Buckingham Palace complained to Britain’s press watchdog on Wednesday about a newspaper report that Queen Elizabeth II wants the UK to leave the European Union, saying the monarch remains politically neutral.
Under the headline "Queen Backs Brexit" - a British EU exit - The Sun newspaper quoted anonymous sources as saying that Elizabeth, in 2011, had told then-Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that the EU was heading in the wrong direction. The story said the queen "left no room for doubt about her passionate feelings over Europe.”
Clegg called the report nonsense. "I've no recollection of this happening & its not the sort of thing I would forget," he wrote on Twitter.
The palace said it had written to the Independent Press Standards Organization to complain that the story had breached a prohibition in the Editors' Code of Practice against "inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text."
The palace earlier declined to comment on "spurious, anonymously sourced claims" and stressed British people are the ones who will decide, adding," The queen remains politically neutral, as she has for 63 years."
The queen is prohibited from taking sides in political debates and rarely makes her personal views public.
Her grandson Prince William has also been pulled into the increasingly febrile EU debate. Some newspapers, including The Sun - which supports Brexit - criticised Prince William for giving a speech about the importance of Britain working with other nations, last month at a meeting with British diplomats.
Opinion polls show voters are divided over membership ahead of a June 23 referendum so even the perception that Elizabeth, who must remain above politics under Britain's unwritten constitution, may favour an exit from the 28-member bloc could be damaging for the campaign to keep Britain in.
"The Sun stands by its story, provided by a very credible source," a spokesman said in response to the palace denials.