'I gather not all the bars belong to us': Queen's solid gold quip about bullion sell-off
Comment said to George Osborne at Cabinet meeting the Queen attendedIt was in reference to Gordon Brown selling half the country's gold reservesHe sold them for 2billion in 1999 when price of gold was at a 20-year low
22:29 GMT, 22 December 2012
As a constitutional monarch, the Queen knows she must remain above the hurly-burly of everyday politics… but that didn’t stop Her Majesty from last week making a light-hearted quip about Gordon Brown’s controversial sale of Britain’s gold reserves.
In a conversation with George Osborne, she recalled a visit earlier this month to the Bank of England vaults, where thousands of gold bars are kept. She then commented to the Chancellor: ‘I gather not all of the bars belong to us.’
Mr Osborne replied, with a slight smirk: ‘No, Ma’am. Some of them were sold before this Government got in, but I’m pleased to say that we have still got some left.’
Golden look: Her Majesty examines the stacks of gold bars stored in the Bank's vaults
Royal inspection: The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were shown the vaults at the Bank of England where thousands of gold bars are kept
The comment brought laughter from other members of the Cabinet who heard the exchange. It took place in the Pillared Room of No 10, when Her Majesty became the first monarch to sit in on a peacetime Cabinet meeting since 1781.
She is said to have maintained a diplomatically impassive expression throughout the conversation.
The comment was in reference to Mr Brown selling half of Britain’s gold reserves for 2 billion while he was Chancellor in 1999, when the price of gold was at a 20-year low.
Since then, the value has increased nearly six-fold – meaning the Exchequer has lost more than 9 billion.
Hands-on: The Queen thoroughly inspects the gold vaults during her visit to the Bank of England
Value: The vaults contain thousands of bars of gold worth billions of pounds
The Queen has taken a close interest in the global financial crisis, asking a group of economists in 2008: ‘Why did nobody notice’
And when she visited the Bank of England vault, she said that watchdogs at the Financial Services Authority ‘didn’t have any teeth’.
Other members of the Cabinet (pictured) laughed when they heard the comment