The BBC's political editor has reopened the row on the Queen’s stance on Brexit after revealing that she was told the monarch was in favour of leaving the EU months before The Sun's front page story was published.
Laura Kuenssberg said one of her sources revealed that the Queen told people at a private lunch that she thought Britain should leave the EU. Unable to find a second source to corroborate the story she was unable to publish it.
Months later The Sun printed the story, which caused one of the biggest rows of the referendum campaign, and led to Buckingham Palace making a formal complaint to Ipso, the press regulator, which was upheld. The Sun stood by the story.
Kuenssberg's comments on BBC Radio 4's Today programme back up The Sun's reporting, which said it had two sources for the claim that the Queen had "let rip" at then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg about Europe at a lunch at Windsor Castle.
Kuenssberg said that her "jaw hit the floor" when she was told of the Queen's comments.
"In a casual chat with one of my contacts, they said 'Do you know what? At some point this is going to come out, and I'm telling you now and I don't know if the BBC would touch it, but the Queen told people at a private lunch that she thinks that we should leave the EU'.
"Apparently at this lunch she said 'I don't see why we can't just get out. What's the problem?'... "My jaw hit the floor. Very sadly, I only had one source. I spent the next few days trying to prove it. I couldn't find the evidence.
"Lo and behold, a couple of months later, someone else did. Of course then ensued a huge row between that newspaper and the Palace over what had really been said or not said. There were lots of moments in the referendum campaign but for me that was one when my jaw did hit the floor. Very frustratingly, the story did eventually emerge, whether it was true or not."
The Sun today published a story following Kuenssberg's comments, running with the headline 'Beeb backs The Sun on Queen Brexit'.