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The BBC's Lucy Atherton
"Mo Mowlam was clearly taken aback by the reaction"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Mowlam 'sorry' for royal remarks
Mo Mowlam speaking to Association of Chief Police Officers conference
Mo Mowlam says her remarks have been "hyped"
Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam has apologised for any "hurt" caused by her suggestions in a magazine interview that the Queen should move out of Buckingham Palace.

Speaking at a police conference in Blackpool, Ms Mowlam acknowledged that her suggestion that the royals move into more modern accommodation may have caused them distress.

Asked whether she thought the ensuing political row had jeopardised her future in the cabinet, she said: "I have no idea, that's up to Tony Blair."

Despite her apology, she insisted the story had been "hyped a little".

Modernised monarchy

Ms Mowlam pointed out she had first made the comments more than six years ago and insisted they were not anti-monarchy.

And the former Northern Ireland secretary was keen to stress the monarchy had modernised in recent times.

Her backtracking comes as leftwing Labour backbenchers stressed their support for Ms Mowlam's initial comments.

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said: "Why on earth shouldn't we discuss the future of royalty in a grown-up way?

"We must accept that government ministers by taking office are not lobotomised, and are still capable of intelligent thought and should be allowed to express it," he said.

Too popular to sack

He insisted that Mo Mowlam, who consistently tops polls as Labour's favourite cabinet minister, was far too popular to be sacked in a reshuffle, he admitted it was likely she had been "slapped down" by Downing Street.

Diane Abbott MP, another leftwinger, also offered her support.

"The Queen's accommodation, just like that of my council tenant constituents, is funded by public money and it is a reasonable subject for public debate.

"I am not suggesting that the removal vans should go up The Mall tomorrow, but I do think it is a perfectly reasonable thing for Mo to bring up," she said.

Earlier a Downing Street spokesman said that the Prime Minister had not spoken to Ms Mowlam since the story broke earlier this week.

The spokesman said: "There's no need to. She's getting on with her job. He's getting on with his".

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28 Jun 00 | Talking Point
Where should the Royals live?
27 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Mowlam sparks royal palace row
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