Just hours after her prime minister, David Cameron, was caught on camera speaking undiplomatically about the “fantastically corrupt” regimes of Nigeria and Afghanistan, Queen Elizabeth herself made a major on-camera slip-up, calling the Chinese delegation that visited the U.K. last year “very rude.”
The comments, which were made at a Buckingham Palace garden party Tuesday afternoon, were censored in China, according to reports.
Last year’s state visit by President Xi Jinping was the latest attempt to patch up sometimes fraught diplomatic relations between the two countries: In the ’80s, Prince Philip warned some British students in China that they’d get “slitty eyes” if they stayed there too long and Prince Charles described certain Chinese officials in a leaked document as “appalling old waxworks.”
The queen was talking to a senior police officer when the comments were captured.
She was introduced to Metropolitan Police Commander Lucy D’Orsi, who the monarch was told had overseen security during President Xi’s visit to the U.K. in October.
She can be heard saying: “Oh, bad luck.”
An plummy-voiced gentleman then tells the queen that D’Orsi had been “seriously, seriously undermined by the Chinese, but she managed to hold her own and remain in command.”
D’Orsi tells the queen: “I was the Gold Commander so I’m not sure whether you knew, but it was quite a testing time for...”
“I did,” the queen said.
Commander D’Orsi continued: “It was at the point they walked out of Lancaster House and told me that the trip was off, that I felt...”
The queen said: “They were very rude to the ambassador.”
D’Orsi replied: “They were... it was very rude and undiplomatic, I thought.”
Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on “the queen’s private conversations.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the Daily Telegraph the Chinese state visit “got a bit stressful on both sides,” but added, “It was a great state visit—everybody agrees, hugely successful—and our relationship with China is very strong and has been greatly strengthened by the success of that visit.”
The BBC reports that its coverage of the story has been censored in China, with BBC World News “blanked out during a report on the conversation.”