THE Sun newspaper apologised to the Queen today for 'unintentionally' causing personal offence by publishing the text of the Christmas message early.
The apology, in the form of a front-page letter, comes after a writ on behalf of the Queen was served on the newspaper on Thursday. It also offers to give pounds 200,000 to the Save the Children Fund, whose patron is the Princess Royal.
Chris Davis, assistant editor, said: 'It is Mr Rupert Murdoch who feels we should make this handsome and gracious gesture. It has been discussed at the very highest level.'
The writ was issued in the Chancery Division and named the plaintiff as Her Majesty's Attorney General and the defendant as News Group Newspapers Ltd. It alleges infringement of copyright in relation to the Christmas message of 1992.
The letter reads: 'Ma'am, Last week you proved you are in touch with ordinary people by agreeing to pay income tax. No small thing. You have responded to public opinion and we applaud you. So the Sun is making a gesture of its own. We accept that, unintentionally, we caused you personal offence by publishing your Christmas message two days in advance. We regret that.
'We do not believe that what we did was illegal . . . However, we appreciate that you are the head of our national family. And many felt our action was like opening their annual Christmas present from you 48 hours early . . .
'We hope now that we can all go forward together in making Britain a better society.
'As we do, there are certain to be further disagreements, even vigorous ones. But here's hoping they can be conducted in a spirit of openness and goodwill.'
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said last night that the Queen's solicitors received a telephone call from the Sun yesterday. 'Any proposals that they are making will be looked at carefully but in the meantime the matter remains with the solicitors,' he said.
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