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UK Press Briefing: 11am Thursday 10 February 2005

Press Briefing: 11am Thursday 10 February 2005

Briefing from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman on: Prince of Wales Marriage and North Korea/nuclear weapons.

Prince of Wales Marriage

Asked what the Prime Minister's response to the Prince of Wales's announcement about his forthcoming marriage, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said he was delighted by the news and would be passing on the best wishes of the Cabinet.

Asked how the Prime Minister had been involved, and how long had he known about the announcement in advance for, the PMOS said the Prime Minister had known for some time, but had only informed a very few people. The PMOS said that "the number of people in No10 who knew of this were fewer than the fingers of one hand, and that remained the position until this morning". Any suggestion that there was a leak from No10 was categorically wrong.

Asked if Alastair Campbell was one of the fingers on that hand, the PMOS said the only people who had been told were working within No10.

Asked if the Prime Minister had given constitutional consent to the marriage, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had offered his advice, and Ministers had been consulted about the legal aspects.

Put to him that if Ministers had to offer legal advice, then surely more people outside No10 must have known about the announcement as well, the PMOS replied that the people who knew about it were within No10, and some people were consulted in their relevant legal role.

Asked again that therefore more people outside No10 must have known, the PMOS said that out of necessity, Ministers had to be consulted in their official legal capacity.

Asked what had been discussed by the Ministers, the PMOS said he could not talk about legal advice. This was a matter for the Palace.

Asked what legal advice was needed, the PMOS said people could speculate for themselves about what the legal advice might be, but conventionally, he would not discuss it.

Asked about the legislation behind the marriage, the PMOS said that it was a matter for the Palace.

Asked repeatedly about the various legal and legislative matters regarding the marriage, the PMOS said he could not answer them, and they were a matter for the Palace. He was not going to talk about legal advice in any way.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be offering advice to the Prince of Wales regarding his marriage, in much the same way as John Major offered advice when the Prince of Wales was separating from the Princess of Wales, the PMOS said he thought people would understand that he was not going to brief in any way about private conversations between the Prime Minister and the Palace.

Asked if the Leader of the House would be saying anything about the marriage announcement later this afternoon, the PMOS said: no. It was a business statement, and nothing more.

Asked why the Prime Minister would not be making a statement to the House, the PMOS said it did not require one.

Asked what Cabinet had said upon hearing the announcement, the PMOS said they had all expressed their best wishes.

Asked if the Prime Minister would be a guest at the wedding, the PMOS said the guest list was matter for the Palace.

Asked if the Prime Minister had known about the date of the wedding, the PMOS said it was a matter for the Palace.

Asked again about the timing of the announcement, the PMOS replied that for whatever reason, it was becoming public, and the Palace had confirmed it this morning. Again, it was a matter for the Palace.

Asked to confirm that the Evening Standard had been the first to correctly pick up on the marriage announcement story, the PMOS replied it had correctly attributed the story to a source in the Royal Household, and it was indeed a Standard scoop! At this point in Lobby, the journalist said thank you, and hurried out! The PMOS asked if this behaviour was in keeping with lobby rules!!

Asked again about how many knew about the Prince of Wales's forthcoming marriage, and did Alastair Campbell know, the PMOS repeated that not only did he not speak for Alastair Campbell, but also very few people knew about the announcement. Those who did know were within No10, with the exception of those Ministers who constitutionally had to be involved.

Asked again why the Prime Minister was not giving a statement, and what would he say in response about the announcement, the PMOS replied that there was a limited amount that the Prime Minister could say about it. This was a matter for the Palace, and involved legal matters that were being handled by the usual conventions. The PMOS asked that people were not surely requesting that those conventions were breached by holding a discussion about the legal advice. He said again that the discussions held with the Palace remained private.

Asked if Mrs Parker Bowles would become the "Second People's Princess", the PMOS said the journalist should wait for a briefing from a Palace correspondent.

Asked about the Prime Minister's appearance on "Richard and Judy" later today, and would they discuss the marriage announcement, the PMOS said it was a matter for Richard and Judy. He added that he thought they might want to discuss the Prime Minister's thoughts about the wedding! The Prime Minister would not have very much to say about the wedding, as there was not much he could say about it.

Asked if the Prime Minister had held discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the PMOS replied he would not reveal private conversations.

North Korea/nuclear weapons

Asked about North Korea's claims about having nuclear weapons, and their decision to pull out of the Six Nation Talks, the PMOS said he would need to find out more information before answering.


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