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Gordon Brown left ’embarrassed’ by Queen’s knowledge of current affairs

Former prime minister Gordon Brown admitted he could be left “embarrassed” during meetings with the Queen, revealing the former monarch was often better informed about current affairs than he was.

He recalled how the Queen questioned “why have these bankers got it all wrong” in 2008, when the financial crash led to the UK entering recession.

Mr Brown, who was prime minister between 2007 and 2010, told how Elizabeth II “actually knew better about what was happening to the country” than he did during his time in Number 10.

The prime minister has a weekly audience with the monarch and, recalling those conversations, Mr Brown said: “I never had any advice and she wouldn’t give that.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, the former Labour leader said: “She would listen, she would ask questions. She would be endlessly knowledgeable about everything happening in the Commonwealth.

“I was very embarrassed one day because I went in to see her at six o’clock, I didn’t know that one of the Commonwealth leaders had been ousted and a new government had been formed.

“She was telling me what was happening when I was supposed to report to her.”

Mr Brown, who was at Saturday’s Accession Council meeting where Charles III was formally declared as the new King, added the Queen could even be better informed than he was on events in this country.

Mr Brown said he could have been “in the House of Commons all afternoon, in endless debates or cabinet meetings or something” while he said the Queen had been keeping herself up to date by watching television and would be “getting notes from her secretaries”.

Mr Brown (second right) with current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) and former prime ministers Tony Blair, (second left) Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson (right) ahead of the Accession Council


He added: “She actually knew better about what was happening to the country than I was. It was quite embarrassing.

“It just showed how conscientious she was, how well up on the detail, I think right to the last.

“You could see that in the meeting she had with Liz Truss when she became Prime Minister and Boris Johnson when he left, she could perform the duties right up until the end.

“She listened and she asked questions. I remember famously she asked ‘why have these bankers got it all wrong?’ in 2008.”

However, he stressed the Queen would “never impose her will” on the prime minister.

“This is the modern monarchy and I think she set the tone for what King Charles and the other monarchs will do,” he said.

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