Queen Elizabeth II, UK PM 'shoot' diplomatic gaffe scenes at Buckingham Palace

The Buckingham Palace was the location of two major diplomatic gaffes on Tuesday with both British Prime Minister David Cameron and Queen Elizabeth being caught on camera making indiscreet remarks that has left the country's diplomatic staff red-faced.

Cameron was filmed making the remarks to Queen Elizabeth and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at an event at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, ahead of an anti-corruption summit he is hosting in London on Thursday.

"We've got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain," the prime minister said.

"Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world," he added.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd R) during a reception in Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron (2nd R) during a reception in Buckingham Palace in London on Tuesday. Pic/AFP

The archbishop, who worked as an oil executive in West Africa before joining the church and who has also undertaken conflict resolution work in Nigeria, noted that "this particular president is actually not corrupt".

"He's really trying," Mr Cameron agreed, and the queen noted to the archbishop: "He is trying, isn't he?" It was not clear to whom they were referring, but Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani are both due to attend the summit.

The same day, in an unguarded moment, Queen Elizabeth committed a major diplomatic gaffe after she was caught on camera referring to Chinese officials as having been "very rude" during President Xi Jinping's state visit to the UK last year.

Her comments, which were aired on Wednesday and received wide coverage, were recorded by an official royal cameraman during a Buckingham Palace garden party on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the British diplomatic staff, her comments were made on the same day Cameron was filmed making undiplomatic remarks.

Under her constitutional role, the 90-year-old monarch never makes any politically or diplomatically sensitive comments in public, and it is rare for her private conversations to be revealed.

The 90-year-old Queen was discussing Chinese officials' treatment of Britain's ambassador to China Barbara Woodward during President Xi's visit to the UK last October.

In footage broadcast by the BBC, the Queen is seen meeting senior police officer Lucy D’Orsi, who is introduced by an official as having been in charge of security during Xi’s visit in October last year.

“Oh, bad luck,” the queen says in response.

D’Orsi then describes her dealings with Chinese officials as “quite a testing time” and recounts that at one point they had walked out of a meeting and told her “the trip was off”.

The BBC reported that in China, the queen’s remarks were censored from news bulletins.

The Chinese authorities often censor items they object to from foreign news bulletins, which can only be seen by very few people in China. Foreign TV channels are only allowed in high-end hotels and in a tiny number of apartment buildings.

"We do not comment on the queen’s private conversations. However, the Chinese state visit was extremely successful and all parties worked closely to ensure it proceeded smoothly," said a Queen’s spokeswoman.

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.

Her eldest son, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, has skipped two state banquets for Chinese guests in Britain, and described some Chinese officials in a journal that was leaked to the media as "appalling old waxworks".

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