John Key sits with the queen

John Key shares an endearing glimpse of the monarch's private quarters

It can be hard to resist sharing your holiday snaps, especially if you’ve stayed somewhere swanky. But the British press say Prime Minister John Key (52) should have known better when he made public a photo of himself with the Queen in her private sitting room, after he and his family spent a weekend at Balmoral.
Described by one paper as a “colonial clot” and “glowing nuclear pink with pleasure”, the PM broke protocol by releasing the picture, and risked a telling-off from Buckingham Palace, which has firm rules about such things.
But, in our leader’s defence, it was not as if he revealed details about a side of the Queen’s life which hasn’t been seen before.
1 Portrait of a young Queen Victoria by Hungarian Charles Brocky 2 Mantelpiece littered with china dogs, family photos and an antique clock 3 Portrait of Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, from 1841 4 A selection of family photographs, including Prince Andrew and his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and the Queen as a young mother 5 Fake orchid with silk blooms and plastic stems 6 Electric convection heater, worth about $40 7 Michael Middleton’s shot of William, Kate and George 8 Royal Stewart Hunting Tartan carpet, known as the Royal Tartan 9 Cuddly toy corgi, similar to those on sale at the Buckingham Palace gift shop for $30 10 Dog baskets for the corgis
Photos of the same room were released earlier this year, showing Her Majesty with another Prime Minister, Brit David Cameron. The images were from the TV documentary Our Queen, and showed even more of the monarch’s Scottish home than John Key’s single snap. They revealed numerous surfaces covered with clutter, including a table overflowing with picture frames, flowers, china knick-knacks, an aromatherapy diffuser, a cuddly toy and a rock collection.
One journalist said the room resembled an “explosion in a bric-a-brac shop”.
Same scene, different tartan: The Queen, pictured with British PM David Cameron for a 2013 documentary.
By comparison, John’s picture makes the room look like someone had just done a quick tidy-up. But the rock collection is still in evidence, along with dozens of family photos – including Michael Middleton’s shot of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, with their baby son Prince George, who were at Balmoral at the same time as John, his wife Bronagh, son Max and daughter Stephie.
John put his foot in it further by talking about how Max went grouse shooting with William, while Stephie went hiking with Kate. The Queen gave him and Bronagh a tour of the estate in her Land Rover and Prince Philip was in charge of the barbecue.
“They all pitched in. We helped lay the table,” he said.
Judy Kean

read more from