Denis MacShane served as a Foreign Office minister under Tony Blair for four years until 2005. One week after meeting the British monarch, the former Rotherham MP found himself sitting next to Gyles Brandreth on a flight. Mr MacShane proceeded to tell the author and close friend of Prince Philip that he thought the Queen had “excellent legs.”
Much to the Labour minister’s horror, Mr Brandreth passed on his observations to the Queen.
In his new book Must Labour Always Lose?, the MP recalls the mortification and embarrassment he felt upon realising his secret was out of the bag.
“My heart shrunk. Talking out of school about the Queen was the worst possible crime for an FCO minister,” he explained.
“I went into the Foreign Office and saw officials turning their faces from me in horror at what I had done.
“I knew the Queen’s private secretary as a friend and neighbour with a house in France close to where I often stayed. I called him in a panic.
“‘Robin, Robin’, I stuttered but he interrupted.
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“There are only two people in the world frankly to whom a Prime Minister can say what he likes about Cabinet colleagues,” he said.
“One’s the wife, and the other’s the Queen.
“She [the Queen] is about the only person that you can tell something to in complete confidence and know that the confidence will never be broken.”