LONDON (Reuters) - Buckingham Palace said it had launched an official complaint with Britain's press watchdog on Wednesday (March 9) over a newspaper report that Queen Elizabeth backs a British exit from the European Union, saying the monarch remains politically neutral.
Buckingham Palace earlier on Wednesday dismissed the report as "spurious".
Under the front-page headline "Queen backs Brexit", The Sun newspaper quoted unidentified sources as saying that Queen Elizabeth had made her opposition to British membership of the EU clear on at least two occasions over the past decade.
"The Queen remains politically neutral, as she has for 63 years," a spokesman for the queen said in an e-mailed response.
"We will not comment on spurious, anonymously-sourced claims. The referendum is a matter for the British people to decide," the spokesman said.
Opinion polls show voters are divided over membership ahead of a June 23 referendum so even the perception that Queen Elizabeth may favour an exit from the 28-member bloc could be damaging for the campaign to keep Britain in.
The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, cited unidentified sources as saying that Queen Elizabeth had abruptly told then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at a Windsor Castle lunch in 2011 that the EU was heading in the wrong direction.
Mr Clegg dismissed the report as nonsense. "I've no recollection of this happening & its not the sort of thing I would forget," Mr Clegg said on Twitter.
The newspaper, British's best selling daily which has repeatedly criticised Britain's EU membership, also said the monarch told lawmakers at a separate meeting that she did not understand Europe.
When asked for comment on the Palace's denial, a spokesman said: "The Sun stands by its story, provided by a very credible source."
Less than a week before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Queen Elizabeth said she hoped Scots would think carefully about the future, a comment which was interpreted as giving support to those seeking to preserve the United Kingdom.