As Britain battled the first Covid wave in May 2020, tensions between the Number 10 political team and the Civil Service were spilling over.
Helen MacNamara, a former deputy cabinet secretary, told the BBC there was “extreme” talk in the Johnson camp about the failings of Whitehall after he was treated in hospital for the virus.
They were taking a “kind of smash everything up, shut it all down, start again” attitude, she said, adding: “We were systematically in real trouble.”
Sources told the documentary that senior officials voiced concerns about Mr Johnson’s conduct to the palace in the hope the late Queen would speak to him about the concerns. They even discussed suggesting this course of action to the monarch, the BBC said.
Government figures are said to have held a number of phone calls and communications with the palace that went beyond routine contact. One source claimed Mr Johnson “had to be reminded of the constitution”, but this was denied by his team.
The former prime minister had already caused a stir with the palace when in 2019 he suspended the Commons for five weeks ahead of the Brexit deadline.
His advice to the monarch to prorogue Parliament was found to have been unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Buckingham Palace and Downing Street have been approached for comment.