Live microphones and rolling cameras have caught many politicians being uncommonly candid. Now it’s royalty’s turn, and none other than Queen Elizabeth II.
Big on protocol, the queen was recorded on camera Tuesday saying Chinese officials were “very rude” to the British ambassador to China last year during planning for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to the U.K.
Her highness was talking to Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who was in charge of security for Xi’s four-day state visit. “Oh, bad luck,” the queen replied upon being told of D’Orsi’s role for the visit.
Queen Elizabeth’s rude reference taped at garden party
The monarch was already well aware that the Chinese delegation had walked out on a meeting at the Lancaster House with D’Orsi and Ambassador Barbara Woodward in October.
The 30-second exchange, which came during a Buckingham Palace garden party, was recorded by the palace’s official cameraman and distributed to broadcasters.
Clad in pink and holding a clear umbrella under a light rain, the queen was introduced at the party to D’Orsi by the Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, head of the royal household. He invited D’Orsi to explain her role as “gold commander” during the planning stages for Xi’s visit in October 2015.
“I’m not sure whether you knew, but it was quite a testing time for me,” D’Orsi told Elizabeth.
“Yes, I did,” Queen Elizabeth replied.
“It was, er, I think at the point that they walked out of Lancaster House and told me that the trip was off, I felt that …,” D’Orsi said.
“They were very rude to the ambassador,” Queen Elizabeth responded.
The exchange was unusual because the queen rarely comments on political matters, and her media entourage is expected not to listen to private exchanges.
British, Chinese officials stress visit’s success
Noting the intended private nature of the exchange, the palace didn’t comment on the garden party conversation but said Xi’s visit was a success. Chinese officials avoided comment on the blunt talk, also chiming in on the visit’s success.
Prime Minister David Cameron had called it a win for British business at the time. The two countries signed more than $46 billion in trade deals.
Cameron himself was caught on a live microphone Tuesday, telling the queen that some “fantastically corrupt” countries would be represented at an anti-corruption conference this week in London. He went on to name Nigeria and Afghanistan as “possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”