Queen, Cameron in double diplomatic gaffe

(Left) Queen Elizabeth II was caught on camera making the controversial comments at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, the same day that Mr David Cameron (above) was filmed making undiplomatic remarks about Nigeria and Afghanistan.
(Above) Queen Elizabeth II was caught on camera making the controversial comments at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, the same day that Mr David Cameron was filmed making undiplomatic remarks about Nigeria and Afghanistan.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
(Left) Queen Elizabeth II was caught on camera making the controversial comments at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, the same day that Mr David Cameron (above) was filmed making undiplomatic remarks about Nigeria and Afghanistan.
Queen Elizabeth II was caught on camera making the controversial comments at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, the same day that Mr David Cameron (above) was filmed making undiplomatic remarks about Nigeria and Afghanistan.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

UK monarch says Chinese officials were very rude to envoy; PM calls Nigeria and Afghanistan corrupt

LONDON • Queen Elizabeth II has been caught on camera saying that Chinese officials were "very rude" to the British ambassador during a state visit to Britain by President Xi Jinping last year.

She made the comments at a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, the same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron was filmed making undiplomatic remarks about Nigeria and Afghanistan being corrupt countries.

His comments were especially awkward as he is hosting both countries' leaders at an anti-corruption conference in London today.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who was in London yesterday, agreed that his country is corrupt, saying he does not want an apology. Instead, he wants Britain to return assets stolen by Nigerian officials who fled to London.

In September 2014, Mr Cameron had to apologise to the Queen after he was caught on a live microphone telling former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that she had "purred down the line" when he called to inform her that Scotland had voted to stay in Britain, suggesting that she felt relieved.

  • 'They were very rude to the ambassador'

  • Here is a transcript of the exchange involving Queen Elizabeth and Metropolitan police commander Lucy D'Orsi on China and Ms Barbara Woodward, Britain's first female ambassador to China:

    Lord Chamberlain: Can I present Commander Lucy D'Orsi, who was gold commander during the Chinese state visit.

    Queen: Oh, bad luck.

    Lord Chamberlain: And who was seriously, seriously undermined by the Chinese, but she managed to hold her own and remain in command. And her mother, Judith, who's involved in child protection and social work.

    Ms Judith Copson: Yes, I'm very proud of my daughter.

    Lord Chamberlain: You must tell your story.

    Ms D'Orsi: Yes, I was the gold commander, so I'm not sure whether you knew, but it was quite a testing time for me.

    Queen: Yes, I did.

    Ms D'Orsi: It was… I think at the point that they walked out of Lancaster House and told me that the trip was off, that I felt…

    Queen: They were very rude to the ambassador.

    Ms D'Orsi: They were, well, yes she was, Barbara (Woodward) was with me and they walked out on both of us.

    Queen: Extraordinary.

    Ms Copson: I know, it's unbelievable.

    Ms D'Orsi: It was very rude and very undiplomatic, I thought.

Under her constitutional role, the 90-year-old monarch never makes any politically or diplomatically sensitive comments in public.

In footage broadcast by the BBC, the Queen was seen meeting Metropolitan police commander Lucy D'Orsi, who was introduced by an official as having been in charge of security during Mr Xi's visit in October last year.

"Oh, bad luck," the Queen said in response. Ms D'Orsi then described her dealings with Chinese officials as "quite a testing time" and recounted that at one point they had walked out of a meeting and told her "the trip was off".

The Queen said: "They were very rude to the ambassador."

In Beijing, however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had not heard anything about Mr Xi's visit possibly being called off, adding that the visit had opened a new "golden age" in relations for both countries.

Mr Xi's visit was full of pomp and ceremony, with Mr Cameron and Finance Minister George Osborne keen to impress the Chinese leader and present Britain as China's firmest friend in Europe.

The Queen has been careful to keep her views to herself during her 64-year reign, but several other members of Britain's royal family have made undiplomatic comments about China in the past.

For instance, the Queen's husband, Prince Philip, warned some British students in China in the 1980s that they would get "slitty eyes" if they stayed there too long.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Queen, Cameron in double diplomatic gaffe'. Print Edition | Subscribe