WE are loathe to return to the “partygate” scandal for a third consecutive day in this space, but it is the scandal that not only keeps on giving but also keeps on appalling.

The picture of the 85-year-old Queen, with a black mask wrapped around her face, sitting all alone in a huge pew at the funeral of her husband of 73 years is one of the iconic images of the pandemic. It represents the emotional sufferings and personal deprivations that so many people, from the monarch downwards, endured.

Except civil servants working in Downing Street, drawing up the rules and sending out the tweets that they expected everyone else – Her Majesty included – to obey.

It is unbelievable that just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced into an abject apology for the Downing Street parties that details of further parties emerge, including two on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, which appear to have been so boisterous that Mr Johnson’s son’s garden swing was broken.

And then we learn of a leaving party held for the head of the Covid taskforce last Christmas. On the very day the Government tweeted a reminder of its ban on office parties, the booze flowed in Whitehall as Kate Josephs – who the Queen has subsequently honoured for her service – left for another plum civil service job.

The gulf between the ruled and the out-of-touch rulers is staggering, and deeply insulting – which is why Downing Street has now apologised to the Queen. We await the official report with huge interest.