November 29, 2019 / 12:26 PM / 16 days ago

Queen is beyond reproach and distinct from royal family, Johnson says

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Queen Elizabeth visits the new headquarters of the Royal Philatelic society in London, Britain November 26, 2019. Tolga Akmen/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Queen Elizabeth is beyond reproach but there is a distinction between the monarchy and the rest of the royal family, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday when asked if the monarchy was beyond reproach after the scandal involving Prince Andrew.

“The monarchy is the queen and in my view she is beyond reproach - there is a distinction between the monarchy and the royal family and everybody will readily appreciate that,” Johnson told reporters.

Andrew, Elizabeth’s second son, stepped down from royal duties last week saying the controversy surrounding his “ill-judged” association with late U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein had caused major disruption to the royal family’s work.

As the story dominated British news for a week, overshadowing campaigning for the Dec. 12 election, there has been widespread criticism of Andrew and demands he should answer questions from U.S. authorities about Epstein.

The prince, 59, denies an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by his former friend, who killed himself in a U.S. prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the monarchy “needs a bit of improvement” and nobody was above the law.

But on Friday Johnson sought to emphasise the difference between the 93-year-old queen as monarch and her family.

“An obvious definitional distinction,” he said.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden

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