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‘He’s full of…’: What the Queen and PM said about ‘poor man’ Matt Hancock

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The Queen and Boris Johnson have held their first face-to-face weekly audience since the pandemic began and one of the hot topics was the health secretary.

During their meeting at Buckingham Palace, part of which was filmed, the monarch told the prime minister: “I’ve just been talking to your secretary of state for health – poor man. He came for Privy Council. He’s full of…”

Without letting Her Majesty finish her sentence, Mr Johnson jumped in with the reply: “Full of beans.”

Unfazed, the Queen continued on her track, saying: “He thinks that things are getting better.”

The prime minister replied: “They are. In the sense that we’re…”

The pair’s discussion about the health secretary comes after Mr Johnson was revealed as calling him “hopeless” in messages shared by Dominic Cummings.

Mr Cummings, the prime minister’s former top adviser, has said Mr Hancock should have been fired over coronavirus failings and “criminal, disgraceful behaviour” on a testing target.

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The Queen and Mr Johnson have been conducting their audiences over the telephone since the UK outbreak began last year.

The Queen held her audience with the PM for the first time since the pandemic began
Image: Boris Johnson and the Queen met at Buckingham Palace today

But the monarch, wearing a lilac dress, welcomed Mr Johnson to her private audience room on Wednesday. Her black handbag could be seen perched on a nearby chair.

“Good afternoon. It’s very nice to see you again,” the monarch said with a broad smile.

Mr Johnson said: “Lovely to see you again. It’s been 15 months.”

The Queen replied: “Has it really? 15 months. It’s most extraordinary, isn’t it?”

The exchange comes after Her Majesty was seen joking with world leaders at the G7 summit earlier this month.

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Queen jokes with G7 leaders during photocall

As the Queen and the leaders posed for a “family photo”, the monarch lightheartedly asked: “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”

The G7 summit was the last time the Queen and Mr Johnson were together in person, but they last held a face-to-face weekly audience on 11 March 2020.

They switched to speaking over the telephone a week later as the Queen prepared to socially distance herself at Windsor Castle.

She retreated to the Berkshire royal residence into what was dubbed HMS Bubble with the Duke of Edinburgh just before England went into its first national lockdown.

Boris and the Queen met at Buckingham Palace today
Image: Her Majesty spoke to the prime minister in her private audience room

Mr Johnson and the Queen were pictured speaking by phone from Downing Street and Windsor on 25 March last year.

Her in-person meeting with the prime minister today is believed to be the first time she has been at Buckingham Palace for six weeks.

The Queen was at the palace when she attended the state opening of parliament in May.

Much has happened politically and personally for the Queen and the prime minister since their last face-to-face audience.

The Queen
Image: The Queen is seen on the phone to Boris Johnson in the early days of the pandemic

Philip – the Queen’s husband of 73 years – died aged 99 in April.

The monarch has also been facing the long fallout from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure and the repercussions from Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview.

Mr Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020 just over two weeks after his final in-person audience with the Queen, but Her Majesty stayed in good health.

The prime minister was later admitted to intensive care and credited NHS staff for saving his life.

In April 2020, he celebrated the arrival of his baby son Wilfred, and last month he and his fiancee Carrie Symonds married in secret at Westminster Cathedral.