Liz Truss thought ‘why me, why now?’ after Queen’s death

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Liz Truss has revealed how she thought “why me, why now?” when she was told that Queen Elizabeth II had died.

The former prime minister said she went into a “state of shock” after learning of the Queen’s death in September 2022.

She said there “simply wasn’t any sense that the end would come as quickly as it did” during their second and final audience two days before.

Ms Truss, who spent 49 days in office, also recalled how the late Queen advised her to “pace yourself”.

“Maybe I should have listened,” the former Tory leader writes in an extract from her memoir, Ten Years to Save the West, published on Mail+.

Ms Truss was forced to stand down in October 2022 after her mini-budget sparked economic turmoil. Her brief time in power made her the shortest-serving prime minister in Britain’s history.

Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, died on 8 September 2022, aged 96. She met and appointed Liz Truss to No 10 on 6 September, just two days prior.

 

Recalling the meeting, Ms Truss writes in her memoir that the monarch 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.”

PA Media Liz Truss and the Queen shake handsPA Media
Queen Elizabeth and Liz Truss during an audience at Balmoral on Tuesday 6 September 2022

Ms Truss said the “machine kicked into action” when word reached Downing Street a day later that the Queen would not be available to join via videolink, as planned, a formal swearing in of new ministers.

“My black mourning dress was fetched from my house in Greenwich, south London,” Ms Truss writes.

“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?'”

Ms Truss says she was “overcome by a profound sense of sadness” and recalled breaking down in “floods of tears on the sofa” when watching the Queen’s coffin depart Balmoral for Edinburgh that weekend.

She adds: “I knew I’d never forget my last meeting with Her Majesty – and especially what she said towards the end of our talk in her drawing room. Being prime minister, she warned me, is incredibly ageing. She also gave me two words of advice: ‘Pace yourself.’

“Maybe I should have listened.”

Ms Truss stepped down after she and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s £45bn package of tax cuts panicked the markets and brought the pound to a then-record low.

According to Mail+, she defends the plans in her memoir and says the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility – which she describes as a “three-headed hydra” – were “barriers to our plans”.

Ms Truss writes how she had been considering whether to “appoint new senior leaders in the Bank of England and Treasury” but admits this would have “amounted to a declaration of war on the economic establishment”.

“It would also have taken time we didn’t have,” she adds.

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