Ties between China and Britain will not be harmed by Queen Elizabeth being caught on camera saying Chinese officials were “very rude”, said an influential Chinese newspaper on Thursday which instead laid the blame on Western media “barbarians”.
In footage broadcast by the BBC of a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, Queen Elizabeth was heard to commiserate with a senior police officer who had the “bad luck” to be in charge of security during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit in October.
“They were very rude to the ambassador,” the queen said, referring to Chinese officials.
Under her constitutional role, the 90-year-old monarch never makes any politically or diplomatically sensitive comments in public, and it is rare for the content of her private conversations to be revealed.
The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said it was inconceivable that British officials had intentionally leaked the video because such a move would be “truly boorish and rude”.
Ties would not be affected by the queen’s remarks, the Global Times said in a Chinese-language commentary which also criticised the Western media that reported the incident.
“The disrespectful gossipers in the media there, narcissistic and baring their fangs, seemingly retain vestiges of the inelegance of barbarians,” the paper said.
“We believe, however, that with constant contact with the 5,000-year-old civilisation of the East (China) they will make progress,” it said.
Britain’s government has been determined to boost trade with China as part of a “golden era” in ties, although rights groups have accused it of turning a blind eye to alleged abuses by Beijing.
The queen has been careful to keep her views to herself during her 64-year reign, but several other members of Britain’s royal family have made undiplomatic comments about China in the past.
Her husband, Prince Philip, warned some British students in China in the 1980s that they would get “slitty eyes” if they stayed there too long.
China’s Foreign Ministry had downplayed the queen’s comments and said both sides agreed Xi’s trip had been a big success.
While Chinese officials “most likely treated British bureaucrats coldly”, the Global Times said it was not remarkable to have some unpleasant moments in private while bilateral exchanges become more regular and intimate.