The Queen is known to be no great fan of the mobile phone, despite being given one by her son Prince Andrew as far back as 2001, and the American ambassador to the UK has revealed that Her Majesty told him that she finds it “strange” to see nothing but the backs of mobile phones whenever she looks up.
“She was essentially saying: 'I miss eye contact,’ ” Matthew Barzun told Tatler magazine, in the course of an interview in which he rather undiplomatically managed to insult British cooking for being too reliant on lamb and potatoes.
Asked by Tatler to describe his ideal dinner party, the Harvard graduate replied undiplomatically: “I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes. I must have had lamb and potatoes 180 times since I have been here. There are limits and I have reached them.”
Barzun – the youngest ambassador in modern times - has been a society fixture since his posting was announced last year, hosting rock concerts at his sprawling Regent’s Park residence, which has the biggest garden in London (12 acres).
He said the Queen confided her dislike of mobile phone-waving crowds in him during a “nice chat” they had when he presented his credentials at Buckingham Palace after his appointment last year.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “Riding to Buckingham Palace in an open carriage – I don’t think that will happen again.”
15:15 Update: Barzun has sort-of apologised for being rude about British lamb:
. @WilliamSitwell Realize I got myself in a bit of a stew, feeling a little sheepish now.— Matthew Barzun (@MatthewBarzun) September 2, 2014