Her friends and associates swear she has a wonderful sense of humor, but it’s fair to say that belly laughter and Her Majesty are not generally associated with each other.
However, Queen Elizabeth II had world leaders in stitches Friday, as, to the collective astonishment of those present, she cracked a joke while assembled for a photo with the G7 leaders and members of her family in Cornwall, England.
“Are you supposed to look as if you’re enjoying it?” she quipped, according to reports in the Daily Mail and other outlets.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson replied, “We have been enjoying ourselves, despite appearances.”
The queen’s droll remark marked the culmination of a stunning show of soft power on behalf of Brexit Britain by the royals on Friday, as the Windsors descended en masse on the G7 summit of world leaders in England.
The queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William, and Kate Middleton attended a reception at the Eden Project, an ecologically themed tourist attraction, while Her Majesty participated in the socially distanced photo call with G7 leaders.
The occasion marked the first time the queen, whose late husband Prince Philip would have celebrated his 100th birthday Thursday, had met President Joe Biden. All signs are that the introduction went well; she was pictured beaming while chatting to the president. They are due to meet again on Sunday when Biden and the first lady will call on Her Majesty at Windsor Castle.
Kate Middleton was required to use all of her diplomatic skills when a cheeky American journalist, apparently unaware of the quaint British custom of not shouting awkward questions at the royals, lobbed a seriously off-message question at Kate while she and Jill Biden were undertaking a school visit to an early years class at the Connor Downs Academy earlier in the day.
“Do you have any wishes for your niece Lilibet?” the reporter, who was meant to be quietly observing a discussion with British and American education experts, called out impertinently.
Taken aback, Kate smiled and said, “I wish her all the very best, I can’t wait to meet her. We haven’t met yet. I hope that we will soon.”
The reporter, MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell, was not satisfied, “Have you FaceTimed her?”
“No I haven’t,” Kate replied smiling broadly.
At this point, the rather one-sided conversation (which was all captured on camera and has been whizzing around social media platforms ever since) was threatening to get so interesting that a press aide intervened and kicked the journalists out of the room. Rumors that the impudent American is now languishing in Anne Boleyn’s quarters at the Tower of London remain unconfirmed.
It was an inauspicious start to the day but, thanks to the presence of the queen, her little joke, and her entourage of senior family members, it appears the royals were able to recapture momentum.
It was a particularly important engagement for Prince Charles, who chaired a meeting with 10 international CEOs to discuss his sustainable markets initiative.
Charles hammered home environmental themes in his speech Friday, saying, “The fight against this terrible pandemic provides a crystal-clear example of the scale, and sheer speed, at which the global community can tackle crises when we combine political will with business ingenuity and public mobilization... We are doing it for the pandemic. We must also do it for the planet.”
After the reception, there will be a lavish dinner but the queen will not attend.
Friday’s events come as the royal family reels from a fresh outbreak of the civil war between them and the Sussexes over the choice of the queen’s nickname Lilibet as a first name for their child.
Meghan and Harry have insisted the queen gave them her blessing to use the name, but palace aides have denied this and said the queen knew nothing about it. Meghan and Harry have threatened legal action against some outlets for reporting the story.