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Monarch is neutral on EU, insists Palace

By Tony Jones

The Queen is "politically neutral on the EU" Buckingham Palace has said, after a speech where she spoke of the need for unity in Europe was interpreted by some as a foray into the EU debate.

At a State banquet in Berlin in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and David Cameron, the Queen said that "division in Europe is dangerous".

The Queen told her host, German President Joachim Gauck, and his guests: "We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the west as well as in the east of our continent.

"That remains a common endeavour."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Queen's speech speaks for itself on the threats of division and the benefits of unity. As ever, the Queen is above politics and is politically neutral on the EU."

Meanwhile, British officials have confirmed treaty changes to reform the UK's relationship with the EU may not be in place by the time of the in/out referendum Mr Cameron has promised by the end of 2017.

But they insisted the Prime Minister will secure "legally binding and irreversible" assurances that EU law will be changed to incorporate the reforms, which will be "crystal clear" to voters before they go to the polling booths.

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