Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has revealed the contents of a mysterious note she was handed in the House of Commons on the day Queen Elizabeth II died.
The note, handed over to Ms Rayner and prime minister Liz Truss during an intense debate on the energy crisis in the parliament, grabbed everyone’s attention.
It was widely suspected that it communicated something about the Queen’s health. Moments after TV cameras and journalists caught wind of the note, the country learned that the UK’s longest-reigning monarch was under medical supervision at Balmoral.
Now, the Labour leader has broken her silence on the contents of the note in The News Agents podcast on Wednesday.
She said the letter stated the news of the Queen’s worsening health in “plain English” and she described the tension that gripped her as television cameras were running.
Ms Rayner struggled to get the attention of Labour leader Keir Starmer, who was, at the time, responding to the government’s energy statement and the cost of living crisis.
“The Queen is unwell and Keir needs to leave the chamber as soon as possible to be briefed,” the letter said, according to Ms Rayner.
“I was trying to get the note to [Starmer] without being too dramatic, but also not knowing exactly what was going on, but [that] I needed to get him out of the chamber,” she said.
“I kept the note and I was trying to think, how am I going to get it to Keir without totally ruining what he’s trying to say, because if someone is trying to give you information when you’re in the middle of speaking it’s the most distracting thing, so I was waiting for the opportunity to do it.”
Ms Rayner said that while the note only mentioned the Queen was unwell, she “read between the lines” and knew the urgency of the situation.
“You don’t get a note saying the Queen is unwell if she’s got a bit of a cough or a cold,” she told the podcast.
The Ashton-under-Lyne MP later signalled to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker that she needed to speak to Mr Starmer, who indicated this to the Labour leader.
He was later briefed about the Queen’s health at around noon. Ms Rayner said she also understood it was important for Mr Starmer to be briefed before the news of the Queen’s condition became public knowledge.
“If Keir was at full throttle when the news broke, then I haven’t protected him from the circumstances.”