Prime Minister was glad that he was able to attend both events. Asked if there was contact between Clarence House and Downing Street in advance of the decision, the PMOS said, as he had earlier, that we had asked to be kept informed about what the decision was going to be, but it was very much their decision.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
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