Queen of laughs

‘You must have met the Queen!’: When UK royal pranked US tourists

Fooling innocent visitors, speeding around Scotland, and some fallen cheese — palace officials, politicians and Hollywood stars shed light on late British monarch’s lighter side

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II laughs at Windsor Castle in Windsor, southern England on April 11, 2014 (Leon Neal, Pool Photo via AP, File)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II laughs at Windsor Castle in Windsor, southern England on April 11, 2014 (Leon Neal, Pool Photo via AP, File)

LONDON — Amid the grief over Elizabeth II’s death, personal anecdotes have emerged about meetings with the late queen, highlighting her keen sense of duty — and humor.

Here are four anecdotes given in the week of her death, and a fifth from her Platinum Jubilee earlier this year, which has been widely reshared.

Pranking US tourists

Former royal protection officer Richard Griffin recalled how he was out with the queen in Balmoral when they met two US tourists on a walking holiday.

It emerged they had not recognized her and when they began chatting, the queen said she lived in London “but I’ve got a holiday home just the other side of the hills,” he told Sky News television during this summer’s jubilee celebrations.

“You must have met the Queen!” one of the tourists said, Griffin recalled, adding: “As quick as a flash she says, ‘well, I haven’t, but Dickie here meets her regularly.'”

Ex-PM May’s cheese mishap

Former prime minister Theresa May sent the House of Commons into fits of laughter on Friday when she recounted a mishap during a picnic with the queen at her Balmoral estate.

“We all mucked in to put the food and drink out on the table,” May recounted.

“I picked up some cheese, put it on a plate and was transferring it to the table. The cheese fell on the floor. I had a split-second decision to make.

“I picked up the cheese, put it on the plate and put it on the table.

“I turned round to see that my every move had been watched very carefully by Her Majesty the Queen.

“I looked at her. She looked at me and she just smiled. And the cheese remained on the table.”

Boris Johnson recalls ‘innocent joy’

“I can tell you as a direct eyewitness that she drove herself in her own car, with no detectives and no bodyguard, bouncing at alarming speed over the Scottish landscape,” May’s successor Boris Johnson told parliament.

He also recalled how she enjoyed the reaction to her famous stunt for the 2012 London Olympics, performed alongside James Bond star Daniel Craig.

“I remember her innocent joy more than 10 years ago after the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, when I told her that a leader of a friendly Middle Eastern country seemed actually to believe that she had jumped out of a helicopter in a pink dress and parachuted into the stadium,” he said.

Cracks Bond’s façade

Daniel Craig told US TV host Stephen Colbert how the queen ribbed him about his serious demeanor.

“[She] wants to crack a joke, and [she] cracked a joke about me,” the actor recalled.

“We were having our photographs taken and she just went, ‘oh no, he’s the one that doesn’t smile. Fair enough!'”

Comforting call

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman told parliament of the comfort provided by the queen following her sacking as a minister in 1998.

“When I was sacked… my diary was empty and my phone stopped ringing,” Harman said.

“My office was astonished to get a call from Buckingham Palace.

“No one else wanted to have anything to do with me, but the queen wanted to see me.

“I was invited to tea with the queen, for the queen to thank me for my service.”

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