Key revelations from Liz Truss’s memoir: Meeting the Queen, fleas in No.10 and an I-told-you-so

The first excerpt of her book, titled Ten Years to Save the West, made several candid confessions including that she did not listen to the Queen’s advice

Athena Stavrou
Monday 15 April 2024 23:45 BST
Liz Truss arrives at Balmoral Castle to visit the Queen

Details of her first and last meeting with the late Queen and fleas being in No. 10 are among the stories revealed in Liz Truss’ new memoir.

The first excerpt of her book, titled Ten Years to Save the West, made several candid confessions including how her husband predicted how her short premiership would end in tears and that she did not listen to the Queen’s advice.

The bombshell revelations include that she spent several of her six weeks as prime minister “itching” because Downing Street was “infested” with the pests.

In extracts from the book published by the Daily Mail, Truss admitted she went into “a state of shock” when told of Queen Elizabeth II’s death in 2022.

Of her historic meeting at Balmoral in Scotland, which occurred just two days before the monarch’s death, Truss says the 96-year-old Queen “seemed to have grown frailer” since she had last been in the public eye.

Liz Truss Book
Liz Truss Book (PA)

However, she wrote in an excerpt published in the Daily Mail that there “simply wasn’t any sense that the end would come as quickly as it did.”

The memoir details how the “machine kicked into action” when word reached Number 10 that the Queen would not be able to join via video link, as planned, for the formal swearing-in of new ministers.

“My black mourning dress was fetched from my house in Greenwich, south London,” she wrote.

“Frantic phone calls took place with Buckingham Palace. I started to think about what on earth I was going to say if the unthinkable happened.

“On Thursday, we received the solemn news that the Queen had died peacefully at Balmoral. To be told this on only my second full day as Prime Minister felt utterly unreal. In a state of shock, I found myself thinking: ‘Why me, why now?’”

She shares details of her first and final meeting with the Queen.

(Getty Images)

Ms Truss wrote: “That Tuesday, September 6, 2022, she was standing up as she greeted me in her drawing room. I was told she’d made a special effort to do so but she gave no hint of discomfort throughout our discussion.

“This was only my second one-on-one audience with her. On the previous occasion, after I’d been removed from a different job in the Government, she’d remarked that being a woman in politics was tough.

“For about 20 minutes, we discussed politics — and it was clear she was completely attuned to everything that was happening, as well as being typically sharp and witty. There simply wasn’t any sense that the end would come as quickly as it did.

Ms Truss, whose tenure in Downing Street lasted just 49 days after her disastrous mini-budget unleashed economic chaos, also revealed the late Queen told her to “pace yourself”.

“Maybe I should have listened,” the former PM said.

She was also scathing about the realities of living in No 10.

“The place was infested with fleas,” she wrote. “Some claimed that this was down to Boris and Carrie’s dog Dilyn, but there was no conclusive evidence. In any case, the entire place had to be sprayed with flea killer. I spent several weeks itching.”

The “most difficult thing to get used to”, she wrote, was that “spontaneous excursions were all but impossible: I was effectively a prisoner”.

She recruited her teenage daughters, Liberty and Frances, to run errands “because it was easier for them to leave the buildings without being spotted”. Of their time in one of the most famous addresses in the country she said: “I’m pleased they at least managed to fit in a sleepover with their friends. And they did get to visit the nuclear bunker.”

(Getty Images)

Before moving into Downing Street, Ms Truss revealed that her husband predicted her premiership “would all end in tears’ in her new memoir.

The former prime minister describes the moment she learnt that her predecessor, Boris Johnson, was forced to resign while in Bali at the time as foreign secretary and said: “As I walked along the beach in Indonesia I started crying.”

“Even Hugh [her husband], who predicted it would all end in tears, accepted that this was the moment I was expected to run and that if I didn’t, people would say I had bottled it,” Truss writes.

But the MP for South West Norfolk defended her approach in her memoir, suggesting the “pro-Remain” Treasury, Bank of England and Office for Budget Responsibility were “barriers to our plans”.

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