David Cameron issued an unprecedented - and suitably abject - apology to the Queen last night for breaching her confidentiality by saying that she “purred down the line” when he told her that Scotland had voted “No” to independence and was remaining part of the United Kingdom.
The British prime minister said today in New York - where he has been participating in meetings at the UN - that he was “very embarrassed” after a ‘hot mic’ picked up his remark, made during a conversation with Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
He said that his office had already been in touch with the Palace to express Mr Cameron’s regret, and he added that he will also apologise to her in person during their next scheduled meeting.
A contrite Mr Cameron said, “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. My office has already been in touch with the Palace to make that clear and I will do so as well.”
Cameron’s comments hugely irritated the palace and represent a serious beach of the protocol which dictates prime ministers must keep conversations with the monarch absolutely private.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister and the leader of the No campaign, said Mr Cameron should “hang his head in shame” over the breach.
Mr Cameron’s comments suggested that the Queen had been pleased with the outcome of the independence vote, which many had suspected, but she had been at pains to make no direct comment on the referendum.
Cameron told Bloomberg, “The definition of relief is being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and ringing the Queen and saying 'It's alright, it's okay'. That was something.... She purred down the line.”