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Why the Palace raised more than an eyebrow over David Cameron’s revelations

The palace has been left displeased by David Cameron's revelations. Credit: PA

How surprised should we be that the Queen’s Prime Minister reached out to her at a time when it looked like Scotland might actually vote for independence?

In many respects, we shouldn’t be. The Monarch and her Prime Minister regularly chew over the issues of the day, the decisions of the government and the state of the world.

What we should be more surprised by is that fact that one of the Queen’s former Prime Minister decided, in a television interview to publicise his book, to disclose the details of private conversations.

They took place between his office at Number 10 and the Monarch’s, at Buckingham Palace.

Private conversations between the Queen and David Cameron took place at No 10 and Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

In fact, I myself raised an eyebrow (to use David Cameron’s phrase of the day) when I first heard him talk about it as I woke up this morning.

It’s the job of any and every Prime Minister to ensure that The Queen remains above the political fray, to ensure she’s kept out of controversy and most of all, to ensure no one knows what she thinks.

Mr Cameron drove a coach and horses through that convention today.

Buckingham Palace has expressed its “displeasure” at the remarks - but I hear that’s a bit of an understatement.

Buckingham Palace is 'displeased' by David Cameron's remarks. Credit: PA

Because it put them - as well as Mr Cameron - in a tricky position.

The Queen said, in 2014, that the voters of Scotland should “think carefully about the future”, and, at the time, many wondered if she was gently intervening.

At the time the debate, on both sides of the border, about Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom, was extremely fraught (as we now know, that happens a lot with Yes/No or In/Out referenda).

We don’t actually know if The Queen uttered those words after David Cameron’s plea for help - or whether she uttered those words simply because she felt strongly about the future of the Union herself.

David Cameron said a poll predicting a Yes victory in the Scottish referendum 'panicked' him. Credit: PA

But we do know the pleas were made via the Queen’s Private Secretary who would have passed those concerns onto the Queen.

The matters of 2014 are not very dissimilar to those the Supreme Court is considering right now on whether the Queen’s current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, brought the Monarch into the Brexit debate by asking the Queen to suspend Parliament.

A Monarch has a right to be consulted, the right to warn and the right to encourage - so said the Victorian constitutionalist Walter Bagehot.

Perhaps we should add to that list that the Queen also has a right to expect her private conversations with her Prime Minsters, to remain private.