Cameron to apologise to Queen over ‘purring’ comment

British prime minister used term to describe reaction of monarch to Scotland referendum

The British Prime Minister was overheard telling Michael Bloomberg in New York the Queen "purred" with relief when he told her Scots had voted against independence. Video: Reuters

 

British prime minister David Cameron is to make an unprecedented apology in person to Queen Elizabeth II, after being caught privately describing her as “purring” in pleasure at the result of the Scottish Independence referendum.

A chastened Mr Cameron admitted he was “very embarrassed” and “extremely sorry” over the gaffe, which came as he chatted with billionaire media tycoon Michael Bloomberg in New York.

Downing Street has already contacted Buckingham Palace to offer his apologies and it is understood that Mr Cameron will say sorry in person when he next meets the Queen for one of his regular audiences.

Mr Cameron came under fire after being picked up by a TV microphone on Tuesday telling former New York mayor Mr Bloomberg of the relief he felt at not having to inform the Queen that Scotland had left the United Kingdom.

As the pair arrived for a press photo-opportunity, Mr Cameron smiled broadly as he recalled how he was able to tell her it was “all right” after the referendum resulted in a victory for the No camp.

“The definition of relief, if you are prime minister of the United Kingdom, is ringing up Her Majesty the queen and saying ‘Your Majesty, it is all right, it’s okay’,” he said. “That was something. She purred down the line.”

The comments were condemned as “crass and incompetent” by Scottish National Party member Dennis Robertson, though Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Cameron was asked whether he regretted the comment and whether he would apologise.

“Yes and yes,” he replied. “Look, I’m very embarrassed by this. I’m extremely sorry about it...It was a private conversation, but clearly a private conversation that I shouldn’t have had and won’t have again.”

PA