British far-right leader to attend queen's tea party
British National Party leader Nick Griffin will attend a tea party hosted by Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday, after pulling out of last year's event because of a furore over his far-right views.
Griffin, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), is among 8,000 guests invited to the event at the queen's London residence at Buckingham Palace.
He had been due to attend last year's party but cancelled his plans after the prospect of the far-right leader exchanging views with the monarch caused outrage among left-wing activists, the media and London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Speaking on Thursday, Griffin said he had pulled out because of the "immense pressure" put on the person who had invited him, a BNP member of the London Assembly, but insisted that this year he had been invited in his own right.
"The palace have made it very, very clear that they will not discriminate against any elected MEP and I think that's the proper thing to do, so there's no embarrassment there at all," Griffin told the GMTV breakfast TV show.
He said he was "pretty sure" he would not meet the queen during the party and would not try to speak to her, although he added: "If we happen to meet over the sandwiches, of course I will."
Campaign group Unite Against Fascism condemned Griffin's presence, with a spokesman saying: "Events like this help to make Nick Griffin and the BNP seem legitimate in the eyes of racist voters."
Last year, Johnson said that Griffin's presence at the garden party would turn it into a "political stunt".
A palace spokesman said: "Nick Griffin is automatically eligible for a garden party ticket as he is an elected member of the European Parliament."
The BNP campaigns for an immediate halt to all immigration and the "voluntary resettlement" of immigrants back to their country of origin.
It won its first two European lawmakers last year but failed in its attempt to win a seat in the House of Commons in May's general election.
© 2010 AFP