Graham Norton has said that he rejected the chance to “queue jump” the Queen line as he predicted a backlash.
The TV personality said that he was offered the chance to skip the public queue to see the Queen lying in state by a friend, who is an MP, but turned the offer down as he thought he would “get it in the neck”.
Programme bosses maintain that the presenting duo were rushed into Westminster Hall as members of the press so they could film a segment for the show.
Speaking about the debate surrounding Schofield and Willoughby, Norton told Nihal Arthanayake on BBC Radio 5 Live: “For instance, recently Phil and Holly and the queue. So as far as I’m concerned they did nothing wrong.”
He elaborated: “There was a two-tier system. You could queue jump. Now, I got offered a queue jump ticket by a friend of mine. He’s an MP and he said, ‘Do you want to come?’ And I didn’t say yes because I thought if anybody sees me I’ll get it in the neck. And that was what I thought.
“So I suppose what Phil and Holly got wrong was they thought people wouldn’t care. I guess that’s their crime.”
Norton continued: “The actual queue jumping? They did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong. But foolish of them to not think that people would be annoyed.”
When This Morning returned on the Tuesday (20 September) following the Queen’s funeral, Willoughby addressed the criticism on social media, saying in a pre-recorded segment: “Please know that we would never jump a queue.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has also expressed concern about their targeting.
She said last week: “I’ve been worried about them because even though they are celebrities… they are human beings and I just think ‘wow’.”
Around a quarter of a million people are believed to have paid their respects in person by viewing the Queen’s coffin during the period of her lying in state.
Additional reporting by Agencies