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UK Politics

Palace bans Nick Griffin from palace garden party

BNP party leader Nick Griffin was denied entry to an afternoon tea party with the Queen earlier today after Buckingham Palace accused the far-right MEP of using his invite for political purposes.

Officials at the Palace rescinded Mr Griffin’s invitation just hours before he was due to attend this afternoon’s event alongside his wife Jackie, two other family members and 8,000 other guests.

Last year Mr Griffin turned down an invitation to attend a tea party as a guest of former BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook arguing that his presence would “embarrass” the monarch. This year he appeared to have no such qualms.

But in a statement released shortly after 1pm, Buckingham Palace revealed that BNP leader would be banned from the summer party because he “overtly used his personal invitation for party political purposes” through the media.

The statement added: “This in turn has increased the security threat and the potential discomfort to the many other guests also attending.”

Within an hour of the invitation being rescinded, Mr Griffin began touring television studios dressed in the morning suit he would have worn to the party. The Independent spoke to the BNP leader by telephone as he was on the way to the BBC.

“Neither I nor my office had anything from [Buckingham Palace], I heard it from the press,” he said. “I am surprised. I’ve supposedly broken some rules but I’m looking at the set of rules which were sent out in advance and they’re very basic ones about dress, not bringing cameras and where to park. There’s nothing at all about not speaking to the media.”

Mr Griffin, whose party suffered a string of defeats in this year’s general election and failed to win a seat in Parliament, was allowed to nominate himself for tickets to one of the three summer parties held at Buckingham Palace because he is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

Anti-fascist groups, however, condemned the Palace’s decision to award the far-right leader an invitation to a summer party where he would have mingled with the likes of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of York.

Palace officials would not confirm what had triggered their decision but it is thought that a blog Mr Griffin wrote for the BNP website may have been primarily to blame for the ban.

Yesterday the BNP leader posted an entry asking members for suggestions of what he should say to the Queen should he meet her.

Trumpeting his upcoming presence at a royal garden party he wrote: “Who would have believed it ten, or even three, years ago. Remember the Establishment thought us no more than an annoying fringe party back then, they laughed at us and sometimes it hurt us, I know. One thing’s for sure, they’re not laughing now.”

Although the majority of replies were favourable towards the monarchy, others were critical of the Queen and Mr Griffin’s decision to meet her.

One responder, using the name “Indrid Cold”, criticised the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for visiting a market in Brixton, an inner-city suburb of London with a large black population.

“It is not good to see the British National Party attaching itself to the Royal bandwagon,” the post read. “Bluntly, The BNP does not need the monarchy but the monarchy does need the BNP. That is the way it is. Maybe the monarchy have realised that fact.”

Another responder, writing under the name “39bello”, wrote: “Well done Nick but will meeting the queen [sic] change anything. Surely she has been watching the white people in london turn asian and black over the years. She has done absolutely nothing to stop it happening.”

Mr Griffin said he could not understand why Palace officials might have taken exception to his blog.

“Clearly the powers that be were waiting for an excuse,” he said. “The rules have just been invented especially for me, which I find astounding.”

Although Mr Griffin was banned from the party it was not clear whether his guests would also be unwelcome at the tea party. Palace officials confirmed to The Independent that Andrew Brons, the BNP’s other MEP, was still welcome to attend but they stressed that Mr Griffin would not be welcome.

“The decision to deny him entry is not intended to show any disrespect to the democratic process by which the invitation was issued,” the spokesperson said. “However, we would apply the same rules to anyone who tried to blatantly politicise their attendance in this way.”