HARRY COLE: Prince Philip asked Jeremy Hunt’s Chinese-born wife ‘of which country?’ when she told him she was married to then health secretary

Contrary to reports suggesting Boris Johnson had grovelled to the Queen following his Supreme Court humiliation, the Prime Minister did not directly apologise to Her Majesty, merely expressing ‘regret’ at the situation.

The lack of a ‘sorry’ has left a simmering tension between Buckingham Palace courtiers and No 10.

Yet would relations have been any better had Jeremy Hunt, not Boris, won the Tory leadership election? Perhaps not.

Boris Johnson merely expressed 'regret' to the Queen following his Supreme Court humiliation (pictured at Buckingham Palace when the Queen invited him to become Prime Minister)

Boris Johnson merely expressed ‘regret’ to the Queen following his Supreme Court humiliation (pictured at Buckingham Palace when the Queen invited him to become Prime Minister)

Mr and Mrs Hunt tell a story of a Palace garden party when he was in charge of the NHS, and his Chinese wife Lucia was introduced to the notoriously gaffe-prone Duke of Edinburgh.

When she said she was married to the Health Secretary, Prince Philip asked ‘of which country?’, according to their retelling of the encounter.

Last night, Buckingham Palace declined to comment and a source close to Mrs Hunt denied the incident took place.

Mr and Mrs Hunt (pictured) tell a story of a Palace garden party when he was in charge of the NHS, and his Chinese wife Lucia was introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh. When she said she was married to the Health Secretary, Prince Philip allegedly asked ‘of which country?’

Mr and Mrs Hunt (pictured) tell a story of a Palace garden party when he was in charge of the NHS, and his Chinese wife Lucia was introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh. When she said she was married to the Health Secretary, Prince Philip allegedly asked ‘of which country?’

However senior Tory sources says the tale has been recounted on multiple occasions.

It would not be the first time Philip has cut up rough with Hunt – whom Lucia affectionately calls ‘Big Rice’. The Duke brusquely claimed he had never heard of the politician when they were introduced in a similar line-up in 2012 – despite him having been in the Cabinet for two years.

Dom disarms the Spartans! 

Before joining No 10, enforcer Dominic Cummings described the hardcore European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs a ‘narcissist-delusional subset’ that ‘spouts gibberish’ and ‘should be treated like a metastasising tumour and excised from the UK body politic’. So it was a surprise to see him deep in conversation with leading ERG rabble-rouser Mark Francois in the wee hours of Wednesday in the conference bar.

Cummings pictured leaving No.10 on October 3

ERG rabble-rouser Mark Francois

Dominic Cummings described the hardcore European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs a ‘narcissist-delusional subset’ before joining No.10 but has recently been spotted in conversation with the group’s Mark Francois

Dominic Cummings (left) in deep conversation with Mark Francois at the Midland Hotel in Manchester

Dominic Cummings (left) in deep conversation with Mark Francois at the Midland Hotel in Manchester

And the tete-a-tete, pictured above, seems to have worked. Despite Francois always claiming that dozens of the so-called ‘Spartan’ group would vote down any deal Boris Johnson cut with Brussels if it was too similar to Theresa May’s, by Wednesday afternoon he was on TV signalling his support.

  • Hapless ex-Cabinet Minister Chris Grayling is no less calamitous now he has been liberated from the pressures of Government. The clumsy Tory was spotted apologising profusely after spilling a plate of chicken, rice and pitta bread down himself at a reception for Arab ambassadors on Tuesday.
  • Tory bigwig John Hayes may be descended from trade union stock but he is a little grander than his forefathers these days. Arriving at a conference dinner on Sunday evening, the former Minister imperiously surveyed the table. Spotting his name place that simply said ‘John Hayes MP’ the Knight of the shire immediately extracted an expensive fountain pen from his well-cut suit, correcting the card to read Rt Hon Sir John Hayes MP, CBE.
  • Which BBC household name risks a major row with Downing Street after telling anyone who would listen at the Tory conference that Cummings was at death’s door? The PM’s top adviser delayed an operation to join No 10, leading to an entirely untrue wild conspiracy theory that was solemnly spread around the get-together by the very famous on-screen talent as the white wine flowed.

 Wild goose chase drives Paul loco… 

Transport Secretary Paul Maynard spent most of the Conservative Party conference studying the West Coast Main Line

Transport Secretary Paul Maynard spent most of the Conservative Party conference studying the West Coast Main Line

It’s often said the Government is out of touch with the realities of Britain’s creaking rail infrastructure, but Transport Minister Paul Maynard spent most of the Conservative Party conference studying the West Coast Main Line.

The junior Under-Secretary drew the short straw to return to Westminster on Monday morning to answer an Urgent Question in the Commons put down by Labour, despite having only arrived at the Manchester gathering the previous day.

Pulling into Euston he was promptly told the Speaker had ruled the Opposition stunt out of order, leaving Maynard to immediately head back north to complete his five-hour, 326-mile round trip at a cost of at least £350 to the taxpayer.  

  • Avoiding tax can be added to the growing rap sheet for tedious climate change protesters Extinction Rebellion. Their abortive attempt to douse the Treasury in red paint from an old fire engine backfired spectacularly last week when they lost control of the hose and ended up spraying themselves. Now DVLA records show the vehicle they used for the unintentionally hilarious stunt had no road tax. And given that no recent MoT results have been registered, the diesel wagon’s emissions records conveniently remain hidden.
DVLA records show the vehicle Extinction Rebellion used for dousing the Treasury in fake blood had no road tax

DVLA records show the vehicle Extinction Rebellion used for dousing the Treasury in fake blood had no road tax 

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