Duke of Edinburgh asks top Tory: do you have tartan knickers?
The Duke of Edinburgh has sparked controversy during the Pope Benedict XVI's visit by asking Scotland's most senior conservative politician whether she owned a pair of tartan knickers.
During the Pope's tour of Edinburgh’s Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Duke noticed that many MSPs were wearing ties bearing a new tartan commissioned to mark the Pontiff’s visit.
Observing that Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Tory leader, was not wearing the tie, the Duke asked her: "Have you got a pair of knickers made out of this?" The astonished spinster, 60, performed a double take then quickly recovered her poise. "I cannot possibly comment and even if I had I could not possibly exhibit them," she replied.
With that, the Duke moved onto the next MSP in the line, leaving Miss Goldie and Iain Gray, her Labour counterpart, trying to digest the bizarre exchange.
Miss Goldie later travelled to Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, where the Pontiff was due to deliver an open-air mass.
Those who travelled with the Scottish Tory leader, who is renowned for her witty ripostes and double entendres in the Scottish Parliament chamber, said she was in "fits of laughter" during the car journey.
After recovering from the encounter, she said: "It's marvellous that humour is alive and well in the Royal Family."
A spokesman for Mr Gray said: "We do not comment on the Scottish Tory leader’s underwear."
Scottish party leaders were among 400 civic leaders gathered in a marquee at the rear of the palace, the site of the Queen’s annual summer garden parties, at the bottom of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
The guests were split into lines of about 15, with Miss Goldie and Mr Gray joining Paul Grice, chief executive of the Scottish Parliament, and the conveners of Holyrood’s select committees.
The Pope was the first to be introduced to the guests, followed by the British Queen, who MSPs reported was in a chatty and light-hearted mood. Thankfully, both had moved on by the time the Duke appeared.
The St Ninian's Day tartan was named after Scotland's earliest known saint and the man who brought the Christian faith north of the Border.
It was designed by Matthew Newsome, who said he drew on Roman Catholic and Scottish history to create the blue, white, green, red and yellow design.
There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of Scotland’s Catholics, presented a tie or scarf in the plaid to each of the 129 MSPs.
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, wore a scarf during the reception and one was presented to the Pontiff, who wore it over his shoulders during his parade in the Popemobile through the city centre.