Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recounted his last meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, saying she was “bright” and “focused” in the days before her death despite being visibly ill.
“She was actively focused on geopolitics, on UK politics, quoting statesmen from the 1950s. It was quite extraordinary,” Johnson told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday, adding that it was “shocking” to hear of her death just two days after they met.
Johnson said the Queen was “obviously not well” during their meeting, which he said was a “poignant” reminder of her unwavering commitment to public service, even in her final days.
“I just thought how amazing it was that her sense of duty kept her going like this. And given how sick she obviously was, how amazing it was that she should be so, so bright and so focused,” Johnson said. “It was quite an emotional time.”
Queen Elizabeth holds weekly audiences with the sitting prime minister, with her reign spanning the tenures of 15 British leaders, according to The Guardian. After her death on Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, that role passed to her successor, King Charles III.
New UK Prime Minister Liz Truss held her first audience with the King on Friday.
Johnson met the Queen on Tuesday at Balmoral to formally offer his resignation after Truss won the Tory leadership contest to succeed him as the next leader of the Conservative Party and become the country’s new prime minister. Later that day, the Queen appointed Truss to take his place.
Johnson announced in July that he would step down amid a string of scandals, including hosting parties in breach of coronavirus restrictions and allegations of misconduct by a top aide that prompted the resignations of more than 50 ministers.