We wish Queen Elizabeth II a very happy 90th birthday today. Her Majesty has selflessly devoted her life to the service of Britain, the Commonwealth and its people. All owe her a debt of thanks.
Without in any way wanting to detract from the occasion, here we list 10 individuals and organisations who owe the Queen an apology for embarrassing howlers, snubs, keeping bad company, or just thinking they are more important than she is.
1. Tony and Cherie Blair
The charge sheet against the Blairs is long, but they should say sorry to the Queen for humiliating her in 2008 by revealing in excruciating detail that their youngest son, Leo, was conceived at Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish estate, while they were guests there. A classic example of self-important showing off.
2. David Cameron
Cameron is the Queen’s 12th prime minister. He showed his immaturity in 2014 when he was caught on camera boasting to ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg that the Queen “purred down the line” after he phoned her to say Scotland had voted “No” in the independence referendum. Cameron’s remarks, suggesting the Queen was pleased with the result, were a clear breach of protocol: a prime minister never speaks about his conversations with the monarch. The Queen was so angry about Cameron’s indiscretion, she reportedly said he deserved “six of the best”.
3. Michelle Obama
In 2009 First Lady Michelle Obama breached Royal protocol by touching the Queen’s back during an official visit to the UK.
Despite ancient precedent dictating that nobody is allowed to touch the monarch, Mrs Obama appeared to forget her place in the pecking order. Would she have done the same to a member of the Saudi royal family?
4. Prince Andrew
The Queen’s second son has been a disappointment to his mother in many ways, though they remain close. However, questions still remain about why Andrew had such a close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy businessman and convicted paedophile. It is inconceivable that the Queen would ever consider keeping such company. Why did Andrew?
5. The BBC (Pt.1)
The British state broadcaster is a reluctant fan of the monarchy. This was most evident in 2007 when it falsely suggested in a TV documentary trailer that the Queen stormed out of a session with photographer Annie Leibovitz. The footage had in fact been edited to make it seem like the Queen had had a temper tantrum. “Crowngate”, as it became known, marked a new low in relations.
6. The BBC (Pt.2)
In the 1990s the BBC stopped playing the national anthem when its main channel, BBC1, closed down for the night, ending decades of tradition. BBC Radio 4 has also cut back on playing the national anthem for the birthdays of senior royals. Politicians have repeatedly objected to this, but the BBC apparently knows best.
7. The British government in 1997
In 1997 one of the Queen’s most treasured possessions, the Royal Yacht Britannia, was decommissioned.
The outgoing Conservative government pledged to replace it if re-elected but Tony Blair’s incoming Labour government refused. Prince Philip still believes both parties could have worked together to commission a new yacht. This has gone down as one of the biggest cock-ups – and cruellest snubs to the Queen – in Whitehall history.
8. Carol Ann Duffy
The Royal Poet Laureate – the Queen’s official poet – has snubbed today’s birthday by failing to publish any verse to mark it. Instead, she has announced she wants to write an ode to gas meters later this year. Duffy, a Scot, is paid £5,750 per year plus a “butt of sherry”, a tradition going back to the 17th century. That is the equivalent of 720 bottles. Why did she take the job if she wasn’t going to put in the hours?
9. The Countess of Wessex
In 2001 the Countess of Wessex, the former Sophie Rhys Jones, newly married to the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, fell for a spectacular sting launched by the News of the World’s “Fake Sheikh”. Wessex, a PR executive, was falsely promised a £20,000-a-month PR account for a Saudi prince. As the bogus deal was being done, she was caught on tape sharing her views on members of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition and other issues of the day. Buckingham Palace went into meltdown.
10. Presidents Sarkozy and Obama
In May 2009 President Sarkozy of France snubbed the Queen by failing to invite her in her capacity as UK and Canada head of state to celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Instead, he asked only Obama, despite thousands of British and Canadian troops giving their lives alongside US troops in order to liberate France. Although he could easily have done so, Obama failed to impress upon Sarkozy the importance of inviting the British monarch to the event. Many thought it was the least he could do, especially since the Queen was a mechanic with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War.